Every state has the senior games which are held through the National Senior Games Association. You have to be 50 years old to compete. The top two places qualify to compete in the National Senior World Games held every other year. The next National games will be held in August, 2009 in the San Francisco Bay area.
Almost 10,000 athletes registered from 20 different countries to compete in this years Huntsman Senior World Games in 25 different events.
My first event was the Hill Climb. I met with my friends Mike Lukich and Cathy McNamara who are both past World Champions the day before to try out the course. The course was deceiving. The first mile was pretty easy. If you weren’t careful you would go too hard. The second mile got steep and the third mile got really steep. Almost 12%! It was important to save something for the last mile. I did it in 14:47. Last years winning time was 14:22 so I had to do something special. The following day was beautiful. I warmed up for an hour and did three, one minute intervals to open the legs. I went as hard as I could and won my first gold medal with a time of 14:31. I only beat the guy in second by 13 seconds! Everything I did to prepare was important. The weight loss, altitude training, etc, all made a difference. It had come down to seconds.
Went to the opening ceremonies at Dixie Stadium. Thousands of people. It was really neat. The entertainment wasn’t very good, but it was exciting to be a part of it.
This was a 40 kilometer course. Not my favorite distance. I prefer the 20k. There wasn’t any flat ground at all. You were either going up or down. The road surface wasn’t great and it was windy. I won my second gold by only 31 seconds with a 57:58 time. Again, 31 seconds isn’t much over that distance. The disc wheel, my position, the sow-up tires and everything else I did made a difference. My average heart rate for the 57:58 seconds was 96% of my Max heart rate. Can’t do too much better than that.
We raced 30 minutes basically around a city block. However, it was more of a triangle. Kind of hard to explain. You go round and round for thirty minutes. During the race they ring a bell and give away prizes. These are called prime laps. I won the first prime. On the second prime I attacked after the first corner and got a great gap. The volunteer marking turn three assumed I knew where the turn was and didn’t wave the flag so I went straight off the course! I get to the next corner and it seemed unfamiliar. I looked to the right and saw the pack about a block away! It took me two laps to time trial as hard as I could to catch back on. Needless to say, I didn’t win that prime. With the bell lap to go, one guy went too early, but we caught him coming around the last corner. I hit the afterburners and out-sprinted everyone to win my third gold medal!
This proved to be a close race. The course was a 36-mile loop. After studying the map and asking Mike, Cathy and some other racers, I was told the place to attack was at a hill called “the wall.” They said I would know it when I got there. They were right. I attacked hard at the hill and got away from everyone. My heart rate went the highest it had gotten al week. 176 bpm. There was still 18 miles to go so I put the hammer down and motored as fast as I could. Unfortunately, within 4-5 miles, four guys caught me. Yikes! About 5 miles before the finish line the course went down the Hill Climb course we had done three days before. I don’t particularly like descending that fast with a bunch of people so I hammered to the corner of the downhill to descend alone. One guy stuck with me so we descended together. There were some speed bumps which we “bunny-hopped” and on the last mile where the hill flattened out a little the guy made a deal with me “ let’s work together to stay away and you can win.” I had beaten him the day before in the criterium so it was a good for both of us. I said “right on,” and off we went. At the bottom we made the right hand turn towards the finish line, but with about a half mile to go they caught us again. Shit!!!! Now it was down to a sprint between the five of us. Here’s where you need nerves of steel. Someone went and got a pretty good gap, but I felt the gap needed to be closed by someone else. We were still a little too far away. Just like I thought, another jumped to close the gap, but I could tell he was in too big of gear and I knew he would blow up. I jumped on his wheel and in the last 50 meters flew by him to win my fourth gold medal by a few bike lengths! He wasn’t too happy. Since I won all four events, it made me the overall winner in cycling for my division. Not bad for my first Senior World Games.
I went to the course to practice but forgot my cleats and it was cold and raining. I did the hill climb and the downhill course anyway with my dog. It was his first mountain bike ride so I think he enjoyed it more than I did. Gnarly course. Went back the next day when the weather was much nicer and rode the cross country course twice, the hill climb and the down hill Loose dirt, boulders, red rock, loose gravel, single track and some steep steps as well. I’m glad I practiced the course. The hill climb course actually starts downhill for a bit before it goes up hill and the down hill course has three sections where you must pedal uphill.
Woke up to a very, very windy, cold day. Unfortunately, I had no clue on how to set up my bike. I think I had too much air pressure and my tires were worn down because I crashed hard on the downhill section of the course. I actually launched from my bike. Landed and rolled, got a mouth full of dirt, got up and went back and got back on my bike. I lost the gold by only .14 seconds. Crap! I would have won if I hadn’t crashed. Got a deep cut above the medial side of my ankle. The paramedic cleaned it for me, but it really swollen and hurts. I got the silver medal though.
The wind was like a cold knife at the top of the course. After the hill climb we had to wait for a while. I changed into my full length leathers from my motorcycle days for the descent. It was probably a mistake because leathers are not made to pedal in. I lowered my seat all the way and went for it. Had to come off the bike twice on the way down. I was restricted by the leathers to pedal and jump. On the last little climb, my back tire spun out and I had to get off the bike to run up the hill again! In retrospect, I shouldn’t have worn the leathers. After all that, I still ended up with a bronzer, losing by only .54 seconds.
By now my leg was really swollen. I took Advil every four hours, iced, compressed and elevated it. I needed to be better by the next day. As long as I placed in the top three in the cross country race I could possibly win the overall, which would make me the overall winner in both the road and the mountain biking
The swelling in my left leg had gone down considerably so I wrapped it with ice. I was really motivated to win today. I got the lead right away but washed out in a corner a few times and the #1 guy passed me. He was a better technical rider. Although I kept putting my foot down and had to come off the bike a few times, I was able to keep him in my sights. There were two long flat sections at the end of the course I felt I could catch him for the finish. Fate intervened and I flatted at the beginning of the last lap. I had bought new tires the day before so I had problems getting the tire off and on. I broke my tire iron trying to get the tire back on which meant I had to take the tire off again to find the piece of plastic. AARGH! By then my adrenaline was down a little and the leg started to hurt. I finished anyway and since I had been so far ahead I got the bronze.
4 Gold in Road Racing and overall winner in my division
1 Silver in Mountain Biking
2 Bronze in Mountain Biking