Tis the season. December is here. So, what does this mean? To most endurance athletes, it means long, boring rides on the trainer while catching up on episodes of The Office, or whatever the favorite TV show might be, in attempt to build a strong foundation for which the hopeful Taj Mahal might be erected come September/October. The “spare bedroom” provides the perfect training conditions for this; 72 degrees, no wind, motivational music on the iPod. This is all considering that you don’t live in Southern California, Florida, or have a bungalow in Australia where you live/train six months out of the year. “What are rollers? Oh, I know. Aren’t those them taquitos at 7-eleven?” If you are not familiar with CycleOps, Minoura, Kinetc or CompuTrainer, consider yourself lucky. For most of us, trainers are just a part of cycling in the “off-season.”
So some circus clowns, with maybe too much time on the trainer in the winter months, with a slight case of cabin fever, thought it would be genius to host a duathlon series from December to late February – in Denver. And – they were right. Racing Underground hosts the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon Series at Cherry Creek State Park every year for relief from the daily grind most may encounter in the months of misery on the Minoura.
Marketed as Denver’s low key, low cost multisport winter series, I would like to disagree. Low key? This year, Racing Underground welcomed 250+ athletes to compete on a well marked course accompanied by volunteer marshals, dished out hot post-race grub and refreshments, slaved over a stove while making HOMEMADE banana bread, brought vendors such as Sketchers and MIX1 with random prizes awarded by Rudy Project. AND, all of this for only a $25 entry fee. Yeah, that doesn’t sound “low key” to me.
Last year I was plagued by a wicked reoccurring injury, so I was unable to participate in the Chilly Cheeks Duathlon, but this year I’m up and running. I just wanted to place top-10 and be within 10% of the overall winner’s time (Criteria for PRO/Elite duathlon license) going into the race. While racking my bike, I’m on the flip side of a rocket with E. Oliver on the top tube, and I’m instantly questioning myself. To make matter worse, Cody Waite of EPC Multisport arrives. Great! No, Not really. Well boys, it looks like we’re all racing for second place now. I know that Cody just wrapped up an extraordinary XTERRA season, so I’m not sure if he’s on a recovery phase from the long season, or if he just carried his momentum into December. We’ll soon see.
Time: 10:00 a.m. Temperature: 28 degrees Wind: 7 mph ESE
We’re off and running on the first segment of the race, which is a 4 mile road/trail run followed by a 10.8 mile out and back road bike. Within a half mile I noticed that Cody was breathing a little heavy as the pace was being pushed by Andy Ames. I had no intentions of running any faster than I had to, so I placed myself just off Andy’s shoulder as we were heading straight into a headwind. At two miles I realized that we had a decent size lead on third place, so I started to back off the pace as it was faster than I had ran in a while, and in hopes that I would be able to put more effort into the bike. Andy now had about :30 on me as we went through transition. I was thinking that I might be able to makeup a few seconds in transition and maybe catch him a few miles into the bike. As I started to gain on Andy I knew that I would take over as the leader between miles 2 and 3, but I knew Cody was cranking on the pedals not far behind me. At the turnaround point I could now see that gap I had on the rest of the field, and I thought, “These last miles are going to hurt.” With just a few miles until the finish I was anticipating Cody passing me. I started to reflect all the success Cody had in XTERRA and I thought, “I’m not that caliber,” and it’s just a matter of time until I hear that unforgettable sound of a disc wheel zipping by. Then… I used that same thought to push harder and propel myself to that level where I know I could be. “I am THIS good.” 50:21 | 1st place. It was really nice to “win” the race, but I really won inside. I haven’t been fueled like this in years. It feels like I have to redeem myself this year for that past few seasons. Now that I’m up and running, I’m looking forward to the 2011 season.