Transplant Athlete
Monday, July 18, 2005
  4th Place is the first loser

I had expected Niagara Falls to be populated with seedy hotels and a low brow knick knack stores, a veritable tourist trap. I guess some of that is based on a cheesy image of the area from one of the Chris Reeves Superman movies and the rest is based on what I’ve been told about the area. Growing up, it seemed to have bad connotations as the poor man’s honeymoon of choice, whether that was reality or adolescent assumption, I don’t know.

The reality is much different. I’m sitting in the Brock Plaza hotel on the Canadian side overlooking the falls. The view is spectacular, the room is amazing, and the walkway along the Canadian side of the river is a pleasant path unencumbered with stands and stores hawking plastic replicas and souvenir snow globes. Its actually a place I would consider vacationing. Its not DisneyWorld, but it'll do. To be fair, as you move further out from our hotel, there area few haunted mansions, and at least one amusement park.

I competed in the 5 Km TT today and came in 4th place. All the results were mish-mashed together, so I know my time was 8:47 and I came in 4th out of 18 riders, but not much else. If history is any guide, I lost bronze and silver by seconds. I know where I lost those seconds. I was finishing my first lap and a guy who started as I was passing, blew himself up trying to catch me and succeeded in doing so, right at the corner at the top of a small rise. I let him push me outside my line. He then nearly put me into the grass as he kept going outside. Instead of tucking on the downhill and gaining massive amounts of speed, I was swerving back to the left to avoid him, he then cut back to the left at the bottom of the hill to hit the apex of the turn forcing me back out to the right. He then slowed down either because he was tired or he didn't know how to get around my 30 second man. Yes, you heard right, they sent us out in 30 second intervals. I blew past both of them. I figure I lost a couple of seconds in this whole exchange. The two riders ahead of my 30 second man had backed out and so I had nobody in front of me to chase. I jammed up the big hill in the big ring and shifted into the small ring for the easy grade after that. I kept my cadence really high and as I passed the Start Line I was starting to feel the lungs screeching for more air. I had 2 tenths of a kilometer to get to the finish line on a gradual uphill. I pushed for all I was worth, holding nothing back. My brain shut off and I just kept increasing my cadence. I sprinted out for the finish line to stop the clock and came to a stop about a 100 feet down the road at the first bend. I thought I would pass out, I thought I would throw up, and the legs were awash in lactic acid.

Tomorrow is the 20Km Road Race, the results haven't been posted yet, so I will get to the event early tomorrow to see who I have to mark in the race. Some people say 2nd place is the first loser, but I think 4th is the first loser in my book.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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