FUCANCER Doesn’t Quit

CRYSTAL CITY, VIRGINIA

My third year in a row for the Air Force Crystal Classic. Two years ago I rode on my own and my timing chip on my shoe didn’t work. It had recorded just two of my eight laps.

Last year I rode with friends from The Bike Lane and at the start of the second lap my Garmin mount broke, my Garmin went flying, and I had to retrieve the Garmin and lost contact with my group.

Today, well, today was going to be different. Meeting up with some riders from The Bike Lane, we were planning to average 20 mph over the course. But we were at the back of nearly 1,000 riders at the start. On Lap One we had to pick and weave past slower riders, until we came to the turn around near the Iwo Jima Memorial. There a girl had crashed, the police were attending to her and one line, not lane, got by. It seemed we spent about four minutes with a foot on the ground.

Adam Lewandowski kitting up

Adam Lewandowski, James Mortson, Dennis McDonald, Rich McAfee, and I formed a “team” which was going well. After a slow first lap due to a bottleneck when the girl crashed, we hit the second 10 mile loop in 22 mph. I looked down and saw we had recovered and were averaging 20 mph for the ride.

Dennis McDonald

There were times the heat was starting to get to me. Almost from the start I wondered how long I could hang with the big boys – all racers for The Bike Lane. But I hung.
We finished the fourth lap and Rich needed a “natural break.” James and I continued on although we soft pedaled. We decided to pull over for water at the Air Force Memorial. As I was climbing the hill I flatted. That made my decision easy.

But then I blew the repair. I used my one tube and one CO2 cartridge and it popped. I popped.

At this point, having ridden 45 miles (4.5 laps) and thus having qualified for a silver medal, I was pleased we had averaged 20 mph. I had had enough. I looked for a SAG vehicle to take me back to my van. but I found none.

James Mortson and Rich McAfee

I started to walk. As I walked I thought about where I was going. Back to the van. And back in the van was — a spare wheel. I did a quick time calculation. If I ran to the van and made a quick wheel change, I could get back on course and finish the six laps in the required three hours and earn a gold medal. I took off my cleated shoes and ran barefoot to the van.

Back on course I rode the last 1.5 laps at 18.7 mph, solo. On the last lap I probably passed 100 cyclists and got passed but no one. Well, not technically true. I cramped in the hamstring with two miles to go and while soft pedaling someone passed me. Once I learned how to not make it worse, I pedaled by him.

I came in, picked up my medal, and had time to reflect. 

I wore my FUCANCER kit today. Perhaps any other kit and I would have accepted my fate that a flat that ended my day. But when you represent FUCANCER you do not quit.

 The first 45 miles until the flat.

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