September 14, 2004
As I rushed through the twilight of the career which defined my life, I had one last goal to achieve. I'd never finished worse than fourth in a state time trial since my 1994 arrival in Virginia and wanted to maintain that in 2004 for my last race. My placings since my first time trial in 1995 were: 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 4th, 1st, 4th, 4th, and a 2nd in the Maryland states in 2001. I missed 1997 because the Air Force sent me to Texas and 1998 because they sent me to Korea. It wasn't a stellar record but when September rolled around, it seemed no matter how lousy I was riding at the time, I could always pull something out of the bag and do well in the state time trials. I felt better prepared than in 2002, not as prepared as in 2003 or most of the other years I'd ridden. Most training had been with the base bicycle club which included a lot of short powerful bursts of speed but no painful 25 mile slogs at near 100% effort where your muscles and legs cry out for relief. My mind was on my retirement and it overruled most thoughts of racing.|
The one exceptional performance I had all year was June 12, when I beat a 16 year old personal record in the 60 mile time trial. My best time for that distance was 2 hours, 49 minutes, on July 5, 1988 when I was stationed in Japan. It was such a long distance to ride at speed I just never had the guts to attempt it until 2004. I tried on June 5th, because it had been a slow Saturday. I burned out and stopped about half way through, and then tried again on June 12, and although I bonked after 50 miles and had cramps, I obliterated the old mark by 14 minutes. It wasn't so much a test of speed as it was a test of enduring pain. With all the strength I'd gained since 1988 I knew that even a less than perfect ride would beat it. I'm so insecure, I need to puff myself up, even if I'm the only one who knows.
And so August 29, 2004 was my last race in Virginia. I needed to do well so I could leave Virginia with some self-respect. The race was at Stony Creek, Virginia, and it was another very windy day. It was so windy that shortly after I started I was cruising at 35 miles an hour, a speed I normally can only reach in an all-out sprint. This meant the monster wind pushing me would be smacking me in the face on the return leg of the race. I completed 40 kilometers in 59 minutes, 17 seconds, my slowest 40K on that course, but the wind slowed everyone. I was 3rd. I never did collect my medal.
On September 14, Gizmo and I celebrated two years together (top photo). He was the best $450 I'd ever spent, and operating costs were reasonable. Just look at this precious little doggy. Gizmo had always been a hairy ball of joy and my best friend in the world.