Earlier, when I had written about ambitions being a rock solid set up for failure, there was one thought that had never crossed my mind; that I’d fail to even start the race at all. And yet, what played out over the weekend was an iconic manifestation of failure. The tale begins, perhaps ironically, at Solitude. While pre-riding the course with Rick and the Aaron’s I started to feel some serious discomfort. A broiling, sharp pain in that place where no mountain biker – indeed – nobody ever wants to feel it. Deep in the gut.
I attributed it to the Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, which incidentally tastes good initially, but has a nasty, horrible, gut wrenching after taste. Avoid. At. All. Costs. Rick chastised me for deviating from the Diet Coke, the “nectar of the gods” as he called it. It must be. For I had obviously angered the diet soda deities and was now being cursed with a sore and nefarious curse.
But the pain persisted, keeping me home on the couch Friday. I became convinced that somewhere along the way I picked up one of those nasty bugs that wreaks havoc on ones intestinal track, and then is gone as quickly as it arrived. I started to have doubts about the race, and whether or not I’d be able to attend, let alone pursue any ambitions. Which were becoming more and more absurd with every passing, nauseating hour. I awoke in the morning determined to race. I readied my gear, and was getting dressed when unexpectedly, and horrifically, I threw up. However, two days of not eating meant that there was nothing to clean up. Violent dry heaves leave little evidence.
But my weekend fate was sealed. Tom Boonen and I will now forever be linked in the annals of cycling history. I can hear the conversation between Phil and Paul right now:
“Poor Boonen is out of the Tour with digestive problems! Unbelievable.”
“And Grizzly abandoned his attempt at eternal (if local) glory on Saturday with the same issue, remarkable coincidence?”
“Either that, or a heinous conspiracy involving a high profile international racer and an anonymous Belgian champion.”
Alas, once again my lofty ambitions will have to wait. Which means that they will now have time and opportunity to fester, grow, and become so aggrandized as to become utterly unsustainable. Which means that they ought to be ripe for the picking on September 5th. And as luck would have it, there just so happens to be a long, brutal, spectacular opportunity to fantastically chase down those magnanimous and elusive, if unrealistic, ambitions on that day.
But the best news of all coming from the weekend? I dropped 4 pounds.