The Year of Goodbyes
Two weeks after the Seattle operation, I thought I'd try a bicycle race. There was a "team" time-trial at Liberty Lake, Idaho, where we went two riders at a time, and paced each other. I rode with Kaleb Pederson (the guy who beat me a month earlier when I finished second) and we finished 3rd that day. Miimii still had the video camera from the day before, and I'm the guy in back, but we switched the lead position constantly as we rode. Our average speed was actually slower than what I did alone just a month earlier, so I knew I wasn't at my best. As we hung around at the finish, hamming it up and being pals, I felt a sharp pain in my groin, something I'd never felt before. I told Miimii rather firmly to get in the car, and we sped to the emergency room at Fairchild. The pressure of my saddle during that bicycle race had opened the 2-inch long, 1/2 inch deep incision from the July operation in a very tender area. I almost lost my lunch (beautiful story) when I saw it. We reached the hospital before I started any serious bleeding and after I was ministered to I was given an athletic supporter. They told me to stay off my bicycle for at least another week.
By August 23rd, wearing my supporter, I began racing yet again. I raced a 33-mile road race in Cheney, finishing somewhere in the middle of the pack, another time trial at Liberty Lake, and on August 27th, the District road race.
This race was held at Rosalia Washington, part of the 1994 "Hammerfest". While warming up, I ran into an aquaintance, Dr. Bill Misner, world class cyclist/ runner for the 50+ age group. Bill and I met in 1990 during a presentation at the Fairchild Air Force Base gym. I'd see Bill many times after that at races, and he'd ride up to me and say,"Hey Mike!" always with a smile. I recently found out he won his race that day.Bill still holds many world records for the 50+ age group. Click on the photo to read more about Bill.
Dr. Bill Misner>>>
At that same presentation, I also met Mike Trail, runner up in the 1987 RAAM (Race Across America), a non-stop coast-to-coast bicycle race. The record crossing is under nine days, and that's for about 3000 miles! Mike lived just north of Spokane, in Collville. I remember drawing a laugh at the end of the presentation when I told Mike I'd love to ride with him, if he had some spare time and felt like "riding to Kansas". But Mike and I never got together. I was so lucky to be surrounded by, and aquainted with, so many world-class athletes, and to compete in world-class competitions such as Bloomsday.

Back to the race...Ten miles into the race, after a very slow pace into horrible headwinds and hills, the pace suddenly quickened and there was a massive crash that took down about seven riders to my right. I missed it by a few inches. It was a pretty serious pile-up (one rider broke his jaw). The rest of the riders bolted, but I lost them while swerving around the crash. I caught them in a sharp turn but couldn't shift down into a smaller gear to accelerate, so I lost them again. This was the second time in 1994 that I lost the leaders in a race because of a lousy drivetrain. I chased very hard for many miles.

A waterbottle fell off my bicycle, so I stopped to grab it, figuring I probably wouldn't win the race, but a waterbottle is worth about five dollars! When I did that, two riders caught me from behind. The three of us worked together and eventually caught four more riders, and the seven of us chased at 50 kilometers an hour (kph). We were really moving! We hit some rolling hills and the group broke up, but the chase never slowed. In the final 1-mile climb, I caught two more riders, passed them, then from behind a rider who'd dropped me on all the other climbs, flew by. He got 30 meters ahead and then slowed. Apparently he took off too fast and blew up. I kept my same pace, passed him near the top, and descended at 78 kph into a sharp, right-hand turn and to the finish. Unfortunately I never found out my placing, but I was a minute back of the winners in the 49-mile race. It was my best finish in a district road race ever, even though I wasn't firing on all cylinders.

After all I'd been through, I was pleased to be riding so well. No medical emergencies this time either. On my last road race, my seat post came loose and I had to stand on the pedals for twenty miles, sapping my strength so badly that Jeremy, the club 12 year-old nearly beat me. Mitch won that race! In my last race at the track, it was very windy and I'd been lifting weights, so my legs were shot.

Miimii and I attended a Baddlands Bicycle Club awards banquet on 21 September. It was preceded by a short race which I couldn't attend because my bicycle had already been shipped to my new home in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Once again I bid a tearful goodbye to my friends.

Joy is knowing who you are and what your limits are...and then exceeding them>>>
First kilometer--give it a few minutes to play
Last kilometer--give it a few minutes to play

September 1994

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Here's a photo I took off Mitch's website. He used to have a mustache:
My Friend at Work>>>