On occasion, I do a grocery drop off for those who goes to Eden Food Bank. Today was particular busy for them. Usually I had one or two drop offs. Today I had three.
After finishing up my round, I went back home by 8 pm. With the summer weather, the sun has been setting at 9:30 pm. With an hour to spare, I took my tri bike out for a spin.
Since I ain’t racing this year, riding is not my top priority.
Today was exceptionally nice. There were section of roads newly paved and it was nice to ride on smooth surface. It was also nice to hop on my tri bike instead of my road bike. My road bike, the one that I did Ironman with, was simply too big for me. Switching onto the tri bike, I instantly noticed the difference. The tri bike, with the right size and on the tri bar, I was hovering right over the bike.
When it comes to cycling, one of the important factor is to keep your body as low as possible. The lower you are, the more ‘aggressive’ your position become. This means you are more aerodynamic and you go faster. I notice a 5-10% increase in speed just by being on the tri bar compared to without (when everything else is equal). When you are racing, every bit counts.
To ride faster, we also learn to tuck in as much as possible. Once again, to make us more aerodynamic.
We also focus on making our engine, the body, as efficient as possible.
Consciously to not make any sudden upper body moves that takes away energy.
Keep the upper body as relax as possible, make deep breathes to allow better oxygen exchange.
Peddle hard but not mashing them (this waste energy).
Smooth pedaling, going down and coming up.
Changing gears when the cadence is too fast or too slow.
Keep the neck and the head down as much as possible.
With a strong tale wind, there was section of the road I was reaching speed up to 51 kph. Normally on the same stretch I would hit 40 kph. In the car, between 40 and 50 kph is not significant. But when you are on the bike, with your head tuck down and your eyes up on the road, for a brief moment, you feel like you are flying.
Tonight, I thought about what’s going in my church, in my calling and how God is molding me. I thought about what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24…
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Side Note: Do note that in the context of what’s Paul writing in that chapter, he is defending his and Barnabas apostle rights. The earlier chapter shows that he has just as much rights as any other apostles to be supported for his work. Yet he chose to preach the gospel through his own expense. The interesting part is when he talked about bringing a believing wife (verse 5).
It was almost a year ago when I went to Australia for the World Transplant Games. My training regime wasn’t as strict as I prepared for Ironman back in 2007. Nevertheless, it was tough. Since the games I would be doing shorter races: 5 k bike time trial and a 5 k running race, my training sessions were shorter and much more intense (aka painful!).
Intervals. 2 min hard on the bike, 4 min easy, rinse and repeat.
The dreaded miles repeat on the track. I would always run those too hard and fried myself in the process..
I still remember the mentality going into the race. The days leading up to it, I told my friend that I really wanted to race. I was hungry. I prepared by putting my body through tough training and it was as strong as it could be. Just storing the energy, ready to release all of it on race day. Just give me that chance to pour on the field.
I examined the race course the day before the race. No one was there except me and a blazing sun. I did a few easy spin around the track to get the feel of it. I noticed every turn, every curve, how fast I could ride it before I had to slow down. I rode the track clockwise and counter clockwise just to cover all the possible directions.
I checked my bike, my equipment over and over again. I made sure I have enough sleep and eat as healthy as possible to keep my engine in tip top shape.
I had little or no expectation . I just wanted to race. I didn’t care about winning. I just wanted to go as hard as I can and as long as I can holding on to the pain. 5 km is a short race. In a matter of 6 minutes or so, the race would be over. There was no time to hesitate or doubt. When the clock strikes, I go. I decided to race free. No watches, no speedometer. I even took off the water cages on my bike to make it lighter.
At the race, there were many cyclists. And like most cyclists, a lot of them were hard core. Some were practicing on a trainer. Some had aero helmets. Some even had coverings over their shoes to make them more smooth and aerodynamic. Carbon wheels that cost $2,000+. The whole works.
I had been reading Proverbs 21:31…
I didn’t focus on anything except the race. Not worry about my competitors. I was with my Canadian team and we did a few spin around the track. This was a race that was dedicated to the Lord. I had no need to win other than bring glory to Him with the best of my abilities.
We lined up based on our age. We had to ride three laps. A lady located at the end of the lap would tell us how many laps we had left or if we were done. They let us go one at a time with a one minute interval. It was a long wait. I rode my bike back and fourth a few times to keep the blood flowing in the legs.
Soon it was my turn. I wished good luck to those around me.
Bam, I was off. I got out off the saddle, rode hard to pick up the speed. Then I dropped quickly into my tri position. Neck down, crank those legs, breathe in hard, breathe out hard. It was windy and I could feel the wind as I come around the first corner.
The track was made up off minor rollers and one climb on a bridge and down. As I worked my way through each turn, I remembered when to lean, when to turn, when to keep it straight. I got off the saddle and pumped my legs up the bridge. Once I was on, I quickly drop back down and kept my legs moving.
I didn’t know how fast I was going. I was simply going by feel. Keep those legs moving. Keep breathing. Easy on the upper body. And keep as low as possible.
The wind was strong and when I faced a head wind, I would switch down a gear and go on a higher cadence. Though it was only 5 k, I had to be smart and stayed as efficient as possible. When you crank up the intensity, the quads just burn. The idea was to hold the pain as long as I could. By the second and third time going up the bridge, it felt like slowed motion. I hammered as hard as I can but nothing. Just nothing.
At the end of the lap, there was one turn where it was wide and built such a way you could keep hammering and making the turn without the need to slow down. Since I practiced the day before, I did that.
It was a great feeling. I was going faster and faster in the turn and just as I exited the turn, my bike would be flying onto the straight. It was exhilarating to whip the bike down the stretch just going faster and faster….
Soon, I was down to my last lap. I was passing everyone and no one passed me yet. Since the race had a one min interval, there were more people in my age group (and just as fast) on the course. I kept to myself. Don’t want to draft off them and stayed away from them when I passed.
There was one portion of the last lap where I went on the side of the track, went on the gravel. Good thing I kept control and brought the bike back to the center.
By the time I reached the finish line, I was huffing and puffing. I had no idea what my time was. I thought I could have push myself harder. Given the fact that in my last 5 km bike Time Trial, I was riding so hard my quads were shaking after.
We waited for the results. More people raced. Kids and families were having fun, cheering and enjoying the sun. I was cheering for the Canadians.
At last, the results came and the judge announced the winners for each age group. Before, however, they apologized that there were some mistakes in the race. Some people did three laps, some did four and some did two. Because of that, no one had an exact time. I saw my time and I was ninth out of eleven.
There were huge upset. Clearly, we couldn’t redo the race. To divide the time and use averages were the worst possible way. I looked at my time and wondered if I did an extra lap or not. I didn’t know. I had no watch or speedometer to proof my time.
I took a look at the first few spots. Clearly, if the first spot was that fast, he would have lapped me already. No one passed or lapped me. So I guessed I did four laps by mistake.
I didn’t bother fighting. There were already many cyclists doing that. They were mad and angry. Cursing and swearing. Because I told God, this was His race, I let Him take care of the results.
To be honest, it wasn’t a big deal for me. I shook hands with those who won in my age group. A Canadian and I rode back to the hotel while everyone took a bus.
I did what I came to do. To ride hard and race hard to glorify Him. And I did just that.
The transplant games lasted for a total of five days. My bike time trial was on the third day. The next few days, I spent the time with a Canadian couple. The husband had a liver transplant as well and they took care of me like their own son. We went to an Australia park and saw many exotic animals (kangaroos, crocs, koala bears etc.).
As we went back to see the track and field, a lady came up to me and told me about the bike race. She asked me about my time and I told her there might be a mistake. She corrected the time (not sure what she did…probably took an average) and with that, I was jumped to second. This meant I got a silver medal.
I was shock. I don’t think I deserved it. As I hold the silver medal in my hand, all I could think about was that verse in Proverb 21…
It was later in the Gala I bumped into an Australia cyclist and he told me what happened. He felt that I should have been faster and told the judge to look over my time again. I couldn’t help but to thank him.
Besides the silver, I also won a gold for 5 km running race. Though the silver meant second place, I enjoyed it a lot more. It was a medal that I rested with the Lord. And the Lord responded.