Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Bicycle Race (Conclusion)

(This photo is thanks to A pic of me in the pit about 3/4 the way through the race and those guys in the background are still flying by so fast they are a blur!

(continued from last post) So I ripped and yanked at the bicycle to pry and wedge it out of the Jeep (thanks Brad for letting me use your Jeep!). I’m thinking 1994 Jeeps were not designed with the transport of 1984 10-speed bicycle hauling in mind.
Getting it out and onto the pit row area I slowly rode back and forth trying to test out gears and figure out which were the ones I wanted to use on the mile oval.

Everyone seemed to be going around the track with their bicycles warming up. Two things popped into my mind. One, these guys were going faster slowly warming up than I could go all out and two I couldn’t help but think if I do much more than a lap I won’t have any energy left to race. The race was officially for 30 miles for the A’s and I think 24 miles for B’s… I went around the track once and then tried to look nonchalantly inconspicuous sitting on my bicycle in pit row watching the racers zip by as I waited for the official to tell us all to line up in our groups for the race start.

My goal here was to show up and try to do 3-5 miles. Next years goal is to finish a race. Don’t forget I’m still a 290 something pound guy here! When I started this blog April 1st of last year I wouldn’t even fathom in my wildest dreams of trying putting a 10-speed under me on top of a NASCAR track that someone like Mark Martin races on. It wouldn’t even cross my mind… ever.

It’s been an incredible adventure since the start of this blog. Some of this stuff has been so mind boggling for me. The first time I really ran or I could pull myself out of a pool without the ladder steps. When I put on an XL shirt. When someone actually stopped me out of the blue and said, “Wow you’ve dropped some weight.” Playing volleyball. Not being a slave anymore to the All You Can Eat Chinese Food Buffet! Slipping on shorts that are 8 inches less than April of last year… I just don’t have a frame of reference to fully comprehend these totally new to me things.

The race began. First the A group, then each group started after a short pause. After C group I got ready. When I got my “Go” I cranked those gears and tried to catch up to the C group to draft. Drafting, if done well, can save about 30 percent of your peddling effort so it’s important stuff in bicycle racing. By the first turn they had near a ¼ mile on me. I pulled to the right and ran wide corners out of respect to just let the racers pass unhindered as I peddled. The basic difference in my speed would be as if walking as a jogger went by. After I had made 2 miles I think I was passed nearly twice by everyone. I knew deep down I didn’t have a chance at really “racing” while it did hurt a bit that I couldn’t even keep up for a single lap, I was still doing it, out there, not just being a spectator.

After 3 miles I slowed a lot. Then on the forth mile I rode into the pit and told the scorekeeper I was done. She smiled and told me that being the only one in the beginner class (D) if I could pull a couple of more laps I could rack up some reasonable points. I had a choice to make. I was tired but I decided I came to ride and that was what I was going to do and got back out on the race track.

Somehow the spectators watching got news of this whole thing playing out of this near 300 pound guy who had lost a lot of weight pouring his heart into his 1st race. I racked in 5 and 6 miles… then as I passed the start/finish line people started really cheering me, actually way more than the normal regular racers. My bike started squeaking and I searched for a gears I could work with… My head hung low mouth open and literally slobber flew out of my mouth. I cranked telling myself “Plod on. Just keep peddling” The bike wobbled as I rounded 7 and 8 laps! People started going crazy cheering as I rode by. I was so spent, but I decided I would make double digits… I rode 10 miles.

I don’t understand how the scoring works really, but I think I earned 18 points. Ironically while not finishing the race I still took my class (which is kind of obvious since I was the only one in it). I think? It doesn’t totally matter, I just did what I came to do.

Two things really threw me though. One was a couple of people asked me, “Did you have fun?” As strange as it sounds I stopped blank and honestly had no answer for them. I didn’t “not” have fun I guess. But it just wasn’t even in my frame of reference doing this. This journey is a ride for my life. This is the fight of my life. It’s not that I don’t have fun along the way but it’s being driven internally as I *have* to do this. It’s not “have to” as a punishment, but it has become part of my being that is unavoidable. It *IS* me.

When I started the blog last year I remember that moment. It was very late at night and I felt like a caged panther, internally pacing back and forth. I even woke up a friend that night and told them it was really important that I get a picture of myself right then. Those doe deer in the headlights eyes have been replaced, as you can see on the side panel in my emerging from the darkness pic. That picture too I remember, I had rounded the corner into my bathroom and saw something in those new eyes. It shocked me so much I had to take a dozen pictures to replicate it. I don’t think Fools Fitness is a joke, Maybe the first few days it seemed that way… and I am quick to poke fun still, but it’s become much more.

The 2nd thing that really threw me was getting home and the next morning. It would be easy to say I was sore, spent, and tired, but I really wasn’t. I wasn’t actually that sore…What I was I am not sure if I can explain. I have never experienced it. I was hollow. It was not like your really dim tired like a low battery but like the battery had been completely removed. I don’t know if it was that I had spent so much adreniline and energy for so long and experienced what bicyclists call a “bonk” which is like a diabetic shock with low glycemic sugar thing or what. I’ve heard that some astronauts experience heavy depression after returning to Earth, which makes some sense. How do you top that? What exactly do you do after seeing the edge?

I have a long way to go still, no delusions there. Yet this event was a climbing Mount Everest thing somehow. It’s going to take time to process. I don’t have a frame for the experience. I don’t mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just I can’t seem to understand it. The 7 time Tour De France Bicycle racing winner Lance Armstrong had a book titled, “It’s Not About the Bike” and I agree with that title. This wasn’t a bicycle race at all… it’s incredibly more than a bicycle. I can’t grasp it. Maybe in time I will understand it?

At Foolsfitness we are just speechless- Alan


  1. Congratulations, Alan. That is a great story and I would have loved to cheer you on in your first race. I totally understand the Mount Everest feeling...I had it too on my first race.

  2. Holy smokes Alan! You went there planning on getting in 3-5 miles, and you ended up putting in 10 miles! That's *AMAZING!* I'm so totally proud of you!!! I hope they all gave you a standing ovation as you crossed the finish line!

    You're right -- this IS like climbing Mt. Everest. It very much reminds me of the time I (sorta-kinda-accidentally) climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan. Talk about being utterly unprepared. But man...there's nothing that felt so completely proud of myself. And exhausted and hurting. But knowing without a doubt that the person that came down the mountain is the same person that started up it. Your journey reminds me of the same thing.

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  4. You have realized that you have more in you than you know, more than old Alan knew.
    That was how I felt in basic when I completed a 20 mile ruck march in full kit with bleeding feet.
    Spent, but nowhere near finished.
    Time to find out what's in there, and what you are capable of.

  5. Very touching post Alan. Deep, honest, heartfelt... and more to come. Sounds like you are getting to know this New You!

    Belated CHEERS for the 10 miles!!

  6. Just awesome. Part two of your post was definitely worth the wait, and the ending was way better than I was expecting.

    I had a similar experience completing my first try a tri a few months ago - I weighed 240 lbs.

    Great Job Alan

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