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Monday, December 25, 2006

Phil Cycling :Powerbar Tour of Paranaque by Joel Gironella

Powerbar Tour of Paranaque
by Joel Gironella

To all those who raced POWERBAR TTT, congratulations! Just like the kids who all received medals for participating in the POWERBAR KIDS RACE, all the POWERBAR TTT riders are all WINNERS as well. Its not always about the competition..but its also about having fun and giving your best and i'm sure all of you put in a very good effort. Kudos to all. Well here is how it went for me...

My preparation for this TTT (and most especially for the upcoming Tour of Egat race in Thailand) experienced a serious fallback when i developed a sore throat last sunday. I got a virus which i probably caught from my son who had cough a few days before. I tried to fight it out with all these herbal medicines and over the counter drugs but unfortunately the sore throat developed into an upper respiratory tract infection. Come race day, i still had some serious mucous lodged in my lungs and i was worried that putting in a huge effort in the TTT might make my URTI worse than it is now. Since i have committed myself to my team, i decided to RACE come hell or high water. My pre race preparations went well. I brought my trainer, did a few spins then tried out the course 2 or 3 times. My legs actually felt quite okay...the only problem i had was my congestion.

I had to cough a few times to loosen up my chest and throat. We were the 1st team to be set off and by 7:20am, we were lined up in the starting line tent where the honorable mayor of Paranaque, Mayor Florencio Bernabe, did perhaps the fastest 10,9,8,...1 countdown i have ever heard in my life....All i heard was a 10...then all of a sudden it was already 2..1. Had i known it would have been the TURBO 10 to 1 countdown, i would have clipped my pedals even before he started the count. Anyway, caught by surprise, i had to immediately clip and start our train since i was the designated first man out. My teams agreement was to start steady with no immediate accelerations. I set off the pace at a good 42kph and after 500 meters, 2nd man Maiqui Dayrit took over. I can tell my team was really PUMPED up because there was a lot of cursing and shouting in the formation :-)

You can compare the adrenaline my boys were feeling to an ENGLISH PREMIERE LEAGUE SOCCER game. The shouting was not to show any disprespect to any rider but was a way to bring out the pent up meant that this ride is all BUSINESS. Every lap Robin Valdes would shout out the average speed to give us a gauge of how we were doing. The team was so fluid and our plan was working really well. It was agreed that no rider should bring down the speed during his pull. If you think you will blow, either you take a shorter pull or you pull as long as you can and sacrifice yourself for one more time..but don't bring down the speed. Well thats just what my trusted teammates Emilio Vicenz and Maxi Abad did. They took some really good pulls and gave it all they've got. At the halfway mark, we averaged 42kph with 7 riders still intact. By the beginning of the 6th round, i starting going redline. My legs were still okay but my breathing was noticably shorter and deeper. My pulls started getting shorter and shorter.

During the 2nd part of the 6th lap, another teammate of mine, Maiqui Dayrit, performed a selfless act by sacrificing himself. He was about to peel off from his pull at 46kph when RUNE shouted at him...SACRIFICE YOURSELF MAIQUIIIIII.....hearing that, Maiqui painfully went back to the right and dug in for another 30 seconds at a blistering 47kph speed. He finally peeled off, utterly exhausted and soft pedaled around the course in the last 2 rounds all by his lonesome self...ANOTHER JOB WELL DONE. We enter the 7th lap and i started to recover a bit and was able to take better pulls. At this point we were still 6 riders with 5 to finish. It was a far cry from our TTT in the same course last year wherein we were down to just 4 riders with just 2 rounds into the race with 4 guys to finish. Had any of us experience a mechanical trouble during that race, it would have been game over even before we could complete the halfway mark.

We learned from our mistakes last year and vowed not to experience the same close call situations again. By the 7th lap, our strategy of a negative split was being realized. We were now averaging 43kph. Our time splits would show that we were going faster after every lap. We start the 8th and final round still pumped up. I shout from the back...LAST ROUND!!!! GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT!!!!. Soon enough Eric (who'm with Leian was definitely the ENGINE of this run and were taking the longest pulls) jumped it up 1-2kph higher than the current speed. I struggle to keep contact and had to dig deep to keep contact with Jon Urrutia who was my front man. Jon was feeling good too and was taking really good pulls during our run. I knew that the last round will definitely hurt. Its either you block out the sensation or you keep it as long as you can for your team. There were no more strategies in the last round...its either you hang on or you get dropped.

Its an all or nothing situation. With 6 guys and 5 to finish, we could afford to loose 1 more rider. I honestly thought i was the one who will go but for some reason i got a 2nd wind. At the last turnabout, we spot the dreaded AUTOTREND team who were in the 1st round of their run. They were within striking distance. Eric shouted encouragements to the team so loud that even if he was the 1st guy in the train and i was the last guy, i could still hear him. We were closing in...100 meters...75 meters...50 meters...25 meters...CONTACT. We pass them at 46kph and i decide to sacrifice myself. From the extreme back i went to the front and i tell Eric...I'LL TAKE THIS..LETS GO!! I bring up the speed a bit more no longer shielded by my teammates and do one last pull. Robin Valdes, who has been riding extremely well trying to peak for next weeks EGAT race with me, passes me at 48kph!!! followed closely by Leian. Robin doesnt seem to be loosing speed and was probably going 50kph in the last kilo. More guys pass me.. Eric.... then Jon.

I was about to coast and call it a day when i look back and realize that I AM THE 5TH GUY! Rune apparently started cramping after the bridge and decided to slow down after giving it all for 39 grueling kilometers. S*&T!!! i now have to continue my run!! I Dug deep, really deep and finish a few meters behind Jon totally spent. I proceed to the neutral area with a painful grimace in my face...dried up saliva hanging on the side of my chin (its totally unattractive looking at riders who have just finished a time trial...PRO or AMATEUR :-) I continously cough for close to a minute and i though i was going to puke. That was a VERY HARD EFFORT. That moment reminded me of ROLF ALDAG in the docu movie HELL ON WHEELS wherein he was coughing so hard after finishing his ITT. We give each other the congratulatory handshake and high fives (we would probably hug had we been europeans...hahaha) for a job well done. Our winning avg. speed? 43.3kph! It was an unbelievable run and i would really like to thank my unbelievable team. Each man had a job to do and they all did it well.

Thanks again to Raul Cuevas of POWERBAR for a great race! This is probably why a POWERBAR RACE is the most attended local cycling race so far. Everyone apprciates the professionalism of the organziational team behind it. Thanks also to Ricky Led for being a great Race Director and for George Carag for a job well done in the course.

I won't be doing the Crit this morning as i have decided to rest and recupperate and be at least half healthy for Thailand next week. I hope everyone had a great time and i'm so looking forward to seeing most of you in the next POWERBAR RACE.

Joel Gironella
Team Union Fenosa

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