BBBQ Criterium

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Yesterday was very hard for me.  I’m not good.  I guess I’m sick, but it is a weird sickness.

I did the 5 hour drive from Cable to Clear Lake Iowa to race at 7 pm.  On my way, I called my friend Shadd Smith to see if he was coming to the race.  Shadd races for the Olathe Subaru Team and I hang with them most of the time since I haven’t had any team mates around most this year.

Anyway Shadd tells me he has been pretty sick every since Louisville.  And that 3 of their guys aren’t coming to the race because they were sick.  I woke up after the criterium, last week, with a super sore throat and crazy headache.  I had never had a sore throat when I was taking antibiotics, unless I was taking the antibiotics for my throat.  Anyway, after a day or so the headache went away, but my throat has been sore since.  Shadd has the exact some symptoms.

Then Stacie, who I was staying with at Louisville got really sick.   She did the 800 mile drive up to Cable, spend one day, and then curled up in the back of their truck and they drove home.  She was bad.

I’ve just been feeling weird.  Sometimes I was okay, but when I wasn’t riding or moving, I was super achy and lethargic.   I’ve been doing that sinus rinse thing, and  wasn’t really that concerned.

Anyway, last night I thought I was okay.  I rode nearly an hour before the race and felt alright.  I was optimistic.  But right when I clipped in, it was not good.

The course was hard.  It was short, .7 miles, with 8 corners.  It had a small rise on the backstretch, which really strung the field out.  Anyway, it was in a long line and I was never comfortable.  I was doing my best to being pack filler.  The whole race my sinus’ were dripping into my lungs and I was hacking constantly.

Towards the end of the race, it got ugly.   There was a small break away and the last 5 laps, it got going harder.  This put a lot of guys to their limit.  Lots of riders were sitting up and others were falling.  I guess the efforts were making them worse bike handlers or something, but individuals were falling randomly in corners, splitting the field.

I kept getting caught behind splits and barely made it back each time.  I finally just put my mind to it and said all I need to do is finish in the field.  And I just did, barely. The last lap I was last guy on, and barely stayed there.  I can’t remember a time I rode like this.  I have to admit, it took a lot of perseverance.  Looking back at the numbers, I sucked.  And I was hurting.  I had an average heartrate of 169 and a maximum of 189.  So much for that low heart rate deal.  I guess I can only get my heart rate up is when I am struggling.

So, today I’m not racing.  No one is.  The race has been cancelled.  That wouldn’t have made any difference, I wasn’t starting anyway.  I woke up early, at 5:30, with Trudi, who drove to Kansas City to fly to Switzerland.  Just a little while later, I heard thunder.  It has been raining pretty constantly since.

This season has been pretty challenging, mentally for me.  I’m not sure if it is just bad luck or what, but I have been out of sorts most of the last couple months.  I don’t really feel that bad, but yesterday was awful.  Man, if bike racing was always that hard, I’d consider a different lifestyle.

I have a week before Tour of Lawrence next weekend.  I’m heading home and will try to feel better by then.  I guess I need to rest some, but I feel better when I’m riding.  Weird.

I was never comfortable all day.

I was never comfortable all day.

I warm up by here. This is the last place that Buddy Holly played before he died in a plane crash.

I warm up by here. This is the last place that Buddy Holly played before he died in a plane crash.

Even at this criterium, they have barriers without legs sticking out into the course. Maybe the Tour de France could take notice.

Even at this criterium, they have barriers without legs sticking out into the course. Maybe the Tour de France could take notice.

Tucker was thirsty after I finished.

Tucker was thirsty after I finished.

Curent radar.

Curent radar.


16 thoughts on “BBBQ Criterium

  1. Paul Kersey

    Welcome to being a average cyclist or a not as naturally talented cyclist. I always thought the lower category riders or the constant suffering elite pack filler riders have more passion for the sport. They are the ones who supply the prize money or simply provide the money for the promoter to host the race. It’s much easier to love racing when it comes naturally easier and to be a factor or dictator in the race. Especially the lower categories. Imagine if you had to hold down a job!

  2. Over Trained

    I’m sure if you just ignore your fatigue and go ride another 500 miles this week it will get better.

  3. Fausto

    Agree, sounds like you need a change in routine. Less travel, more rest, concentrate on road or off but not both? How about another blood test to see what is going on? A shot of what team Sky is on maybe? Good luck.

  4. James

    There’s more to life than winning a bike race. You’re getting old man and I’m sure you have figured out by now that the body ‘ebbs and flows’ just like nature, or the weather, or relationships. Just roll with it and when your in a funk, be it a couple of days or 6 months, back off from the uber intensity. Im really surprised you haven’t succumbed to the ‘athletes heart syndrome’ or gotten cancer the way you continuously beat the shit out of yourself. Don’t stop living… just start living wisely. There’s a difference between being healthy and working hard and completely beating the dogshit out of yourself.

  5. The Cyclist

    Those heart rate figures are suicidal. Especially so when u r over 50. Nice bike though…

  6. Ti-Raleigh

    I got to meet Tucker …. great dog. What’s your opinion of the race in general ? It’s great to see racing in my hometown …

  7. James

    HR #s are individual specific. I’m over 50 & see 190 & ave’s in 160s. Not a problem.

  8. Paul Boudreaux

    Steve: Love your toughness, but man it seems like you need to give yourself a few days rest and let your body at least reset. Zero medical knowledge here, but the way your heart rate is going from one extreme to the other seems a bit questionable. Your the fastest 56 year-old on the planet and it won’t slow you down any to take a bit of a rest. I leave you with a quote from a dude who was even more committed and crazier than you…

    These things bring you to reality as to how fragile you are; at the same moment you are doing something that nobody else is able to do. The same moment that you are seen as the best, the fastest and somebody that cannot be touched, you are enormously fragile. Ayrton Senna

  9. Christian Davenport

    Senna….Someone who was completely in tune with his own mortality. His faith was the driving force that allowed him to overcome all fears and dangers of his profession.

  10. Bruce Gilbert

    Some years ago, we worked out a set of rough numbers for recovery. What used to be overnight for folks in their twenties to thirties was up to a week for the geriatrics like myself. Your decreasing performance and recovery quotient may well be age related, or it could be something completely different.

    Please forgive how this may sound, but as an individual race practitioner, do you have the same set of resources at your daily disposal as a division 1 team racer? Probably not. Plus, you are in competition with younger athletes with not so many miles in their bodies as you have amassed.

    Get the best medical attention and checkup that you can afford. There may be something going on that you could be very surprised about. I recently discovered to have very high blood pressure. Now, I am having the deal with the drug aftermath of that. Talk about a performance limiter. This stuff is driving me nuts. The medical profession just does not have too much good data on competitive athletes at your age. At over 65 it is a lot worse. This weekend I had the pleasure of crawling down the road at 20mph. It was embarrassing and frustrating. But, they have to keep me from having a stroke.

    Let me make a small proposal here. Perhaps is might be time to change roles slightly from a full time competitor to that of sport ambassador and role model for adult fitness.

    Talk to Gina about the corporate program that Mike and I proposed to her at Interbike last year. She visited us at our booth and we showed her something that made sense. It has been working in Houston for us and can produce a good income for you too. We wanted you to call us after the show to discuss. Call me…

  11. Jeff D.

    Gilbert: I’ve been on blood pressure meds for yrs. (lorsartan) there are meds that don’t hurt performance so maybe talk to your doc. About changing what your taking.

  12. Krakatoa East of Java

    I think you travel too much. Don’t get me wrong – I love to travel – but it takes a toll on your mind and body. We all need that sense of “home” to feel and be well. I always wonder why you don’t relocate to someplace like SoCal and just assimilate more into the local culture (athletic and otherwise). I find your schedule exhausting to READ (let alone experience first hand). I can’t imagine the physical and mental stress you must be experiencing if you’re constantly driving 500-800 mile days and then doing 2-3 hour rides the same day. I think that by refusing to curb your travel schedule, you’re setting yourself up for some big health issues in the future.

    Either slow down or get a reality show on TLC (at least make some money from the hectic pace). Wait, I got it: “Tilly Knows Best”

  13. Peter W. Polack

    Wonder why YOU’RE not performing? Read my tale of woe.

    A few weeks ago I went on a ride with some buddies and I had a major meltdown. I was gasping for air on the climbs and was dragging on the flats.

    Last time this happened, while riding with the same friends, 3 days later I was admitted to the hospital with pulmonary embolisms (blood clots in the lungs).

    So when I experienced the same symptoms recently, I listened to my experienced friends’ stern advice and went to see the doctor.

    Funny thing; as an athlete, my first thought both times was- I’m UNDER trained.

    Well, this time was no joke either. My heart was missing a beat. I just spent 4 days in the cardiology wing of the hospital.

    Current diagnosis is it’s caused by Lyme Disease. If that doesn’t work, it’s pacemaker time.

    Steve, my moral to this story is; you could have something more serious going on than a common infection. Perhaps seek more thorough blood work.

  14. Krakatoa East of Java

    Steve, in not holding a “job” per-se, you probably don’t have medical insurance. Would that be correct? Trudi probably works on a 1099 basis for BMC, right? You’ve got a lifestyle and finances that allows you to travel often (but you do it on-the-cheap, usually), but I don’t get the impression that you’re a “liquid” guy. You seem to drive very far to get “bro-deal” medical treatment when you need it. It seems that when you do get medical advice, it’s very pointedly directed and issue-specific. Do you get complete physical exams every year? I think at some point, your “I’m a bike racer, so long as I’m not injured, I’m in great health” curve will cross your “Steve’s getting a tad bit older, and statistics say that stuff eventually goes wrong” curve.

    I remember back when I believed that being a cyclist automatically made me “healthy”. I no longer subscribe to that belief system. The doctor is now part of my “life team”. We keep a closer eye on blood work, new issues, etc.

    I think you need to start budgeting for some regular interactions with the doc. The one that lives in town.

    Or, perhaps this is the bigger question… What’s “your plan” for your future lifestyle? Compete as a Pro until they have to pry the bars out of your hand? Do you have some kind of bet going with Thurlow?


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