I don't usually brag about what i do because rarely do I have anything that is bragworthy.
But I have now beat Kelly Glenn of Glenn Bros Racing 2 weeks in a row. If it had only been one week then I might have thought it was a fluke. But two weeks in a row? That is a streak. As I have lay in bed for the last two weeks, falling asleep with a smile on my face, I try and think what it was that gave me that competitive edge over Kelly when it really mattered.
I could be the little things like that fact that I am clean shaven and he has a beard and that lack of aerodynamics are slowing him down. It could be that i opted for the thermal skinsuit where he went with the regular skinsuit and he is not getting his muscles sufficiently warm during pre-race warmups. It could be that my wife only had 2 babies and his wife had 3 babies so i am getting 33% more sleep than he is right now.
It could be the fact that he can't keep his bike upright and parts keep breaking off during the middle of the races. I don't care. I will take it. A win is a win. And by "WIN" I mean that I was in the middle of the pack of the rest of my field, but I was in front of Kelly.
Now if I could just figure out how to take down James, I could die happy.
Actually all I have to do is wait for his rear wheel to explode, (which is going to be any day now) and I can walk away with the "W".
...How do you tell them apart?We take a sharpie marker and put a dot behind the ear of #5.Megan and #2 doing the Cross out Cancer 5k at Wheeler Farm. The next Saturday Megan ran the Halloween half marathon. Not bad for giving birth to twins a few months ago. Not her fastest time but not her slowest either.This picture is just because i couldn't do a post without including a picture of #4.
During the fall and early winter of 2005 i started noticing bikes on the top of people's cars covered in mud with number plates and wondered what they were doing. After some research, i learned about cyclocross and went and watched a race at Wheeler farm. It looked fun so i found out where the next race was and went up to Fort Buenaventura and did my first cyclocross race on my mountain bike. Actually, it was my first bike race ever.
I was hooked. I finished in the middle of the pack in the lowest category but had a blast. The problem was that this was the last race of the season. I would have to wait for 10 more months to be able to do it again. I bought an inexpensive cx bike that sat in my garage unused for the better part of the next year.
The next year i decided to do LOTOJA as base training for CX season. I trained with my brother and friends all summer for this one event in September. I put in the miles. I did the work. I baby stepped. The week of LOTOJA came and i found myself with a sinus infection. It was preventing me from being able to get a good night sleep. My choices were to go into LOTOJA without any sleep, or to get on an antibiotic and not know exactly how it would effect me and at least try and get some sleep.
I got on the antibiotic.
We started out and my legs never warmed up. It was cold but my legs just felt stiff. As soon as we started the first climb at about 40 miles in, my chain broke.
The Robot was a little ahead of me and i yelled but he didn't hear and kept going. Luckily i was climbing better than the Doctor and cousin kevin and they were behind me. They came up and saw what had happened. I had a chain tool so i bent down to fix the chain and immediately, both of my legs locked up. I was cramping 40 miles into a 206 mile race. this was not good. I got my chain fixed and remounted my bike but knew i was in trouble. the Doc and Kevin paced me up the first climb and into montpellier. It literally felt like i was being stabbed
in the leg during every pedal stroke. I was an emotional wreck because i had just dedicated the last 9 months of my life training for an event that i was afraid i was going to have to pull out of 80 miles in. Once i got to Montpellier, i decided to push on and see how far i could go. The Doc and Kevin waiting patiently and helping me along the whole way. I struggled for the next several hours being towed along and feeling as if my thighs and calves were going to explode.
It turns out that one of the side effects of the antibiotic i got on was dehydration.
When we were just outside of Jackson, i was struggling but i knew there was only a few miles left to go so i sent my escorts ahead to finish. They could have gone much quicker but they waited and helped me along the whole way. They came into the finish and my wife, who had seen me at the feed zones knew what i was going through wondered why they left me. I rolled along slowly for the last 15 or so miles until a mile from the finish. I shifted my rear derrailleur but i was already in the easiest gear. This sent my derrailleur into my spokes breaking 3 of them and knocking my wheel so far out of true that it wouldn't spin. I was a mile from the finish so i ended up picking up my bike and carrying it the last mile across the finish line.
A couple of Saturdays ago, 6 minutes into a 60 minute race, my derrailleur got caught somehow and ripped the whole derrailleur hanger off my bike, wrapping it around my axel and exploding the derrailleur. I ended up picking up my bike, watching the guys that were behind me on the course pass me, and i ran back to the pit where luckily i had a spare bike. I kept racing even though at this point i was down a good 4 minutes on anybody else in the race. I lost my drive and eventually got lapped by the leader in the A group...twice. But i finished.
I have only DNF'd once in my life during a road race when i was sent the wrong way by a course marshall and ended up coming through the start finish line the wrong direction. I have seen a lot of racers pull the plug on a race if it is not going well. I have come to the realization that i will never be a professional bike racer since i am old, I have a full time job, I have a half a dozen kids and i was given a genetic crap-hole of a body to work with. I know that i will rarely win, but the one thing i will do is finish a race if i have any way of doing it. The only thing worse than a DFL is a DNF. There have been times when i really should have pulled the plug but there is something about quitting and event that i have a tough time sleeping with.
Cousin kevin signed up for his first marathon a few years ago and started cramping at mile 21. It was closer to his car than to the finish line so he just ran to the car instead. (i must note that he has done a few marathons since that first one but that have all been after a couple mile swim and 112 mile bike ride)
Why do you compete? Is it because you have a chance at the olympics or because you enjoy pushing yourself to see what your personal limits are? What is the final straw that would make you pull the plug on a race? A crash? Having your foot fall off? Cramping? A mechanical? All of the above in the same race?
I signed up this year for a few reasons. My older brother had his leg cut off and now was going to do 206 miles with one leg and my fat dad was going to buckle down and get on a training program and do LOTOJA for the first time at 65 years old. I also have reached the point where i qualified to receive my 1000 mile club award.
My one legged brother is actually riding stronger now than he has ever ridden and qualified to race the paracycling world in Denmark so he bailed on me. My mom's health was rapidly declining at the time of registration so my dad decided that his time was better spent with her.
I knew going in to LOTOJA that considering the events that took place this year, my fitness was not what it could have been. Still, i paid my $169 entry fee and had 2 hotels booked so i figured i was going to do it. Early on, i was afraid i was going to have to do it self supported, but
eventually i was able to talk my wonderful wife into finding a place for the 4 older girls to stay and to bring the twins and strap them on while she drove for countless hours while feeding me and them between stops.
We had 8 guys from our team signed up in the cat 3/4 group and with the field that had signed up this year, we had a good chance of having a strong finish.
The temperature at the start was in the 50's which was a pleasant change from the 30's we have been starting in the last few years.
We took off a little after 6:30 and did the neutral roll out of town. We made the right hand turn into the outskirts of town and immediately a guy named Tom from USU attacked. I figured that my fitness wasn't great, i might as well go with him and try and get a head start on the
Strawberry climb. We worked together for the first couple of hours. We caught and passed the masters 45 group ahead of us and started the rollers out of Preston. I could tell that although
Tom was a little bigger than me and could do a good pull on the flats, he was not going to be good at the climb. Within a few miles i asked him how he was doing and in a strained voice he told me he was done. With that, i left him and tried to climb at a comfortable pace while still
pushing it. Toward the top of the strawberry climb, i was caught by the leaders from my group. I rode with them for about 5 minutes, but the 3 hours of early effort along with my lack of
fitness let me know that i was not going to be able to keep this pace up for another 6 hours. I knew i could not win. Kevin was in the lead group and was looking good so i told him to go
ahead and i would wait. I sat up and waited for my brother Zach and cousin John.
This was Zach's second year. He finished last year in 11 hours and some change with cramps and this was johns first time doing LOTOJA. I rolled along slowly waiting but i eventually got in to Montpellier with out them catching me. Someone came in and told me that Zach flatted before Preston. John came in 20-30 minutes after i got there and Zach eventually rolled in almost an hour after i got to the feed zone. Going hard for the first 3 hours, then sitting for an hour is hard on the legs. Zach rolled in and said he was cramping and he was done. My words were something like "I have been sitting here waiting for you for almost an hour, get back on that #$*& bike and lets go"
Reluctantly, he remounted his bike and zach, john and i headed out.
I could tell this was going to be a long day but i kept thinking back to my first LOTOJA and how Cousin Kevin and the Doctor helped me get through it after my bike broke, i cramped at mile 40 until the end and then my bike broke again and i had to carry my bike the last mile to the finish. I figured, i could help Zach finish and i would never need to do this race again.
After we got going i could tell immediately that Zach's legs were not wanting to pedal so i told john to jump on the back of the next big group that came by and just go. Within a couple minutes he was gone and i was standing on the side of the road with zach while he tried to stretch out his legs.
This continued several times over the next stretch of miles. Zach developed a case of situational Tourette's syndrome every few minutes and we stopped several times before we hit the bottom of the last climb at salt river. As we approached the climb i could see a group of cyclists on the side of the road all standing around one rider who was sitting on the guard rail not looking good. It was a group of guys i ride with and i recognized what was going on. One of them had an ice pack on his shoulders and was suffering form heat stroke.
My wife happened to drive by at this point and pulled off a few hundred yards up the road to see if they could help. Zach saw this as his exit strategy and unceremoniously withdrew from the race and went and got into the car. Yep, although my dad always taught us as kids that we as Bradley's don't quit, he quit. At exactly 103 miles into the ride, he DNF'd.
Remember the scene from the Man from Snowy river when all of the guys are chasing the Brumby's and the Brumby's jump off the cliff and go down the very steep hill. All of the riders stop there because it looks too hard, and one of the guys says "You can bid the mob good day." But then young Jim Craig rides through the group and jumps off the cliff and cracks his whip and single handedly brings the pack of wild horses in. He didn't do it for the reward money. He did it because just like me, his dad taught him not to quit. I guess that lesson was lost on Zach.
After Zach abandoned, i ended up riding with this other group of friends. I figured i still had 103 miles, i mights as well do it with a group. We started up the last climb and it was obvious that one of the guys was not doing well.
This is how we ended up getting him up the climb. we eventually got to the top of the climb and he abandoned with severe heat stroke. Chills, shaking and incoherent and in no shape to make the 45 mph descent down the backside of the climb. The warmer temps at the start made for about 10 degrees warmer than usual in the middle of the day.
I rode with these guys to the Afton feed zone where we pulled up and grabbed my feed and was ready to go. Everybody else pulled up and started eating their subway sandwiches and relaxing. When i am doing an event like this, my legs just like to keep going at a steady pace. The starting and stopping and changes in effort are much harder on them than just going. But knowing i still had a long way to go and this was a group of around 15-20 guys i waited for them to finish lunch and rode with them. We got to the Alpine feed and i experienced a similar situation. John's wife told me that john had left 5 minutes ago and that i could catch him. I figured i would just wait for them to get their food and stretch for another 10 minutes. This time i was a few hundred
yards away at the opposite end of the feedzone. As soon as i saw them get on their bikes and start rolling out, i started pedaling slowly, waiting for them to catch me. I coasted and pedaled slow for several minutes and they still were not making up any ground on me. I finally decided that i was just going to put my head down and go hard and try and catch john. I caught him at the next neutral feed zone and rode with him to the finish.
It was the longest day i have ever spent on my bike. My Garmin has an auto-pause and i actually only had a ride time of around 10:20, but my finishing time was over 12 hours. I took dead last in my category. I finished over 2 hours slower than i have in the last 3 times doing this event. But the good news is that i finished and Zach didn't so i can make fun of him for the rest of our lives.
Mitchell had a good finish in 8th for his first time riding it.
Kevin wasn't paying attention and got dropped by the lead group going through a feed.
The Robot showed that he is vulnerable to the elements and while in a two man break off the front and looking good was hit with the stomach flu....but he still finished.
John rode with me and finished his first time and decided that next year he will save the money and just have someone kick him in the crotch and go on a tropical vacation instead.