Sunday, June 20, 2010

How I Won the Smith & Nephew Gran Prix Omnium

Yes, lucky readers, it is I again ... your hero, Max Watzz. I'm here to tell you about how I won the Smith & Nephew Gran Prix Omnium in Memphis this past Saturday.

RB: Wait a minute, Max. You didn't win that race. You only took fifth in the road race and third in the time trial.

MW: Do not interrupt me, you imbecile! And certainly do not correct me! Technically, I won both of those races.

RB: Oh, yeah, right. I'm just dying to hear this one.

MW: I wish.

Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I'm going to tell you about my masterful racing this past weekend, and how I won the omnium.

RB: You didn't even race the criterium, Sunday.

MW: I didn't have to, since I'd already won the other races.

RB: That's not how it works ...

MW: I told you to be silent.

RB: [Sigh]

MW: That's better.

Anyway, first I will tell you about the road race. It was a fairly flat course, which didn't give me a chance to best use my extraordinary climbing prowess, but did lend itself to my explosive sprinting capabilities. I had thought about going off the front early and just schooling the field, but decided to conserve my energies -- yes, they do seem boundless, but it's best not to push it -- and just sit in for the full 32 miles.

It was hot, and the other riders were suffering as they tried to mimic my ability to perform at a peak level in spite of any hurdle that nature attempts to put in my path. In the end, they were all wilting as we approached the finish line, and it was easy for me to finally exert a fraction of the awesome power that seems always at my disposal, and pass everyone to a first-place finish.

RB: But you were fifth ...

MW: And I commanded silence! Although I may not have been the first one over the line, I would have been if you had done as I instructed and gone to Memphis the night before. It was your wasteful use of our time, driving us there Saturday morning, that kept me from proper pro behavior. I should have spent the morning lounging around the hotel, getting a massage from my soigneur ...

RB You don't have a soineur!

MW: I don't have one because you are too cheap to hire one!

RB: Cut me a break.

MW: Anyway, as I was saying, after thoroughly decimating the other riders with a sprint that would be Herculean only if Hercules had been as god-like as I am, I then went on to dominate the time trial, beating all of my so-called competitors by a full minute.

RB: Oh, come on! You were five seconds slower than the winner ...

MW: I am the winner! I am always the winner. And if you're going to keep interrupting me, then I am leaving! Goodnight, loyal readers -- I leave you to read whatever drivel RandoBore may now spout. Believe me when I tell you, though, that he is lying!

RB: Man, what a putz.

Max did get a few facts right. I went to Memphis this past Saturday to do the Smith & Nephew road race and time trial. I had to come back Saturday night, since Sunday was Father's Day and I wanted to hang out with my two favorite ladies. Besides, Sunday was the criterium, and those still scare me.

Max was also right in that it was hot.

That's the thermometer in the RAAMinator, which is usually pretty accurate if it's not sitting still out in the sun.

So, as you can tell, it was almost 80 degrees and it wasn't yet 8 am. By the time I got to the road race start, it was officially "Africa Hot."

As Max said, I mostly stayed in the pack ... actually, in the back of the pack the first time through the 16-mile loop course. Then I moved up a bit, and even took a pull when somebody guilted me into it. About mile 28, it was 12:30 pm and easily over 100 degrees. We were all seriously hot and tired, and everybody was pouring the last of whatever cold water we had over our heads and down the backs of our necks. I started to fade, but fortunately the rest of the pack faded with me so I was able to hang on. When we finally came up to the finish line, nobody had anything to sprint with, so I was able to move up a bit more and get over the line fifth.

That's when I saw this guy, and he saved my life.

This is John Shelso, a fellow randonneur who lives in Memphis. He had come out to watch the race, and as I limped off the course he handed me a bottle of cold water, which I immediately poured over my head. Then he gave me a tube sock full of ice, which I put on my neck.

Nothing in my life has ever felt better than that tube sock full of ice felt, on my neck, at that moment.

John and I hung out for a bit while I drank more water and got my core temperature back to normal. After they announced the race results (I was fifth, in spite of what Max says), we went over to Lenny's Subs for lunch. John gave up his Saturday ride to save my life and watch the race, and I appreciate it more than I can possibly ever say.

After lunch, John finally went to get in a little bit of a ride, and I drove over to Germantown to check out the time trial course. This is a really nice suburb of Memphis, although I did not see any affable burghers or frauleins in leiderhosen eating schnitzel. It could easily have been Brentwood.

I've been looking forward to finally doing a time trial, since the one at Highland Rim was rained out, and was really excited. I'd gotten some clip-on aero bars from Gran Fondo, and installed them after the road roace.

After looking at the course, I went to fill up the RAAMinator for the ride home (Memphis has a lot of BP stations, with the occasional Exxon station between -- being politically conscious forced me to drive 10 miles in search of gas). I changed into my skin-suit in the gas station bathroom, then drove back to the course to warm up. Since it was still at least 95 degrees outside, this did not take long.

Finally, about 6:20 pm, I went off. The course was four miles long: two miles down a pretty flat road along a quiet railroad grade to a turnaround, and then two miles back. I rode it about as hard as I could, although I maybe could have been a little faster turning around. I must admit that I did get a greedy sense of pleasure when I passed the guy who had started 30 seconds ahead of me.

Much as we might like to deny it, there's a little bit of Max Watzz in all of us.

Anyway, I finished in 8:43, which was well inside of my goal. I'd hoped to average 27 mph, and I did. The winner finished in 8:38, and second place was 8:39.

Afterwards, when I finally stopped sweating and got my temperature close to normal again, I changed clothes and hung out at the finish line watching the last racers come in. I'd brought a sandwich and some nuts, and ate those and drank a couple of diet root beers. Here's a couple of my racing friends, Jeremy and Valerie Nagoshiner.

And here's some video of one of Valerie's teammates, Lisa Starmer, finishing her time trial.

Since I had a long drive back, I left right after this. On the way home, here's what the RAAMinator had to say  about the temperature.

Yeah, 8:12 pm and it was still 85 degrees. Ouch.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on a very respectable finish, and also on surviving the heat. This weekend was flat-out nasty. (Also, happy Father's Day!)