As I looked around at the line I knew I needed a strong start so that I could hang on the train of riders through the fast single track of Big M. Go! Brings my mind back to the task at hand. I trounce hard on the pedals and drop in 4th behind Vanias, Burke and Acker. “Well we see how long I an hang on here” I think to myself as we rocket through the woods at 22mph. The four of us mostly rode together for the first lap and I was happy to hang in. Vanias and Burke would put up a small gap on the up hills and we would reel them back in on the down side. Much to my surprise on the first big hill of the second lap Matt waved me around as the other two again attacked up the hill. So much for just hanging on. I stood in response to keep their wheel but could not keep with them. I didn’t get back until the down side. The remainder of the lap we scorched through the single track together. Without much surprise Alex attacked at the beginning of the 3rd lap up the long climb. I requested more of my legs and got nothing. I stood and put in a effort I realized I could not hold. I watched as he put a gap on us both that held with him just at the edge of sight. The 4th lap was left to Tom and I as Alex pulled out of sight. I figured I would test my legs and see what I had. I stood and hammered up hill and put in a small gap. I stretched it a bit more down one of the blazing fast down hills drifting for a 4th time that sandy left hand’er. Surprised to find my legs in full working order I kept the gas on standing and hammering anywhere there was space. Up the last big hill I am greeted with the update that Alex is 20 seconds up. I continue to work hard up the hill and grab an additional gear as I crest the top. I empty the tank in chase.. I don’t have enough to bring him back. I finish in second with a gap of 10 seconds.
Well, today was the big road race benefiting skin cancer and once again I
can’t thank you all enough for your generous donations! Your gift was
more than a show of support for me, but rather a display of action to help
skin cancer education and research. Thank you!
Marnie and I race for the Founders Brewing mountain biking team and
race quite a bit ( on dirt) but understand, I’m usually a stranger to any
podiums or high placing finishes, that’s Marnies area. Despite my past
performances, my goal was to line up in the front line of the race start line
( usually designated for the “winners” ) and go as hard as I could as long
as I could for my dad and all those battling cancer.
The 80-mile track started in downtown GR and took us to the shores of
Lake Michigan 40 miles away and back. The day started out on the warm
and muggy side and by the start of the race it was steamy. As I lined up in
the front row with the sun beating down, I cursed myself for not cutting my
shaggy hair which must have added ten degrees.
We took off and kept a pace of around 24 mph as we headed toward the
lakeshore. I was in the lead group of about 20 and feeling pretty good even
considering I hadn’t been on my road bike in two months and sweat was
pouring down my brow and dropping my sunscreen into my burning eyes.
During these moments of a mental lapse of pity I would distract my mind
by thinking about my dad. The way he faced his diagnosis and surgery
with courage and a positive attitude. The mental strain he endured with an
uncertain future and recovery. I pushed on a kept the pace.
After a quick stop for hydration at the half way lake shore support area,
the lead group was back on the bikes and pushing 25 mph. We were now
heading into the beating sun and a head wind that taunted me….I kept
thinking of the song with the lyrics “welcome to the jungle” but pushed on
with the group. By mile 60 I actually had visions that I wasn’t riding
outside anymore, but on a stationary bike in a sauna. Once again I cursed
myself for not getting a haircut. I passed by sprinklers in yards and
envisioning striping and running around like a little kid to cool my core
temp. Again, my thoughts were interrupted by the vision of my dad’s scar
and the many people who weren’t as lucky as me to see their dad survive
melanoma. I pushed on. At mile 70 my legs started to cramp and I knew I
was getting close to the finish but I knew my time at 23 + mph were over. I
fell off the back of the pack and called on my body for one last surge. Dad
didn’t give up, don’t you give up I said to myself. I latched back on to the
group but at a cost. Cramping legs told my mind I wasn’t tough enough
today and the group slowly pulled away. Sorry dad!
The last 10 miles I was by myself, but not really. I spent that time digging
into my reserves and fighting the heat and headwind determined to finish
strong. Along the way I recalled many great memories spent with my dad
and what a great mentor and father he is.
Needless to say I dint win the race but finished strong and had an
experience with my dad I’ll never forget. Final – 80 miles in 3:26:00
Thanks again and love to you all. Remember to apply sunscreen!!
Happy trails, Scott TenCate
GRAND RAPDIS, MI — Ernie Stafford may not have the public stature that comes with being a mayor or president of a large company. But he’s sure made a name for himself around downtown Grand Rapids. As he rides by Rosa Parks Circle on a recent day, a man calls out, “Hey Stafford!” A few …