by Jimmy Davis
There was a report circulating in the news media. It is not the type of report that you want if you are a road cyclist getting ready for a race. However, it is not the type of news that would deter a die-hard cyclist. What is this news you may ask? It is that the forecast is a 60% chance of rain on race day! I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t want to race in the rain again” but I had already signed up and was actually excited to see how my training was coming along. This race was a “B” race for me, so that means a difficult training race that I will use to gauge how my training is coming along. I’m somewhat interested in my results but mostly interested in my form and fitness level.
The Colossal Cave road race is an Omnium. So on Saturday there was a Time-Trial (TT) and on Sunday there was a Road Race (RR). I signed up for the Omnium but was unable to compete in the TT. I knew that several of my teammates were in the TT so I was anxious to see the results. I found out that Gary finished on the Podium (3rd place) in the TT so I decided that I would work for him during the RR so that we could get a teammate on the Podium for the Omnium. I also received an e-mail from Michael informing me of Gary’s spot on the podium and that I should work for him during the race. I was glad to do this because if you get a teammate on the podium it is a win for the team. I used to teach classes in the church and one of the principles that I taught was “Only Fight The Enemy.” Oftentimes we spend too much time fighting each other and what we really need to do is focus on Christ and resist the Devil. The Word actually says in James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So there is an order to this thing: first submit to God, then resist the devil. Order is important because you cannot resist the devil until you have properly submitted to God! So, my application of this principle today was don’t race against teammates… we are not trying to beat each other!
On race day I thought that the Lord must have heard my heart because it was only slightly windy and there was no rain. In fact, it was a beautiful day for racing. At the start line I made an assessment of the riders and tried to identify the folks that were on the podium in the TT and also those that Gary would have to watch for if there were any attacks of if a break were attempted. I saw Michael Kothke, I was sure he would do some work and try to tear up the field and also I noted Brandon because I know he likes to climb and that he might “put the hurt on” during the 5 climbs that we had to complete during the race. As the race began I tried to simply position myself in a place where Gary could stay behind me. As far as I could tell that’s where he was for the first couple of laps. However, I know that Gary likes riding on the front and I was hoping that he would not go to the front because then I’d have to get on the front. I wanted to be nestled in a place that would provide some shelter for him and me. I always have this quote in my mind during races, “Energy saved is distance gained.” Each lap seemed to be as hard as the previous lap and there was really no “let up” during the race. On the third lap I almost got dropped on the climb over Pistol Hill and another rider pulled me back to the pack; I was really grateful for his willingness to get me there! He said, “Get on my wheel” and he took me up to the pack (rider in the dark kit).
Every lap I tried to block the wind for Gary, especially on Old Spanish Trail. I did not do a really good job at this on the first three laps but got on Gary’s inside on the last two laps because we had a cross-headwind. Greg was in the lead group with us also working hard and riding hard! Finally we came to the last lap and I knew that the guys would try a few attacks; none were successful as the group that remained were able to respond. As we turned the corner to head up Pistol Hill one last time there was still about 20 guys headed to the fish line. Suddenly the pace kicked up and the climbers started getting a separation on the rest of the group, I was done. I told Gary to go ahead and get to the line as he and Greg passed me on the climb. Another rider came around my outside and I got on his wheel. Surprisingly he started swerving around trying to get me off his wheel (I guess he wanted to beat me) so I said to him, “Listen, I’m not going to pass you, let’s get to the finish.” At that point he just pulled me up to the finish. My assignment was done and I did not want to crash 50 feet from the finish.
All in all it was a good day of racing; it was a harder race than last year. For example last year I finished in 9th place and our time was 2:14:42 with an average speed of 20.9 mph. This year I finished in 17th place and our time was 1:55:24 with an average speed of 23.1 mph. It is good to see that riders are getting stronger and the Cat 5 field is riding hard. I was also glad to see some of the JKG riders animating the race and using a little strategy to produce results. It was fun riding this weekend and I look forward to the Tucson Bicycle Classic in two weeks!