Riding This Week


Chainbuster MTB Racing Series - Georgia's friendliest MTB racing. 6 & 9 Hour Endurance racing for solo or teams.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011

Typically for my family the Labor Day holiday is sort of a "on the fly" holiday. We don't usually remember it's coming to be honest. I mean it's not like Christmas or Washington's Birthday. And we don't work for the government or a bank so there’s no guarantee of a bizzilion holiday’s that we can put on the calendar every year. We tend to treat Labor Day as a bonus holiday…like icing on the cake.

This year’s Labor Day was destined to be unfamiliar. First of all, September 4th, 2010 is the day my friend TJ was killed riding a bike with me on a beautiful Saturday morning. It’s a day I’ll never forget as long as I live. It’s a day that changed my life. As I write this I’m sitting in the living room of a lake house staring at the lake as the sun rises. It’s a bit overcast and gray but the rain overnight actually brightened up the leaves and freshened things up. The lake is calm and glassy. There’s no indication of the holiday boating madness that occurred yesterday.  Not a creature is stirring in the house. It was my plan to get up early to enjoy the peace and quiet while reading my new book “ROADIE; The Mis-Understood World of a Bike Racer” by Jamie Smith but my mind is too busy organizing thought to read someone else's.  A squirrel just leaped from one tree to another. It’s cool when they do that.

The Pattillo’s are here with us this weekend; Jessica, Thomas and Erin Grace.  I figured we’d be together here for this crappy anniversary and just see what happens. Maybe we laugh, maybe cry, maybe we find some new form of peace. It was my plan to let go and let God. It was uncharted territory but I was open to whatever the weekend brought. And here’s what that was:

Molly and Thomas at Paynes Creek Trail in Hartwell, GA

I got up early on Saturday morning and took Thomas Pattillo and my oldest daughter Molly mountain biking at Paynes Creek. We had a great time especially on the “whoop-de-doo’s”. They were so fun we turned around and rode them again. 

Enlarge this pic to see the whoop-de-doos.

When we returned there was a strange foreign car in the driveway. I began unloading the bikes when Molly came out and said, “Mommy wants you to come inside.”  I have my father’s gift of being able to imagine the worst that could happen in any given situation so I immediately started thinking of possible scenarios. I settled on the “Angry Neighbor” scenario. The kids had done something so destructive that the neighbors actually drove over to tell us about it. When I finally walked in I was happy to hear “SURPRISE!!” from everyone including the foreign car driving Nabors family who drove up for my surprise birthday party. It’s the big one. 
All total five families, 11 kids, 9 adults were here to celebrate my birthday. My wife organized it all and my daughters actually didn’t blow the surprise having known about it for over a week.  We spent the rest of the day water skiing, Sea Doo-ing, and watching the kids play. Happy Birthday to me!
After a day like that I was tired. Then after we grilled hamburgers and my belly was full I was D.O.N.E., done. When Idaho scored their third touchdown I called it a night because I had a race in the morning. 

The Sunbrella Labor Day Omnium Circuit Race!
I got up on Sunday and met Star Bridges and Sean Philyaw to race a 2.5 mile course in Anderson, South Carolina for the final of the Sunbrella Omnium. It was a 9:00am circuit race of 6 laps. I’d thought a lot about this race during the week before. Since I’m a time crunched racer I know better than to plan on winning, especially a downhill sprint, but this day was special and I wanted to give a great effort. Not only a great effort physically in the race but in another way too. I wanted to honor my friend. I wanted to be bold about my faith, about his faith. So I wore the BPBC kit resplendent with bible verses and angels wings. I asked Star and Sean to pray with me at the starting line. I prayed that TJ would be a part of the race. I prayed for strong legs and safety and for every racer to race well, just not as well as me.
I’m kidding about that last part. I didn’t actually say it. But I was thinking it. So the race began with about 40 racers. The course is pretty flat with two small climbs. A three man break went away early and it included Star. I wanted to be in it and shot out of the group to bridge up. Like a dummy all I ended up doing was dragging the group up to the breakaway. Then on lap three two guys attacked and a small group of 7 got away after them. This time I didn’t immediately chase. Once the gap was big enough I shot out to the side so nobody could get on my wheel and sprinted up and around the corner until I caught the break, which by then were all together.  Star was there but Sean had gotten caught in traffic and didn’t make the break. Once Star found out I was there he started working hard on the front to keep the break away. How cool is that! He’s working for me! I suddenly understood what Mark Cavendish means when he talks about winning because his team gave everything so he could. It’s very motivational when someone else is giving their best with you in mind. I started trying to conserve energy. Hard to do when we were averaging 25 MPH. As the laps went by there were attacks and counter attacks. For the last two laps I mostly stayed near Star and waited. I was very nervous. My heart rate range is lower than most people’s with my resting HR in the 120’s and my MAX in the 170’s. I spent the entire race above 160 HR. On the final lap there was an attack by two riders. Star followed with me behind. I was unaware at the time but the guy that launched that attack had pretty much started every attack all day. He was strong. He kicked then and then kicked again with less than a mile to the finish. Star couldn’t match it and began yelling at me to go get the guy. So I sprinted like a mad man, caught the guy, passed the guy, pushed it some more and then began to fade. Looking back at my Garmin recording it looks like I pedaled at 175 HR all the way through to the finish. The last lap averaged 26+ MPH. I sprinted up to the guy at 1,110 watts and held over 350 watts for a quarter mile to the finish. The group ended up catching me and we all sprinted to the finish line with Star trying to lead me out. I was blown. My sprint had occurred a half mile earlier. But boy was I happy. I had raced and gave everything. No regrets. I emptied the tank. The guy that kept attacking ended up winning the sprint. The strongest man won.  We played our best tactics and in the end Star was 6th and I was 8th. And don’t feel too sorry for Sean Philyaw because he won the second groups field sprint and ended up 13th!

Eric Grace Pattillo shows off the Labor Day Omnium shirt
When I returned to the house everyone was playing in the water and having a great time. We all had a great day of fun. TJ Pattillo was spoken of often and in laughter and thankful remembrance. As usual my apprehension of the date was unfounded. 
Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

As I sit here in this recliner, legs full of lactic acid, I’m proud of the way I spent yesterday. I’m grateful for the friends that raced with me and the friends who came to celebrate my birthday with me. I’ll never give up trying just because it hurts sometimes or I’m left alone sometimes or things don’t go the way I planned. A bike race is a lot about suffering and perseverance. But it’s also fun and satisfying if you have the right attitude.  Just like life. You only need to learn how to recognize the victories.

So for the rest of this holiday weekend I plan to relax and enjoy the life God has given me.
“I’ve got my eye on the goal where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back” - The Message. 

The kids are up now and asking for something to eat. I guess it’s time to get this Labor Day started. I hope you’re all encouraged and ready to do something positive today. It is a real holiday after all. 

Thanks for reading!