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September 2, 2001

Post Mt. Evans I was isolated. Coming down to my empty house was harder than if I'd just sat at home and scratched myself while eating pork rinds, and my website would be about 1/10 the size too. It's the times when I achieve the most that I miss having that special partner in my life to share my joy with.

I'd had a blessed year of racing and was showing abilities I never knew I had. Having played catch-up on my Saturday morning club rides for years, I was now dominating every ride, and it felt really good. Unlike Korea, the competition here wasn't weak. At the finish of every single club ride, at least one rider would come up and ask, "Why don't you join our team? You have a lot of power!" On my last Saturday morning club ride I went a step further. It had been a truly hard week of riding, I knew the state time trial was coming up, and I needed to make a special effort. I did a race on Thursday night and the field broke up, so I ended up chasing for most of the ride--but that was the plan. I wanted to wear myself out, so I kept allowing the gaps to come, and then tried to chase back. Come Saturday morning I was so tired. I was ready to get thrashed.

My plan on this last ride was to make myself crack--to ride so hard and expend so much energy that my system would crash and I'd be forced on the defensive as the other riders attacked and attacked me. I wanted to be forced to dig deep and hurt. From the start I took charge, leading the group, knowing this would wear me out and keep them fresh. I had a small mechanical problem in the first mile and stopped, letting the other 16 riders ride away with about a 1 1/2 minute lead. Then I caught them, and then, five miles later when we hit the first climb, I went around all the riders, to the front of the group, set the pace up the hill, and broke everyone. This was unbelievable! Only two riders could stay in my draft and we rode off together, sprinting for the stoplight. I was the first there. For the entire ride I stayed in front and no one could handle me. Boy if Kenny could see me now!

Imagine how fast I would have been without 160 pounds of horse on me
I won every sprint, but this time I didn't ride smart. I rode with the intent of wearing myself out and forcing the other riders to drop me. Only problem was, they couldn't. At the end of the ride I attacked off the front of the group like a dumbass, at 58 kilometers an hour, and won the last sprint to the bicycle shop. These guys who'd killed me the years before just looked and wondered what I was on. I was high on Mt. Dew and chocolate Ex-Lax I guess. Then I rode an extra 60 miles that day to cover an even 100 miles (in prep for Okinawa---200 kilometers). I was tired, but apparently, recovering very well.

Out of all the great rides I'd had that year, beating most of my personal bests, setting a personal best on every training time trial I rode, and at the age of 35, riding the best I had my entire life, short of going to Okinawa in November (still my original plan), I needed one great way to cap off my season. Something I could put in my hand. On September 2, I got it.

I'd never been so nervous before a state championship as I was this day because I knew I could do something great. I expected to ride well. The wind was very heavy, making times slow. We went one at a time, in one minute intervals, no drafting allowed, just racing against the clock. This race is purely to see who is the strongest rider in the state by who could ride 25 miles the fastest.

When we were getting ready to start, I spoke to the guy in front of me and asked him what his time was from the previous year. It was just a few seconds off my best time, so I thought perhaps I could use him to gauge to my progress, a bunny rabbit to chase.

He started one minute ahead of me and I caught and passed him within the first 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). I was on course to beat him by four minutes! I knew I was on a great ride--or perhaps he was having a seizure. Hmmm---I never thought of that. As always on this course, I had a lot of trouble staying comfortable on the bicycle because of the intense effort, and since it's a pretty flat course, you need to push at 100% for the entire ride--can't let up or you lose time. Lots of soft tissue screamed at me to get off! I finished in 56 minutes, 51 seconds, beating the second place finisher by a healthy margin of 58 seconds (2231 feet), winning the gold medal for the state of Virginia.

Only 23% of the riders racing against me were able to even break an hour due to very heavy winds, and I'd done it by over three minutes. It was my fastest 40K ever, and my biggest win ever. I'd finally made my mark.

Sure, no one will care about this when I'm gone, but when they gave me that little cheap gold medal, and there wasn't chocolate in the middle of it, and all the strangers clapped, not one of them knew anything more about me than that I was a strong cyclist with a big nose, bad posture, no feeling left in my crotch, and a little voice like Latka Gravas. I got a little choked up. Perhaps for a minute or so. Cold irony. No cameras were there, in fact, no photos exist of me riding a bicycle in 2001. Even alone though, it was really cool.

I drove home to my empty house, tossed my medal into the closet, and took a nap, thinking to myself,"What do I do now?"

Get my good side will ya?

Quick, get in the car, I think he's coming after us!Virginia State Medal...pure gold...uhhh

These photos are the bicycle--I like to get a lot of photos when I have a fast ride so I can see what I did right and what I did wrong. A few days later I obliterated my fastest 10K time on my training course along the Chesapeake Bay--- 13 minutes, 37 seconds, and when I did it, I happened to pass a group of riders that included the lady who lived next door to me. They were doing 20 kilometers an hour--I passed them cruising at 50. More face/butt time with the fans, and she even recognized me---makes you wonder though, because I passed with head down, ass up in the air. How did she know? Aerodynamic, yes, but makes you vulnerable to lonely bulls. Perhaps I mooved her. I felt at this rate, I'd be more than ready to race Okinawa in November. I thought. My brain was very sore.