Monday, August 8, 2011

Do you believe in Magic? (Part III – The Bike)

The swim is over, but the day is just starting. Jogging quickly among the rooting fans, I let a celebration smile appear in my face while I keep moving towards the transition area.

A thousand thoughts are flooding my mind at this moment.

Come back to the present!

T1: Swim-to-bike transition
After entering the transition area, I start following the routine I had visualized in my mind many times. The change from swimming to cycling was going to be easy, perfect and, best of all…FAST!

Well, at least that was my visualization.
Reality ends up being completely different, ha!

The place is so crowded that I have to “wait in line” to get my bike transition bag. The changing tent is also full. My wetsuit gets stuck in my calves and brutal force is not working. Slowly and gently, I roll the neoprene down my calves and finally liberate myself from the wetsuit. SLOWLY!

Relax, breathe, but keep moving!
Keep moving!

The rest of the routine goes much better. I get dressed rapidly, including arm warmers and cycling vest to protect me from the cool air of the morning. Race number, helmet, sunglasses, socks and shoes, I put them on without major problems. The wetsuit, swim cap and goggles get in the bag without resistance either. Done!

I finally throw the bag through the air to one of the volunteers, almost hitting another athlete (sorry dude!).


Where’s my bike? Where the heck is it?
Keep moving! Keep moving!
There it is! There’s my baby!

Oh yes!
This is it! Time to fly!
Time to do My Magic!

The bike
I leave the transition area with a big smile on my face. Cycling is my strength, and I know that the two-loop course of 180 km total, full of rolling hills and just four hard climbs is ideally suited for me.

The scenery is beautiful and the temperature is cool.
My energy is still intact, and I am ready to attack.
This is going to be so much fun!

As soon as I get on the bike, I start passing on other riders. The effort seems fine, but I keep surpassing lots of people.

To the right!
You are too slow to be in front of me!
Move! Get out of my way!

I am flying!

But…Am I going too fast?
Will I blow up if I keep going like this?

Come on!
Attack that little hill!

I keep switching from caution to overconfidence, while I keep surpassing people. Big, skinny, young, fat, tall, short, old, everything…I see all kinds of athletes while I am surpassing them. I try to see a correlation between their body types and age to the speed they are going, but it seems like there is no one. It seems like everyone can do the Ironman.

Hold on a second! I get it!
It is not the body type or age that is common to them.
It is their Eyes! The Determination in their Eyes!
All these guys and girls have Fire in their Eyes.
They are so Full of Energy. They are so Alive!

With this realization in mind, I suddenly silence my continuous mental debate and neutralize my conflicting emotions. The noise disappears, and I stop thinking completely.

A subtle smile grows again inside me, and my instinct takes full control of my pacing. My legs keep moving, but only as they want to. No rules. No thoughts. I become pure movement!

Magic again!

The kilometers pass by fast. Almost too fast for me, since I am enjoying the ride so much that I do not want it to end.

Eat, drink, eat, drink!
Go up that hill!
Eat, drink, eat, drink!
Attack that super fast descent!
Smile at the rooting fans on the street!
Drink, eat, drink!
Enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains!

I reach the hard and long climb at km 65, which I approach easily and slowly. Many people are surpassing me at this point, but I keep letting my instinct (and not my ego) determine my riding speed. At the top of the climb, I see a scenery that resembles what I see each year on TV during the hardest mountain stages of the Tour de France:  fans coming closer to the riders to cheer them on and leaving only a narrow space for each rider to pass.

Excitement invades me, and I get an extra supply of energy to reach the top. Cool!

But the excitement changes in a second, as one rider coming from the back loses his balance while reaching for a water bottle.

What the f…!

He crashes into me and we both go down heavily to the floor.


I bounce back immediately to my feet. Survival instincts take control and my veins are flooded with adrenaline in a second. The “Tour de France fans” are suddenly silenced by my fast and loud heart beats.

Is my race over?
Can’t be!
Please! It can’t finish here!
Not like this!

Look at the bike!
Is it broken? Twisted? Doesn’t seem so!
How is the chain? Still on!
Put the bike up and turn the chain ring! Seems to work!

I am relieved!
Hold on! What about yourself?
Oh no! There is blood coming down the leg from your left knee!
Left wrist hurts too!

Is it bad?
There is only one way to know.
Jump on and ride!

You’ll soon know if your race is over or not!

Luckily, I discover that I am in a bit of pain, but nothing serious has happened. The knee hurts, but the adrenaline rush helps. As soon as I realize that I can keep going, I calm down, the noise in my head disappears, and I get back into my world of Magic.

From them on, it is pure excitement. Surrounding mountain views, music, fans, rolling hills and fast descents make for an amazing ride. I am so full of this free energy, that I finish the first loop of 90 km feeling great.

I see and hear my parents and friends calling my name after the turn, and I respond lifting my arm and pointing my index finger to the sky to show them that I am feeling like a champ, like a “number one” (although I was way behind the real champ, but who cares, right?). Funny how the very act of showing my confidence gives me even greater energy: I surge again to surpass a group of riders in front of me.

At this point of the race, my instinct is the only pilot, my body is pure movement and my emotions are the raw energy propelling it.

Total ecstasy!

Time flies and kilometers keep getting shorter and shorter. In the last 30 km, I find my Austrian friend Paul, who is waiting to ride with me and take a few pictures in the last part of the ride. How lucky am I to have friends like this, huh?

Finally, I reach the last street of the bike course. As soon as I see the transition area at the end of the road, my mind takes the pilot seat again.

Time to wake up!
Time to start thinking about the marathon run ahead!

My watch shows that five hours and eleven minutes have passed, but to me they were just minutes. A big celebration smile grows within me again, as I reach the transition area. I am living a dream!

This is Real Magic!

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