by Jimmy Davis
Douglas Arizona, not usually a destination that you just jump in the car and visit. Yet, every year a bunch of bike-crazed folks jump in their cars and invade the hotels in the area.
Douglas is not void of a lot of history, however. One of the hotels there called the Gadsden Hotel is famous for its marble staircase. It is said that the chip in the marble was made when Poncho Villa rode his horse up the stair case. It is a grand staircase which pours out gradually from the mezzanine to the lobby. It looks like the perfect place to take wedding photos but you might not want to take your bride there for your honeymoon because the city really isn’t a honeymoon-type destination (read about the history here: http://www.thegadsdenhotel.com/hotel-history).
Let's Get it Started!
This year the IC3 came to Douglas with four eager cyclists: Jimmy Davis, Jr, Michael Hast, Gary Schobel, and Steven McCommons. The race has several distances to choose from, 47 miles to 165 miles. I opted for the 95. One of the draws for riding in this race is the potential to get a “Platinum” rating from Perimeter Bicycling. By getting a Platinum rating you can start up front in the El Tour de Tucson (ETdT). This is important because there can be up to 12,000 people in the ETdT. The CCCC isn’t an easy race. In fact, in the race this year only 7 people pedaled fast enough to gain a Platinum rating (I was not one of them). In spite of this I was very happy with my results.
Sizing Up The Competition: Riders and the Climb
There were a few pros in the race, as well as a few Cat-1's. They were pretty much sitting in until the climb started. I had been waiting for the moment when they would all start to move up; when they did all I could do was watch and wish I was skinny. Michael Hast was able to get over the top with the leaders, while Gary and I were pretty much trying to get over the hill the best way we could. For me it was a struggle. I was happy though because in the tunnel (a very steep portion) I was going 9.5 mph as opposed to last year when I was going 8mph.
After the climb there is a steep and long downhill section of the race. I had been struggling up the hill just to get to this point and hoping there would be others with me that would form a group. On the descent I reached 54 mph. I found out later that Michael had reached 59 mph… that’s crazy! In any case, we formed a group. Our group had about 15 riders in it; we were the 1st chase group. The lead group had 8 people in it comprised of 4 pros, two Cat-1's, a Cat -2, a Cat-4 and a Cat-5 (Michael). As I checked our group I was saddened to see that Gary was not with us. I was really hoping to work together to get a good time. The group I was in worked together for the most part, there were some who did very little work but you never know if a person is barely holding on, saving energy or riding the best ride they have ever done in their lives.
Overcome Adversity: The Body, The Road and the Peloton
At about mile 50 there is another steep climb. Last year at this point I cramped really bad and was not able to stay with the groups after 20 additional miles of riding. This year I started to cramp about 3 miles further up the road but I moved to the back and started eating and drinking trying to manage my cramps. After about 10 miles my cramps went away and I started to move to the front. On my way to the front someone in the group started to confront other riders, including me.
I must admit, he got me riled up and I did not forgive him quickly. After some discussion he began to say, “good pull” as I pulled through each time. I guess the heat of the ride, fatigue and testosterone got the best of both of us, you could probably throw in a little ego too.
At some point I saw Michael up the road. I could see that he was waiting for us to catch him which we did eventually. After my little “confrontation” I was in the rotation taking pulls even though I could still feel the cramps threatening to return (once I got to the finish line I discovered that I still had two ½ bottles of water left). As I was taking pulls, with about 2 miles to go, Michael attacked the group and got a good gap. Everyone was looking around to see if anyone was going to chase. I, of course, was not because you never chase down a teammate. I saw the group wanting to pull him in but no one had the will to do the work… Michael had made a successful break. In my spirit I was yelling “Go Michael, go!” I was glad we never caught him and he was able to cross the finish line in 8th place.
As our group began to get closer to the finish the pack slowed down a bit. This made me nervous because we began to bunch up. This makes me think that there may be a touch of wheels and someone will crash. I wanted out of that situation as soon as possible. Finally I was able to get through as an opening presented itself. It was too far from the finish to sprint but I would rather get clear than to crash, so I attacked. When I looked over my right shoulder it seemed that no one had gotten on my wheel, however, when I looked under my left arm I could see the wheel of a rider who was able to get away with me. There was also another rider on his wheel. Soon I ran out of power and those two riders went around me fast, I was an effective lead-out for them. As they went around me I tried to put in some power to get back on their wheel but I felt the sudden grip of a cramp threatening to return, those pulls had taken some energy out of me, so I backed off. I was exhausted but still tried my best to hold my speed. Six other riders went by me on their way to the finish line and I came in 17th!
Afterward the IC3 provided water and Hammer Nutrition's Recoverite to the cyclists! Hammer Nutrition is a sponsor of IC3 and have many great products for athletes. Many people came to the tent and we were able to serve them! What a great day. There were aching smiles all around as folks felt the satisfaction of completing a difficult task. As for IC3, well, we know that the Lord is good all the time and all the time, the Lord is good. So here’s my closing word from the Word, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Phil. 4:13