My dedication continued. When asked what I did I said,"I'm a cyclist". The Air Force was how I supported my habit. I was 4th in the Chesapeake time trial, 2nd in the Maryland state time trial, continued to dominate Saturday morning group rides, and beat my best time on my time trial course every single time I rode it. I was in the zone and loving it.
The previous month I had one of my better mass-start races, with about 80 riders flying along a 49 mile course. Although I could barely hang on, I got into three or four breakaways, usually when one of the four laps passed the start area and the fans could see me. At the start of the last lap I took off in a breakaway, my fellow escapees fell back to the main pack, and another two riders came up to me and wanted to work with me. I tried hard but didn't have anything left, so I fell back, so far that I was off the back of the main pack, but somehow got enough energy to scratch my way back.
There was a massive crash on the final lap that almost took me down because a wall of bicycles came across my path from the right and missed me by an inch. I locked up my brakes, then tried to force a chase to the front half of the group in the wrong gear. I had all kinds of muscle spasms but I caught them. The chase used up a lot of energy and I was tired again. I figured into the final lunge for the finish, but wasn't even close. I hate being boxed in, so while the smart guys were all bumping and drafting for position, I was way off on the left side of the road by myself, safe, but not using any positioning to my advantage.
The highlight of the race, oddly enough, was as I was loading my car--a guy walked up to me and told me how admired how aggressively I raced.
On May 27, in Christiansburg, Virginia, I rode the Mountains of Misery bicycle tour, a 105 mile ride with 10,000 - 15,905 feet of climbing (depending on whose figures you believe). In a word, brutal. The ride included a category 2 climb (in cycling terms, the second hardest measurable climb) and ended, at 100 miles, with a 5-mile category 1 climb (most difficult measurable climb). This was the same course the Tour du Pont had done over the years, with the likes of Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong racing here.
The ride started with a cold downhill sprint out of Christiansburg under police escort with 199 cyclists all over the road (by the way---I'm not in any of these photos and none are from 2001). I backed off because I thought there was going to be a major accident. Some riders didn't even stay on the right lane and there were several close calls with oncoming traffic at over 40 miles an hour. These guys weren't being brave...they were being stupid.
I was pleased at how well I climbed that day, and very impressed that I was able to take off my jacket on a downhill without stopping.