“That’s it!” said Gainesville, Florida, Flahute (the hardest of the hard men) Big Headed Todd. He pulled out of the line, stopped pedaling and drag chuted backwards in an instant. For 12 windy miles on the drops, a Cat 1 road cyclist tortured nine of us at 30 mph. All on the rivet and nose on the stem. Single file… can’t get any lower… no where to hide… grit your teeth and don’t be the first to pop.
“That’s it!” yelled another and another… pop, pop, pop!
Nowadays in Gainesville, Florida, “That’s It!” is the thing to say when you absolutely, positively can’t turn another pedal stroke and vanish off-the-back. It’s similar to “sitting up” but with less choice implied.
So “that’s it!” is exactly what I said at last Sunday’s Darby Roubaix gravel race at Leather Mountain Resort in Ferguson, North Carolina, just four miles after the start.
Well almost exactly.
For two weeks I’d been in the throes of the worst cold-allergy-sinus infection-laryngitis-plague thing in personal history. So the actual enunciation was a bit muddied.
What came out was a squeaky, crackly, mucous spraying “thaaath thittt! punctuated with blood flecked green booger projectiles.
Then I flatted.
“Thaaath thittt!” I sprayed out again, followed by wetly barking out every Aussie curse I’d learned from JOM over the years. Sixteen hours and 1,000 miles of driving to and from Florida to make this lovely race, had ended in slobbery misery on the side of the road.
For two weeks this grunge had slithered about my respiratory tract like an evil, toxic amoeba. Sore throat, hacking cough, sneezy spray, achy brain, loss of speech… you name it.
At home, Mrs. K-Dogg hid behind her pillow mountain redoubt. Good night smooches were reduced to elbow bumps at the DMZ (demilitarized zone).
Yes, I had ignored the warning signs – too many hard miles, too much time in zone 4… but that’s where the fun is, right? Gotta catch, drop or humiliate the homies! The race is ALWAYS ON.
Then suddenly on the Friday before the race I felt miraculously cured. My headache and phlegmy demeanor were sideshows.
I was sure this had nothing to do with the three Ibuprofen’s and a Grande Starbucks…. so I convinced my wonderful chauffeur, I mean daughter, Kaitlin, to help drive up to the beautiful mountains of Ferguson, North Carolina and watch her amazing old dad ride a bike. She was not impressed.
She WAS impressed at the fields of snow and 27 degrees Fahrenheit on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Blowing Rock on a side trip the day before. My cold, dry, crackling lungs, not so much.
So what does this all have to do with the actual noble racers who rode and raced their guts out up and down the beautiful roads of Darby Roubaix? Nothing. Nothing at all except that you should train smarter than I did by listening to your body.
Don’t train sick. Don’t race sick. Don’t pretend Ibuprofen and coffee will make up the difference.
If you don’t say “That’s it!”, you will end up saying “Thaath thitt!”
I’m just sayin’.