It all began a day after the Tour of Granite Country when I realized the FH50 was nearing and I was still off my game. I hadn’t lived up to the performances of 2007 in most events and couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong and a last resort is touching my bike with an allen wrench. I think I always knew the answer but was in denial about it as I knew the mental pain and anguish that ‘it’ was going to entail; LOSE WEIGHT. I had been struggling to get below 164lbs all season but then again I hadn’t really tried. So step #1 was to lose weight. It was not easy but I managed to lose 6 lbs over the next 10 days bring be back to 158 where I was at all last year. Nothing out of the ordinary just simple will power and a solid day of fasting coupled with a pair of hard and long tt efforts in the northwoods on an empty tank the weekend prior to the race. Monday I had Larry Foss at The Fix work over my legs for step #2 which was long overdue. He’s a true pro masseuse. I wish the last hour of work went that fast. Tuesday was a long and easy tour of my favorite western burb roads with a newbie but fast learner. Wednesday all my self-doubt was washed away with a 14:16 Black Dog TT which chopped a significant chunk of time off my consistent albeit below average performances over the series. Thursday was all about rest and carbo loading, step #3, which was the complete opposite of what I dealt with one week before during my fast. Friday was about bike prep and one last mini effort, step #4, and blowing River Road stop signs before hitting the road for Webb Lake, WI and the home of the Gibbs’. For 5 years they have opened their cabin door for me and it has always been a part of my mental preparation. Friday evening was all about fun and jacking up the blood sugar on vodka cranberries, steps #5,6,7,8,9, at the Caberet with my friends Randy and Molly.
I rarely sleep well the night before a race but I usually pay the price a few days later so I wasn’t concerned with a 1am end to the day but the 4am start to race day was kinda painful. I got to Grandview to find my VIP parking spot reserved next to Greg Stick LaVick and Elise. The weather was perfect. Team Time Trial teams were going off while I prepped my bike. There’s a constant noise to the air which is unusual for the time of day but music is blasting and a race announcer keeps everyone informed with the time, start times, rules etc. Our home base is close enough to hear the 30 second interval count down beeper adding to the nervous anticipation of the race. My start time was 8:12:30 and they run the event to the second so my time is strictly budgeted. Ten minutes warm up, enough to break a sweat, a little stretching and then I’m off. I like to describe the FH50 as being 4 tts in one. The first stretch rolls up to the high point of the continental divide where water either flows to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic via the Great Lakes. Then it’s a long drag back down to a flat section traversing lakeshore. Then it’s a right hander onto County Rd M and up a good hill. This is the second section and my favorite. It’s smooth and fast all the way into Cable. In Cable I take a break and get ready for the pain of the third stretch through the woods on Lake Owen Drive. This stretch may as well be cobblestoned. It breaks racers and bikes. You’ve gone 30 miles on the red line and now you have to hold on and concentrate through the twisting, up and down and rough road. The only good thing is the shade from hot sun and lack of wind neither of which were a factor on this day. Coming out of Lake Owen is like that first step out of a sun-baked biffy; It’s like a breath of fresh air. The pavement smoothes and it’s nearly all downhill to Grandview but it’s 8 miles.
This year I really attacked the course. I had my rivals Dan Casper and Lance Niles starting a few minutes behind me but I didn’t feel their pressure. I was able to ride my own race. I did have to pick my way through Fantasy 50 racers but at least it gave me a real sense of my speed. I kept on an eating and drinking schedule, which was key. When I mentally fatigued I though about some simple advice Mark Skarpohl gave me (a former record holder of ten years); Focus, focus, focus. I rarely drifted off into la-la land. I used every inch of the road and held the position as tight as possible. Aerodynamically speaking as you increase distance the more important aero-efficiency is. Little things add up. Focus focus focus. Before I knew it I was on Lake Owen Drive. I bombed the hills and carried my speed into the accents and avoided my brakes. I never looked at my time and went without any computer info.. all on feel. There’s a Ten mile to go marker and I knew I was about to take a fresh step out of the biffy very shortly and what was left in the tank was going to be used on the run in to Grandview. I really didn’t know I was on record pace but did know I couldn’t have gone any faster. I left it all out there and knocked one out of the park with a 1:51:26.
The bike was awesome. My wheel choice was pivotal. I rolled Jet C2 90 combo with Michelin Pro Race2 tires at about 100psi. They rolled through the rough stuff like it wasn’t there. Rolling resistance is real.