Monday, November 12, 2007

The Kilo

“I know that I am going to sound like a supermodel, but my goal tonight is to throw up”, I excitedly tell my girlfriend before she heads up to the stands to join some friends. Her response amounts to a pat on the head and an “I’m so glad you’re cute, because that sounds so wrong” look that I am convinced of interpreting as optimism. We’re minutes away from my first timed attempt at the Kilo, and I have decided that regardless of how poor my time is, if I can at least achieve that one goal than I’ll know that I could not have pushed myself any harder.

I think it was April of 2005 that I rode my first MS150 from Houston to Austin. The event drew 13,000 cyclists and encompassed 180 miles of riding split over two days. I had trained well for it, rode regularly with organized groups and had set some reasonable goals for myself regarding time for completion and average speed. I was your average charity cyclists: a guy that was just out to enjoy cycling, raise a little money for a worthy cause and push what were then my physical limits with a two day, higher mileage event. I knew I was no racer, but I still enjoyed having those goals and pushing myself along with others during the event. At the overnight stop at some park 100 miles out from Houston I lay in my 90 degree tent trying to sleep off the feeling of having molten lead in my veins.

Three or four weeks later I rode another event, the MS150 from Dallas to Ardmore, OK. The event was far smaller but still provided a practical and challenging means to test my limits and enjoy a great ride. I wanted to ride harder and faster than my time in the first event and was determined to not only utilize, but require the massage tent at the pit stop. I accomplished that goal and spent another afternoon close to tears as my body reminded me that pushing to such a degree was followed by lots of lactic acid. Again I awoke the next day and pushed in those final miles.

Hotter ‘n’ Hell was a few months later and I enjoyed yet another strong ride considering my status as a guy on a bicycle. I knew I was not carrying any kind of speed comparable to a racer, but given my fitness I was quite proud of completing the event within my goal time. Again I felt the pain of acid after the event, but within a reasonable amount of time I was walking around the parking lot and chatting with friends.

Jump forward two years in time to the Kilo, an event run during the 2007 Elite National Qualifier. I have no chance of qualifying for Nationals and will be beaten by a member of AARP, but my desire to support the track and enjoy racing was strong enough to get me out that Friday evening. Aside from being an archaic form of torture, the Kilo time trial features a standing start followed by a one kilometer sprint. Or, as Mike Morris put it to me, “The race is won in the first 45 seconds. You have to give it everything you have for that first lap. If your butt touches the saddle before you get to turn three, you’ve already lost. Lap two continues the sprint so hold nothing back. On your third lap you need to maintain and not lose too much speed, but on the fourth lap all bets are off. It’s a battle against lactic acid and you just have to try and stay on the bike.”

Mike is a bit of an expert at the Kilo, as well as the practice of inflicting oneself with massive amounts of pain through cycling. Prior to meeting Mr. Morris I had never heard of an ice bath, seen someone push their cardio so hard they puked or realized that you could ride so hard for only 200 meters that it was necessary to rest, laying down, for a full 10 minutes.

Following my attempt at the kilo, complete with what my girlfriend Betty can only now refer to as “those hilarious grunting and screaming noises”, I found myself experiencing a level of pain unmatched in any of my previous riding. Not only could I not walk, but that night, despite my exhaustion, I did not sleep. I was back up at the track the next morning for my 200 meter time trial and spoke briefly with a rider from the Compliance Depot team that stated, “I never knew that I could ride only one kilometer and still be in this much pain 12 hours later. And now here I am ready to do it again.”

“Yeah,” I thought, “I didn’t puke either.”

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At 9:25 AM, Blogger Doug said...


Nice to see that other people like to punish themselves too. What is it that drives us to such stupidity?


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