A Mexican Racing Story

The pack of close to 100 riders paraded the first two miles around the plaza in Guerro. The wave of brightly colored racing jerseys curved around the plaza. The brilliant colors of red, orange, blue and green weaved through the streets. The pack headed out of town west toward Piedras Negras.  There was an immediate attack by a group of riders off the front of the pack. The pace quickened as riders scrambled for position so as not to be dropped in the early attack. About 30 riders, myself included were able to hang on to the breakaway as a large gap developed from the rest of the pack.

All the strong teams were well represented in the pack of 30 including Gato and his Monclova team. Riding as a Maverick (no team) I just hung on to the pack as if I were a team mate. I was a marked man and I knew it.

The pack of 30 stayed together for about the next 70 kilometers as they weaved up and down the roller coaster type hills of the Chihuahuan Desert. The course led its way through several small, archaic villages. The villages were recognized by the adobe walled, straw roofed dwellings and an occasional bus stop by the highway.

There were isolated attacks or attempts to breakaway by individuals but they were always covered. Also, every now and then a member of one of the strong teams would just jump off the front baiting the rest of the pack to pick up speed and attempt to catch him. These isolated attacks would eventually have the same effect of kidney blows to an opponent in a boxing match. And through all of this I always attempted to stay within viewing distance of Gato and his team mates.

I knew that if Gato did have a weakness, it was on hills. And hills were my strong point. I had made several hill attacks but they had always been covered by Flako, Gato’s team mate. He would always anticpate my attack and be in position to block me out just enough to slow me down to allow Gato and the following pack to catch up. And of course the whole time, I was expending energy that I knew I would need later on. But I had to try.

At about the 100km point in the race there was a steep hill. I timed my attack to occur when I was the farthest from Flako so he wouldn’t be able to block me. I pushed hard up the hill. I didn’t look back. I stayed seated and let my legs spin my way up the hill. I relaxed my hands, my shoulders, my neck, and I relaxed the muscles in my face as I attempted to allow as much oxygen as possible to my lungs and legs. I fought the anoxia. I refused to give into the lactic acid build up in my legs. I kept pushing. My heart rate neared 190 beats per minute.  I was becoming anoxic. But I hung on. There was only a few yards left till the crest of the hill. I knew this was my best attack so far and I really thought I might have broken Gato. But just as I crested the hill, I looked over and Flako along with team mate Durango had pulled Gato up the hill and had covered my attack.

And then WHAM!! Gato sensed my exhaustion and made an attack of his own down the hill. He jumped to the side of my bike attempting to make sure I couldn’t catch his draft. I reached deep inside knowing that this could be the end of the race for me if I didn’t catch him. I was lucky enough to catch his draft and we flew down the steep hill.

I was right on his wheel. Gato and I were the lead riders now. We had dropped the lead pack of 30. We were approaching speeds in the upper 40′s. No one was catching us. I was blowing up. I knew I couldn’t keep this pace up long.

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