Friday, August 8, 2008

The only reason I'd sit one out

Perhaps, getting to help pit and support the cyclists known as Juniors in their next 24hr adventure would give me the only excuse to finally sit out a solo 24.

After reading the blogs and comments from Jeff, Jay, and Mountaingoat I really have had some time this week to sit and reflect on the JUNIORS. I'm referring to not only the EXPO Juniors but also the juniors from MARS.

Aris, Theo, Brandon, Jordan, Phillip, Kyle, Myles, Mitch, Nate, Caleb, Gage and Griffin - They are all fast. And for some odd reason know just how to act on a National stage. No chicken-like strut, raised eyebrows or obnoxious 'barks' as they roll through the transition tent. Just flat-out put the hammer down riding with a nice and polite "thank you" as they passed everybody with ease.

You read all the stories of how the Chris/Josh battle was one for the ages. It was. However, the Junior race was a dog fight till the end that most certainly would make it into the same chapter. EXPO led lap one only to lose it the next lap with a flat and a taco'd wheel. From lap 2 thru 14 they would see the deficit expand to as much as 22 minutes.

Folks, A cloud of concern had begun to roll in.

And before anybody had a chance to throw in the towel, the lead and leader had completely swapped by lap 17. What better way to spend your 4:30am lap than to have your littlest Bro make the pass for the Junior Title Lead and then zoom by his biggest bro to get to break the news. Who needs energy drinks, when a solo rider can get that kind of an adrenalin boost.

Lap 18 - The lead changed back to the Sharks.

Lap 19 - EXPO got it right back.

Lap 20 - Theo went out with the lead. He was caught just before Twinkie Hill (half way point of lap). Most kids would crack, but Theo kept the deficit to only 45 seconds.

Lap 21 - Aris leaves the transition tent 45 seconds after the sharks. On any other day or any other lap, Aris overtakes a 45second lead within a few miles and gets to roll through the finish line with his usual smile. But, when someone from a four-person 24hr team is asked to produce a 7th lap, all bets are off. It was just too much for even Aris "I'm Faster Than You" Peters.

He rolled through the Red Bed Checkpoint 1min30sec back. At that point, his legs had started to give. The EXPO Junior team lost by less than 5minutes. They lost by less than 5 minutes in a 24 HOUR race that included a flat and a taco'd wheel. However, as Jeff would say, that's Racin'.

And now that I can look back at the most amazing span of 24hours I have spent(seriously, what better way is there to spend 24hours than riding your bike non-stop). It's not the result or the swag that makes the competitor. It is the performance. It is the performance under pressure.

If there ever was a time or reason for Family, Friends and Sponsors to truly appreciate why they support us as athletes, this is it. These kids are why we do what we do.


darwin said...

Great words Gus. You guys are all inspirations for me.

Jay said...

You hit it right on the head. I race not because I love it but I love racing with Nate and the Jr's. I'm not fast and I have issues on certain courses but I never give up the fight as I don't want the kids to see it. But you are right, it would be so easy to sit back and watch them race or help them and get more satisfacation then racing myself but now I get to race the same time. I always say in 4 years he is gone and then what? I'm doing it now as in 4 years I get to hang out with my old friends then. Race now and enjoy being out there at the same time as it is almost over and then you will wish you raced with them.