Thursday, March 13, 2014

Madera Stage Race And An Unforgettable Massage



I can’t be too upset with the first stage race of the year. I did the time trial on borrowed aero bars and my road bike but it wasn't my focus. I really wanted to win the crit and the road race. I had the fitness and the sprint going in, so it was just deploying a plan. Unfortunately not all race plans pan out, I took the 3rd spot in the crit sandwiched between the pros. Mistakes were made; I chose the wrong wheels and positioned poorly. Positioning is key in every aspect of road cycling along with confidence (kind of lacking in that department, but working on it.) I would say I was going for redemption in the road race but that would be an understatement. I was a one-women-wrecking-crew. I worked my but off, followed almost every move and attempted to bridge and pull back the threatening break. However there was a point in the race where worry had snuck in. The potential race-winning-break was getting quite a bit of daylight and the gap had reached well over a minute with 2 of the big teams represented (Tibco had 4 women in the race, Pinacle had 6-8.) I started to do some work on the front and tried to rally some of the other non-represented teams to work as well. No dice. No one wanted to work, there was a point in the race where a rider had told me “Let the pro leading in the GC bring it back.” At that point I knew that most of the riders were happy to watch the race unfold rather than play a roll. The leader wasn’t superwomen and if she did manage to pull the break back solo, the 2 stronger teams were lying in wait, ready to counter. I continued to work at a steady pace but not completely tapping myself. Riders appeared to be getting antsy, as soon as I slowed, attacks started to mount. I was able to follow the steady stream of attacks and counter-attacks that were bringing the overall speed way up. Before I knew it, the break’s lead was down to 30 seconds on the final loop. I had followed yet another attack and was suddenly passing the leaders of the break and splitting the field. The race turned out to be a bit of a spicy one with fire works going off into the last possible moments. The finish was up a roller of a hill and I knew it was my kind of sprint. I sprinted a little early for my taste but held my lead. I won by a large gap in “sprinting” terms. It felt good but even at the end I wasn’t confident, I kept scanning my mind for an error, like maybe a I had missed someone attack. I wasn’t confident in my win despite how obvious it was. I didn’t have the confidence to put my hands in the air! Like I said I’m working on it. Next time I’ll be throwing those mits up! You can check out the photos leading into the finish. I may not look super enthused in the photos but believe me I am! My first win of the year and hopefully not my last.

Final Sprint Photos!

Now as fun as it is writing a race report, what happened before the race is more of an interesting read. My massage. A couple days before the race, I looked up Sebastopol massage therapists. I did some research and found what seemed to be a respectable person with a lot of experience in the yellowpages and included was a link to his blog which also seemed fairly legitimate. Little did I know.
As I pulled up to the address listed, it appeared to be a run down duplex on a lot that has never seen a lawn mower or gardening tool since it was constructed. I was weary as I walked down the little path to an unmarked door with no inkling of business orientation to be seen. I discarded the horror films and murder shows that were far too prominent in my mind and knocked on the door. I mean really, everyone knew where I was, the massage person’s info was all over my computer, he would have to be a real tool to chop me up into little bits. The man greeted me with his curly receding mullet, aviator style reading glasses and diamond stud earring. Again I was weary but I entered the old never-renovated home, with 50+year old rugs and furniture and took a seat. We sat and chatted for about 15 minutes and at that point I could tell he was eccentric but harmless. I couldn’t tell how old he was but I had guessed a lot younger than he would soon make me aware.
As he pulled back the brown, previously orange, corduroy curtain he revealed his massage table and set-up. In my mind I wiped the sweat from my forehead, thinking, at least there was a legit table. The room on the surface was relatively clean but it was clear that the place had never been deep cleaned. There were cobb webs caked into the heat register and in ever corner. It was an OCD persons nightmare.
As I laid down, I looked to my left and was pleased to see he had gone out of his way to post a sheet of paper displaying the natural oils he used. No chemicals, no doubt.
We got on in conversation and I pushed to hear his life story. I felt more at ease with a steady flow of conversation. He explained how he got into massage in 1963 working in a commune in Santa Cruz. I would describe it as an art retreat. He studied art and music in Uni and his niche on the commune was in clay art and apparently at the end of the day he dabbled in massage and found he had a talent for it. Crazy friggen hippies!
He then goes on to tell me another life story. He used to ride a bike but those days ended after he was hit by a car. Now this story left me jaw-dropped. Like many accidents involving vehicles and bikes, the driver was making a left turn and didn’t see him. He described the whole thing in slow motion; he saw the wreck coming, in preparation he breaked, putting the majority of the weight on his front wheel. The car hit him from behind, spun him around one and a half times and he managed to stay up-right.  His rear wheel was destroyed but he was pretty much unscathed except for maybe his nerves. In the end being the trusting person he was, gave the driver his card and information. Of course, the driver never contacted him, but the story gets better. One night he goes to a party, in amongst the crowd he spots the driver who hit him on a couple months prior. From across the room he yells “You! You’re the one who hit me on my bike!” this statement silences the room. The driver starts apologizing saying he lost his card, yada yada yada. At that point everyone knew the driver was a dink and he ended up fixing the bike he had broken. My massage guy was so proud.  Now that’s a tale of karma if I’ve ever heard one. He went on to tell me about an organic farm he started up 30 years ago, a psychic group he joined and spoiled, a wife he had divorced 50 years ago, but ended up moving in right next door, his garden of goodies that some BC’ers would be proud of and his interests in singing and watching opera and dance. He was enjoying his life without too many superficial needs, living happily and simply. He was a true believer in quality rather than quantity.
While he was going on about his life and his accomplishments, I noticed that his hands were a bit shaky. Kind of like an old person. I couldn’t help but ask how old he was and found out that he would be 80 this year! WTF mate? Holy moly, he was an old guy! He fooled me. At that point I had to stop giving him a hard time in my head. What 80 year old wants to clean anyway?
It’s kind of crazy the people you’ll meet along the way. I could have turned back but I’m glad I didn’t. He was a crazy character with 80 years worth memories and stories and I was able to hear just a small percentage of his wild history.  

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