Out west in Tucson we had a SAG van trekking around the mountain roads with us to support our rides. Knowing the SAG truck is there can be quite comforting at times. It’s easy to get too hot or too cold when you guess wrong on your riding gear. Adding layers or removing them can be key to a successful ride. SAG provides nutrition too, which is critical to solid riding under any conditions.
My concern going into triathlon training camp was that I’d not be fit enough to cover the miles mapped out by our leader, Steve Brandes. However, my indoor riding paid off and I was confident and capable on every ride and climb. Even riding the twelve miles up to nearly 7000 feet on Mt. Lemmon went well. I wasn’t leading the bunch, but that’s not something I ever expected to do. I’d put in some hours on the trainer but was not sure how my legs and lungs would feel on three and four-hour rides. Plus I had a decade in age on nearly everyone there.
To my pleasant surprise, I had “good legs” the entire trip. At some places going up Mt. Lemmon I even burst into a smile. The views were incredible as we ascended and descended. Looking south from the winding road I could see urban avenues stretching far to the south of Tuscon until they disappeared in the haze.
I love peak experiences like that when you’re riding in an environment so far out of your ordinary experience the world feels completely new and fresh. As for the physical act of riding, I know my body well enough to find a groove and keep rolling.
My wife Sue was always slightly ahead, pedaling in her strong and steady fashion despite the fact she came into the camp a bit tired from two weeks of business traveling on top of her normal training schedule. She’s a tough woman however who wasn’t going to let a little tiredness stop her. Frankly, I was grateful she was a little tired because I could keep her in view on the climbs. We stopped along the way to sip and eat and share a Clif Bar kiss a few times along the way. I told her, “This is great, I’m having fun.”
Always I’m grateful when body meets mind in a joint venture like that. It doesn’t always happen. During the Madison Half Marathon two years ago I came into the event with a calf twinge that turned into an outright cramp at six miles. I was forced to drop out and asked an official to call the SAG wagon for me. Walking home four miles was not my idea of fun.
I hopped into the SAG wagon and introduced myself to the driver, who turned out to be (if I recall correctly) none other than Cindi Bannick, wife of Steve Brandes and director of Madison Multisport.
My wife had just started training under Steve’s direction that fall, so the convergence was interesting. What are the odds?
Well, the odds are actually pretty good that you’ll cross connections in these sports. It’s a small world in any respect, this universe of endurance athletes. You’re going to run into someone you know eventually. The goal is to not do that literally, lest you injure yourself.
In any case, I so welcomed that SAG van at that point in the half-marathon. My calf felt like an overdone lobster right out of the pot. There are days when an athlete simply needs to bag it and look ahead to another day.
This past year I came back to Madison and completed the half-marathon, albeit limping my way along like a lobster with only two legs. I was sagging from the waist on down due to weak hips as illustrated in the biological illustration above.
It’s funny how connections in this sport can happen even if you’re just another SAG sack trying to get home in one piece.