tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely.“a tenacious grip”
not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.“you’re tenacious and you get at the truth”
persisting in existence; not easily dispelled.“a tenacious local legend”
Yesterday, down in Oklahoma, at the Tall Chief Road Race, I was tenacious. When I look at the definition above, I can’t really say the first two definitions applied so accurately. I never get a firm-hold of anything and I relinquished a lot of positions throughout the day.The 3rd one is probably the most accurate. I was persisting in existence.
The Tall Chief Race was an effort. We got up at 5 am and were driving before 6. But that really wasn’t early enough. I looked up the distance to the race and Google said 178 miles. But it was closer to 215. That put us close to 30 minutes behind, when we were already cutting it close, like 30 minutes before the race. But, it was fine.
The course is great, a 18 mile loop with a few short climbs. The finish is 400 meters up a road to a dam. The wind was the determining factor. It was really windy at the start and it just kept getting windier. I think it was probably blowing over 40 on the last lap.
Normally I’m good in the wind. But to be good in the wind, you need to be good in general. I don’t think I’m close to good. At least by judging how I reacted when the field went into the gutter. And by responding, I meant anything except going backwards.
The race split time and time again on a particularly gnarly sidewind segment. The road was pretty iffy and the field had no ability to react to getting gutter ridden, other than getting blown to bits. I always tried to swing out to the center before I was completely cooked, but most of these guys haven’t ridden that much in crazy crosswinds, thus they just tried to stay connected in the gutter, which never worked out for them.
At one point in the race, I was in the 3rd group with at least 25 guys up the road. But the wind was so strong I realized that if I could keep my group semi organized, that we would eventually make headway.
It sounds like I was in control, but I really wasn’t. I got lucky that there were a couple real strong guys in my back group. After riding an hour off the back, we rode back up into contention. The front groups had got together and split. With 30 miles left, there were only 3 riders ahead.
With two laps to go, up the finish climb, the remaining field was close to 20, but that was short-lived. I could tell everyone was done. I was feeling a little better, but realized I didn’t have any ability to survive serious gutter riding. The first part of the course had a couple short climbs. But doing a short climb into a 40 mph headwind isn’t so easy. I was riding in a 39 x 28 off my seat barely moving on the last lap.
Guys started attacking and no one was following. After a few attacks, two guys, Rob Bell and Ryan Depree rode up the road. I made a pretty big effort and bridged up. I was hurt. Both Rob and Ryan were killing me in the crosswinds. On the first long tailwind section, Ryan went to the front and did a huge pull, like 2 miles at close to 40 mph. He never even acted like he was swinging off. It really established our break.
I eventually started coming around and just a little later, we caught up with two of the three leaders. It seems Jacob Lasley had shelled those guys and was up the road over a minute. So we had 5 guys with the addition of Janne Hamalainen and Chris Carlson. But Chris’ stint was short lived. He got shelled up the finish climb with one to go.
Oh, I failed to mention that we were racing in primitive conditions. It seems that the state of Oklahoma doesn’t have burning bans when the wind is over 15 mph or so. Because all the surrounding area was burning. The air was thick, which my wussy lungs were hating.
So there were 4 of us. Janne wasn’t big on pulling. He never really is. But he was good and eventually started rotating. I think I convinced him that we were just trying to survive and get to the finish.
I had been sort of cramping for an hour, but on the last lap, it was bad. With 1/2 a lap to go, my left sartorius completely seized. I dropped off the back of the group, trying to get it to release. It didn’t, but I rode thru it and got back on. I think those guys thought I was messing around, so I just went to the front and took a big pull.
On the last sidewind section, about 2 miles out, I took a pull and Rob attacked into the gutter. I was shelled instantly, but kept riding hard. I figured if those guys got back together, they would sit up, which they did. So when I rode up, I attacked, just because. I knew I wasn’t going to be shelling these guys, but I was a little perturbed.
So, we started coming to a stand off. We coasted down to a slow pace, even though I was trying to keep rotating. Luckily for me, there was a group riding up from behind and once everyone realized they were coming, we all worked together the last mile or so.
Coming to the bottom of the climb, Janne went to the front and jumped virtually from the bottom. I instantly shifted into my small ring to just ride to the finish. Janne had a good gap, and even though Rob matched his pace, he was a few bike lengths back and finished 3rd. Ryan was seized and going as slow as me. I made a run at him the last 50 meters to just keep him honest. I didn’t catch him, which I really didn’t plan on anyway.
I have to say that I put a lot of effort into that race. I was not firing good from the start. I somehow need to get my internal energy rhythm reset where I’m riding better on the weekends and not so good during the week. Man, this sport is really hard when it goes this way.
Jacob Lasley was hauling ass. He has been going great for a long time, he just races more locally than a guy with his ability should. He finished in the top 10 at the UCI Cyclocross at Trek and then won Master’s Nationals, so he finally was rewarded for his abilities. He rode away from the field at the 1/2 race at Joe Martin, so I guess there is no reason he couldn’t do it on home turf.
The rest of my van didn’t have such good races. Jack and Bill both didn’t finish. When you get shelled by yourself in a 40 mph crosswind, there really isn’t any other choice. That is except if you’re Catherine.
She got shelled by herself. When she was explaining the scenario, I realized she was on the centerline. I know many of you guys are going to hate this, but I told her she needed to cross the centerline to get a draft. That either way, she wasn’t going to stay in the race, but the centerline rule is subjective. Getting shelled by yourself isn’t. She rode the last two laps, which is 30 miles by herself. I can’t imagine how hard that was. She was just trying to get in the miles, holding out for daylight savings time next week.
Today, my lungs are blown. I’d have to say I’m sick, but after racing in all that smoke, when my lungs were already hurt, might give me a glimmer of non-sickness hope.
I took Tucker out for his longest walk so far last night. We went out for over an hour. He was great. He is super noise sensitive, so all the night noises are all new to him. He got a little scared a few times, but is very trusting in my assurances. An owl was his biggest scare.
I’m going to take him out to Vincent’s land and collect some cow manure today. I’m going to plant a garden today. It is supposed to rain tonight and 3 days this week. It is supposed to be in the 60’s and 70’s the next two weeks. Crazy. You’d think it was spring already, even though it is just early March.