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The Burning Flame Part IV: Return of the Caveman

September 10, 2010

Following his sh0rtcomings of 2008, Caveman spent the fall and early winter recovering and reflecting upon his journies. It wasn’t long into the new year that his racing instincts began to thunder from within. The 12 hour race in Warda was fast approaching in early February. He had completed the race victoriously in 2007  as part of a two man effort. In 2008 he patiently sat it out in preparation for the Old Pueblo race that he would depart for in a few days. This year there was nothing holding him back. The time had come to brandish his weapons once more and set out for the hunt, solo.

As is traditional with several endurance races, the gun went off and the blood thirsty riders from near and far scrambled for rank in a running LeMan’s start. Caveman’s strategy would be similar to races past. Ease into the pace and then finish strong. He knew he couldn’t pace himself too much, though, for he only had a 1/2 day this go round to seize the win.

The pace was kept consistent and inched up steadily until about halfway through when Caveman gained the lead. By this point, the pace had become too much for Caveman to sustain. His body and  mental stamina began to degrade. With about 2 hours left, Caveman had built up some nice breathing room, but then disaster struck. An overworked IT band had rubbed his knee for several hours; the pain was to the point that the leg all but froze up, refusing to pedal any longer. He was forced to stop and try to massage it out. With some quick body work in the pit, Caveman managed to get back on the trail on carry on through agonizing pain. With the lap times he was cranking out, he had 2 laps left to secure the victory. Pain succumbed to iron will. Caveman hooked on to a wave of adrenaline and cortisol to finish the final two laps in the cover of darkness and hang on for the win.

It wasn’t a 24 hour victory, but none the less, the price of victory was still steep; the reward just as great. At the awards ceremony, Caveman graciously accepted his trophy in one hand, while smacking a raw t-bone steak that had come from the very ranch the race was held at. It was a definitive moment in the warrior’s young career. He had proven that his ancient Caveman training tactics could prevail in a world obsessed with increased athletic performance through technology. More importantly, he had proven he was still a top notch endurance racer and that he was ready to get back in the game.

The defeats in Tuscon and Moab loomed deep in Caveman’s heart. He sought vengeance and a return to those mighty courses to prove he had the mettle to perform well. Finances, wisdom, and patience would keep Caveman in Texas for the rest of 2009. He spent the summer focusing on Xterra’s, a type of battle altogether new to him, incorporating both a swim and run part into the race. While the events were somewhat foreign, a true neanderthal adapts quickly, or dies. He was able to survive the swims, crush it on the bikes, and do well on the runs. He finished the Xterra season 2nd place in the regional age group standings, another indication he was getting stronger and better prepared for the next big thing.

Making the trip back to Rocky Hill in that same little pickup truck on a very similar morning to the one in 2007 awakened feelings of nostalgia for Caveman. It had been a long hard journey for him to get back to this point, just to compete in yet another long journey. While Caveman was away in Moab in 2008, a newcomer had come along and won this race on a singlespeed. Caveman had no idea if this respectable warrior would return to defend his title, but Caveman figured if he did, there would only be one proper way to duel such a gentleman: on a rigid singlespeed. He knew it would be a tough and agonizing struggle to the end, but having endured the likes of Tuscon, Moab, and Breckenridge, he was up for it.

The plan this time would not follow traditions of the past. he would not walk the LeMan’s start, but run it. He would not start slow, but fast. He would not stop for breaks. He had learned how to eat, drink, and answer the call of nature while on the bike.  Every second counted. Caveman knew what it would take, he knew he could do it, now all he had to do was do it.

A slew of small mechanical problems were putting kinks in Caveman’s plan, but just like a steam locomotive keeps on chugging, so did the tireless warrior. He stayed in hot pursuit of the leader until catching him at the end of lap 11 in the early hours of the night. Perhaps sensing the closeness of his pursuer, the leader had battled valiantly to hold the lead, perhaps a little too valiantly. As Caveman caught sight of his prey in the feed zone, opportunity knocked and he sped off into the cool night for the next lap. The former leader didn’t go back out for another 4 hours, forfeiting the chance to stay in the fight with Caveman.

From here, Caveman just had to stay consistent and avoid trouble, which, minus a few more nagging mechanical problems, he was able to do. The rigid single speed had been pretty rough, but Caveman had prepared well for this beating. Caveman completed his 18th lap in 23 1/2 hours, 1 hour ahead of the nearest competitor. He had bested his lap count by 1 from two years previous. He had done it in less time. He did it with  a technologically inferior machine. He did it eating mostly fruit and Caveman energy bars. No gu’s, no gels, no processed food of any kind. It was was a race that harked of old times; a race that spoke to the power of getting back to the basics.

Caveman’s return was now complete.

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