by Gary Schobel
I was not looking forward to racing Saturday morning. The forecast was calling for rain and no matter the temperature and how many layers you put on, when you're wet you feel colder. Nevertheless I showed up to find my teammates and support already there getting ready to go. There was still a big turnout despite the rain. So I thought, okay let's do this. There were a couple of crashes in the men's cat 4/5 race, which I expected was going to happen. What I didn't expect to happen was to be pulled from the race just shy of 15 minutes into a 30-minute race. I was too slow. My average pace was 23.1 mph. To be honest I guess I was a little relieved. Pulling off the course, releasing the death grip that I had on my handlebars . I set off to the side with the rest of my teammates and watched Michael come in 17th place and Buzz finishing in 4th place. Great job guys! I would like to also say thanks to the members of the club that came out to support those of us racing.
Sunday morning's race was shaping up to be clear and warmer. Buzz, Jimmy, Michael, and myself met up at the Walmart parking lot at 6:30 a.m. and followed each other to the race. Just a special thanks to Jimmy for coming out and supporting. I also would like to say thanks to my brothers for the prayer support with a personal issue going on that morning.
We got to the race site in plenty of time to set up our tent and our banners. We spent about 30 minutes on the trainer warming up. We also got a chance to catch up with friends from other teams. I was looking forward to this race. We had 40 miles to go and I wasn't sure of the course I just heard that there was some climbing involved. We started the race and it wasn't very long before I can barely see Buzz off in the distance. Michael was holding a position between us. For a very short time I was able to stay with Michael. Halfway through the first lap, beginning the hill climbs I lost the main pack. I still feel pretty comfortable in the second pack through the climb and into the second lap. Reaching the hill climbs on the second lap I just found the right pace set the cadence and tackled each hill one at a time. I looked for every opportunity to bridge any gaps that I could. Every time I caught another group of guys it only encourage me to try and catch the next group. It was like a little game to me and it took my mind off the hill climbs.
The best part of the race was towards the finish. I snuck up to a group of three collegiate riders from the U of A and ASU. I really wanted to try and get into their heads. I tried to look fresh, not tired -- to look like I could take another lap. When I heard one of the riders ask a bystander how far is the finish line. I smiled when the bystander said, "Oh a couple of miles." I knew the finish line was only two or three turns away not even a half mile. I thought, let the games begin! As we got closer to the finish line the leader launched an attack. I put everything I had into it to stay on his wheel. After his attack he looked over his right shoulder and saw me right there. I did my very best to look as fresh and relaxed as possible like all the effort that he just expelled got him no where. Now we could see the finish line, I thought he just put out that attack, and now is my chance for the first time to actually sprint to the finish line. No, we weren't contenders for a podium spot but in my mind it sure felt like it. The three of us spreading it out to the finish line. The feeling was incredible for me. Loved it! After the finish line I met up with Michael and Buzz and we rode back to our tent. On the ride back it was exciting to hear that that Michael finished in 6th place and Buzz in 12th place. Great job guys! I love you guys, I feel blessed to race with you and to be a part of this team.