$50 prize purse and a free piercing: Mark V’s time trial

tampa%20tt.jpgContinuing on my vacation in Florida, one of my goals was to participate in a bike race. Keeping in mind my other social goals (one of them visiting a girl in South Carolina) and the fact that my convertible road/track travel bike is without spare shifters or derailleurs, I was limited to finding a time trial within a few hours of Gainesville on the Saturday before I left for Hilton Head Island. Set up as a fixed gear with a front brake only, my bike would be regulated out of mass start criteriums and road races. But it just so happened that there was a 7-mile time trial in Tampa that weekend (I hoped that officials wouldn’t want to argue about legality of having just a front brake, though I believe it is technically okay for fixies in time trials).

The night before my homeboy and I drove down from Gainesville and crashed the house of my long-lost cousin with just a few hours notice… which of course is the proper bike-slacker .ahem, I mean bike-racer style. A stylish performance should look effortless. Of course, appearing like you’re not trying takes a certain effort. One integral part of this strategy is to get lost on the way to the race course, but unfortunately we pre-registered at the course the night before inadvertently familiarizing ourselves with the area. Further compounding the problem, we even arrived early the morning of the race. Clearly, I would have to try much harder to f*#k up my race.

First off, I needed to waste precious time by way of monkeying with the gear ratios of my bike. Then I carefully interrupted my progress by greeting every racer that I hadn’t seen since I moved to Seattle. Having exhausted my options for inefficiency, I then dressed out and did my half-assed warm-up ride. But even the best made plans for chaos require a bit of luck, and as it was, I forgot to have my homie pin my number on before my warm-up. Now I had to circle back to the car, find the number, and find some schmo to pin it to me. Bonus: I forgot to synchronize my watch to the official race clock and thus had a reasonable chance of missing my start.

I did need to get that number pinned on my skinsuit, since I had to look like I was supposed to compete. I looked about for that one ex-teammate whose car was parked nearby.

Hey, Adam, could you pin me up?

Oh sure

Now, I’ll have you know that acquiring an extra-small skinsuit is quite a task in the era since the advent of baggy hip-hop fashion, super-size fries, and American-sizing clothes; relaxed fit is okay for my denim but not my lycra. My old skinsuit from the University of Florida cycling team has a special spot in my wardrobe since it actually fits me with no excess fabric. However, now that I’ve pumped up to be a 135-pound slab of Asian-american beefcake, the upper portion is a wee bit tighter than before. That might explain why Adam struggled to get the number pinned; the fabric, stretched so tight over my back, was difficult to separate from my skin. He really was fighting on that last pin, but then he finally pushed it clean through. Proper pin technique dictates that the safety pin must go in and out of the number so that it less likely to tear loose.

So the number was fixed and I was ready, but wait .something was wrong. I put my hand to the number and gave it a tug. Yep Adam had pinched me in the process and consequently the number was PINNED THRU MY FLESH and hold on urgh! .I COULDN’T GET THE PIN UNDONE. Now just for a moment, I paused to contemplate leaving the number as it was. I mean, riding the time trial like that would be totally punk rock, right? Right? Yeah, it sounded pretty stupid to me too after 20 seconds. Uh, Adam, before you ride off 

Okay, now, I’m sprinting past parked cars to the staging area. Just in the nick of time, I get in line for my start. The officials wave me up, and they want to hold me up while I clip in. Coincidently, I hadn’t lubricated my Speedplay cleats in months, which had prompted me to develop a technique of small bunny-hops to generate enough force to clip into my pedals. This, I will have you know, is quite difficult to do with a USCF official trying to hold you still. Then the starter tells me that if I need to shift into a better gear, the holder could lift my rear wheel off the ground while I pedaled and popped my shifter. This of course would be quite helpful except for the fact that I am on a fixed-gear bicycle with only one gear and of course no shifters. They apparently do not notice that I have no rear brake either. I am beginning to wonder if they would have let me start riding a pogo-stick and a tambourine, but I guess the UCI doesn’t send a technical inspection committee to a time trial with a $50 purse for my category. Whew that means that I probably don’t need to worry about after-race doping controls either. (No, really, that meth-amphetamine is for my dog, Sketchy)

So after the race, homeboy and I hung out in the parking lot waiting for the results before we got some lunch. We were pretty hungry by this point since we hadn’t eaten much for breakfast. You don’t want a full stomach for a 7-mile TT, right?

How long could it possibly take for them to tally the results? More than two hours apparently. In the time after the last Pro/1/2 finshed, event organizers staged an inline skate race, posted the results, and passed out awards and we still waited some more for our results to post. How did I do? Let’s just say that my physiology, riding habits, and ADD tendencies favor short bursts of speed as opposed to steady outputs. Or you could also say I suck at time trials. Yeah, if that TT was just 6.75 miles shorter, I’d be putting the smack down somethin’ fierce. In the end, I came within 19 places of almost making back my entry fee certainly nothing to write home about but apparently not too sorry to blog.

We met up with another one of my old teammates for lunch. Big Dan had actually won the overall by a scant .15 seconds. Dan is one of the strongest riders I know, but his eating habits are insanely bad. I suspect that his daily vegetable servings consist of the ketchup on his cheeseburgers, and legend has it that as a 20-something, he couldn’t eat a banana since he didn’t know a) how to open it and b) what part to eat. I had also heard the rumor that he didn’t know the taste of apples save for the green jolly rancher candy. Despite this Dan puts a super-sized beat-down on the competition. I scarfed down a sandwich with homeboy and Dan and then left them to finish the rest of the weekend’s events. I needed to get back to Gainesville that night so I could drive the next morning to South Carolina.

So, at this point in the vacation, our hero (yours truly) has seen his estranged kin, hung out with friends in Gaineville, and done a bike race in true style. Next time, our hero attempts Goal #4 : the girl.


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