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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back on the Hour of Power

December was the last time I rode the Hour of Power. Wow, it doesn't seem that long ago, but it was. Nice to get back at it today.

Today it was Mike, Tony, Peter, Bob, Catherine, Bobby and his son Charlie. We got a little bit of a late start because I was late. I couldn't get my pump to connect properly to my front tire. By the time I got air in it I was about 5 to 10 minutes late.

I was kind of scared starting out because my left knee was really bothering me. The ride last night in Cleveland Park was a little too hard and I seem to have stressed a tendon or something. I was hoping that it would ease up as I got warm.

Right away it appeared that Tony and Peter didn't get the memo that this was going to be an easy ride. They set a pretty fast pace. As we came up to the Reid School Road attack zone, I just eased up and let them fight it out.

On the Meece Bridge Road sprint I decided to join in the fun. Peter launched out leading up to the main stretch run. I slowly worked up to his wheel and then sat there knowing that at some point Tony was going to come flying around us.

My plan was to sit there with Peter and then jump on Tony's wheel with hopes that he could carry me around Peter and then I might have a chance to fight him for the line since he had to expend energy to get past us.

It was working like a charm until I got up beside Peter as I followed Tony. I went into my hardest gears and when I did my knee let me know it was not happy. Easing off caused me to fall back and finally I let up and finished a distant third.

By this time I was a little scared. The last thing I needed was a knee problem the week of my 40th birthday! It wasn't my knee cap. Rather it feels like where my quad connects to the upper part of my knee area. So, at least I knew it wasn't a cartilage issue.

I kept testing it as we moved toward the next main sprint zone on the quarry road. By the time we got there the pain was easing and as long as I was running in a easier gearing, it appeared to be okay.

We started up the climb. It was Tony and Peter in the lead and Bob and me following. We let the two guys in front pull all the way up. Then Bob fell back and I was sitting right behind Tony and Peter. Peter was guarding the white line and Tony was just a foot or so to his left.

I kept waiting for one of them to shift for the final sprint, but it didn't come. I began to think they were going to just finish side by side. I moved over to the left of Tony's wheel. No reaction to my movement. Then I decided to go.

They must have been worn out from the pull because they didn't really challenge my move. I just kept trying to hold a gap and managed to cross the line ahead of them. My knee wasn't hurting nearly as much since I never really mashed the pedals.

Poor Bob broke a spoke as we climbed. I heard the "ping!" and thought it was a rock at first. He just wrapped the broken spoke around a good one and finished the ride that way. Wonder how that would work with my flat Kyserium spokes?

After some easy riding it was time to take on the Sandy Flats sprint. Bobby and I were coasting toward the lead up climb and put some distance between us and the group. Then he left me and formed a gap. I just didn't feel like expending the energy to catch him so I let him go.

Then Peter came by me and went after Bobby. I just pedaled along. When we started the short decent before the final climb the rest of the group came freight training past me. I decided to save myself for later. I didn't see it happen, but I heard Peter took the sprint.

Next big sprint was the State Park one. Every one entered the attack zone together. Peter and Bob were up ahead of Bobby and Charlie. With the traffic I was afraid I might get stuck behind younger rider and Bob and Peter would open up a gap on me.

Thankfully, Charlie moved over and then Bob did as well. Bobby came up on Peter's wheel for a bit and then he moved back. There was some sort of discussion going on behind me and I thought I heard Tony say, "Jonathan, you're off." I didn't know if that meant he was wanting to pace line or what. Anyway, Peter was right in front of me and I wasn't about to give up my position.

I got on Peter's wheel and followed him down to the bottom of the dam. He moved over slightly and slowed. No way, Jose. I wasn't going to do that. I just moved up so my front wheel was up to his crank and slowed down to his speed. I wasn't going to lead him up just to have him pick me off near the top!

Then as we climbed we were side by side. I heard him shift to a harder gear. I was already in mine, so there was no delay when I put the hammer down. My Tarmac shot ahead and I decided I was going to climb that hill to the Park entrance or blow up trying.

Behind me I heard Peter say something about "good jump" or something like that. I knew he wasn't going to stop. I also knew Tony wasn't going to just let me get away. Then I heard Tony let out a sound that expressed, "Okay, I'm not going to get him." I kept hammering to the top.

Once I got there I felt the pain in my knee. I'm sure it was there the whole time, but the adrenalin kept it out of my mind. Thankfully, Oakleaf was closed due to construction and we skipped it to head over to Nature Trail.

Once there Peter took the lead again. We were both going up the incline in our big gears. I let him pace me up. Toward the end the road kicks up one final time. Peter increased his cadence about that time and I did as well for a bit.

Then I decided, "I surprised Peter once, but he is not going to let me do it again. Why kill myself?" So I backed off. Tony came around me at that point and I finished third on the climb.

Later at the shop I got the impression that Peter was disappointed I didn't make a move. Not because he wanted to put me in my place, but because he wanted the competition. I told him what I was thinking and he said, "Oh, don't stop!"

That is probably the thing that I have to learn the most. You'll never know what you are capable of if you keep counting the odds and then ease off when they are slightly against you. Sure, when the odds are real long, who cares. However, when you are in second on someone's wheel...

I felt really bad when we got back to the shop and Peter lifted his knee warmer and I saw his knee. He had been in a motorcycle accident and his knee had all kinds of fluid on it! I mean it was nasty! Of course, the difference between his and mine is that he said he couldn't feel any pain. I could. Still, I felt like a big wimp and shut my mount about my knee.

Overall, I felt pretty good. I really respect Peter's riding ability and while Tony isn't at the top of his game (yet) he still can put a hurting on me. To be able to hang with those guys was a big boost to my confidence leading into next Saturday's spring series race at Donaldson Center.



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