Friday, August 28, 2009
LiveSTRONG 09: Hell in the Hills
I think the devil will not have me damned, lest the
oil that's in me should set hell on fire...
So Kurt and set about climbing again. The back side of the Challenge contains some pretty serious hills, so to break it up a bit, I began recounting the 2001 Tour, casting my bulky self as Jan Ullrich and Kurt, who probably weighs a buck-fifty soaking wet with rocks in his pockets, as Lance Armstrong. He was probably a good 25feet ahead of me on one hill when I started yelling to him in a thick German accent.
This is what it looked like in 2001:
So I am yelling at Kurt/Lance: "Heah I come, Lance! Der Strudel is coming for you! You better get on zee pedals and dance little man...HEAH I COME!!!"
People around us were laughing their butts off, and we were having fun with it.
"Zee Strudel will not slow me down zis ye-ah! I AM STRONGER ZAN YOU!!!! I am POWAHED by Zee STRUDEL!
Kurt/Lance stepped on the pedals a bit and I went with him. "HEAH I COME, LITTLE MAN!"
Then Kurt/Lance takes a look back at me gaining on him as we approach the top of one of the climbs. I know what's coming. "And now," says Kurt/Lance, "a reenactment." And he gives me THE LOOK. Only this year, I am powered by ZEE STRUDEL! I cannot be stopped, As soon as he turns around, I drop into the big ring, jump out of the saddle and mash it, flying past him over the top. People were cheering us on.
Mark it in your books: Ullrich beats Armstrong on a mountain climb in Philadelphia. I am fairly certain it's the first and last time that will ever happen.
"Well," said Lance/Kurt as we coasted down the other side, "we probably burned half-a-pack of matches on that climb." Got that right.
Kurt and I were rising up over the hills in pretty good shape, but I knew the climb to Landis Store, a one-mile suffer-fest was coming. And, I knew the Devil would show up there again. Some things you just know. I was starting to cramp up a bit, so I pulled off before the hill and shook my leg out, rubbing the muscle out (for those of you keeping track at home, it was the Vastus Medialis). And then I started.
Kurt asked if he wanted me to have him ride with me, but I just said I was going into Fish's House of Pain for a while and I would see him at the top. No strudel this time. Just hurt, and lots of it. I was really beginning to feel the pounding from the hills and the increasing heat. The first part of the climb is steep, and my quad started cramping, but not as bad as before. I tried to get out of the saddle to stretch it out, but that just made it hurt worse, so I settled back in and pressed my thumb as deeply as I could into the muscle. This helped a bit. There were a lot for people around me and they were encouraging me, which meant a lot.
About half-way up, there stood the Devil once again. I knew he would be somewhere up here. He was taunting the other riders in the usual fashion, and the worst f what he was saying was because of where he was positioned: right on a turn. He could see the riders struggling up and he was telling them, "Landis Store is right around the corner! You only have about 50 feet to go! COME! YOU CAN DO IT!" Having been in two Challenges before, I knew exactly where I was, but I couldn't stop those poor fools from sprinting around that corner....only to see another half-mile of steep climbing. The vitriol that spewed back down to the Devil of the Hills was music to his ears: He had won.
"I know exactly how far I have to go," I said.
"You can quit anytime you want. NOBODY WILL KNOW!"
"Just take a break for a while....c'mon. What can it hurt?"
I looked him straight in the eyes and said, "Get thee behind me, Satan." And I left him behind for good, rising through my hurt to the highlight of the Challenge: Landis Store.