controlling our turf.
Yokota Airbase held an annual 32 kilometer bicycle race (it was actually 34.5 kilometers though) and Keith Orme, our friend/rival from Camp Zama was racing. We, being Volvo, had to win here. J.T. and I called a team meeting (J.T. being the manager and me, team captain who was appointed by J.T.) and discussed how to deal with this. My last win was boring, way too easy, and I wanted to see if we could be a real team and support another rider for a win. Joe Zamora, mediocre until May 1989, was on fire. I’d been riding with him and he was unbelieveable. On training rides, he’d been out sprinting me, and came within seconds of me on the climb to Okutama. No one from the team had ever come that close to me on that climb before. Art could out-climb me but was a long-distance time trialist, which didn't help him much in the mass-start races, and he was so busy training for his triathlons, he rarely raced with the team. But it was scary how much Joe had improved...so we picked Joe to win.
J.T. had a serious knee injury and couldn’t compete so he would follow the race on a motor-scooter. We had myself, Joe, Chris, and Doug (Craig was off the team due to inner-team disputes and accusations of bicycle theft). Doug and Chris, the two newest guys, would control the race...keep Keith in check (HA!!!) while Joe and I would stay in contention and conserve our energy. On the last U-turn, I'd break with Joe and give him a 2 1/2 mile lead-out, whereupon we'd hold off Keith, who was a fearsome sprinter. Joe could out sprint me but I could ride off alone at high speed better than he could. If Keith was to catch us then Joe, rested from sharing the pace with me, would still have a chance to out-power Keith. We were afraid it would come down to a mass sprint and Keith would win OUR base with all the Volvo jerseys behind him. We did a few team training rides with Joe and I rehearsing the whole thing and terrorizing the local drivers…hehehe.
We had three cameras, a television station and a newspaper covering the race. Here are some shots of Joe (red bike-blue shoes), Doug (pink bicycle-no helmet), and me (tiny person) clowning around during the warm-up. There are quite a few photos of this--obviously J.T. was shooting these and encouraging us.
Below that, J.T. on his moped obviously asking Joe and I to smile or some silly thing--I was so nervous I had to be silly to cut the tension. My monkey face served the job.
Above, you see the dude in the red with black suspenders off the front, heading into a very heavy wind (he was an aggressive rider), and in the next photo, Keith leading the chase to catch him. It was pretty routine, and Keith, Doug, Joe, and I were plenty strong to catch the breakaways, but then Keith started getting spunky in the chase. In the below photo, you can see that he was opening a gap on the guy behind him, with Joe and I two riders back--a bad sign. J.T. would pull along side of me on his scooter and say,"Conserve energy MIKE", knowing how I liked to pull pacelines and chase breakaways by myself. He always tried to teach me patience and strategy, but sometimes in racing you need an outburst. J.T.'s job was to watch the race and make sure the outburst counted.
By the time I reached the finish I could only maintain 31 miles an hour, but I'd held off the charging pack. Unfortunately, I told my boss I'd work that morning after the race, so I never stopped at the finish...I just rode on to work and returned to the finish 30 minutes later to find out what had happened.
Doug's father shot the last six photos (Doug is 3rd on the last three photos and Chris is behind him). I'd taken off so fast, the pack milled around for a while not knowing what to do.
Keith and Joe did a cat-and-mouse game for the last 2 1/2 miles, shaking off everyone but Chris and Doug (my mates). They hit the line at 45 miles an hour, almost crashing into an unsuspecting motorist, and Joe out sprinted Keith for 2nd! Anger brings out the best in us too.