The bike race/incentive program at the gym started 5 weeks ago and after my initial misstep I got off to a good start.
The event is 21 "races" comprised of 3 rides a week for 7 weeks. The rides differ in difficult and distance with most of the expresso courses being between 4 and 9 miles long.
There are about 40 people participating in the event. Of those 30 or so are normal rational people who view exercise has a healthy release. They show up, ride the bike for 15-30 minutes at a reasonable pace and enjoy the experience. The other five people are idiots. They ride as hard as they can, sweating all over everything and everyone, grunting, and making a total spectacle of themselves. As I was leading after two weeks, I suppose that makes me the king of the idiots.
I'm the new guy, an outsider, to the gym and by the third week I started getting the impression that the "insiders" really didn't appreciate me coming in and taking the lead in their contest. At first it wasn't anything definitive, just some mumbling and sidebar conversations. Then a few comments were made a little louder and in closer proximity to me...vague references, but enough to make me take notice. By the end of week three someone had etched "ringer" on my scoresheet...no smiley face either.
I showed up for the beginning of week 4 to do my ride and one of the regulars was suddenly and unexpectedly friendly to me. " How ya doing Flick ?" Then after exchanging some idle conversation he casually mentioned, " Did you notice that someone's beating you ?"
Sure enough I went over to the score book and there on page one was a name that hadn't previously been in the book, Bob Benson. And I looked over Bob Benson's times and they were almost identical to mine, but on a couple of the long events he had gone under me by 10-15 seconds.
"No worries", I thought. I had been riding at around 315 watts and knew that I could go a little harder if I needed to. That ride I buckled down and rode 320. Thursday I came in and the Bob Benson had ridden 4 second fast. With an audience of insiders keeping watch from in the shadows I hopped on the bike, buried myself with a 325. When I came in on Saturday, Benson had gone 10 second fast again.
Now I was getting, as I'm apt to get, a little paranoid. I googled Bob Benson. Nothing. Bob Benson cycling. nothing. Bob Benson triathlon. Zilch. Bob Benson running. Nada. The guy was a ghost.
So I started wondering...maybe these bastards just made up Bob Benson, and they're just waiting for me to put in my time, then they're writing in a time just slightly fast than mine just to mess with me. Just to crack me. If that's what they were doing, I was going to be pissed...although I'd be equally impressed because if their goal was to crack me it was starting to work.
Saturday I pounded out 330 watts, almost shitting my pants in the process. When I came in on Tuesday, I'd been beaten by 40 seconds !!!
It was more than I could take. From Sunday afternoon through Thursday morning I stopped in the gym before work and after work looking for the so called Bob Benson. No matter when I went in, day or night, no such guy. When I posted my time on Tuesday ( 324 watts) his time was posted first thing Wednesday morning....5 second faster.
Which brings up to last night's ride. I showed up and most of them were there. All the sneaky, conniving, devious little bastards. All smiles and "how ya doing". Congratulating me on my improvement of the last two weeks. I KNEW what they were up to and I wasn't going to have any of it. I pretty much insinuated that I knew that Bob Benson was a ghost, just there to fuck with me, and that whoever was up to is was risking life and limb cause " the whole contest was killing me and if it came right down to it, I was taking as many other people as I could down with me !"
Even I'm not sure what they hell I was talking about, but the rant did succeed freaking everyone out enough to clearing the room.
I used my anger to good use, trying to break the 335 barrier. I made it about 4 of the 7 miles at 340 and then the wheels started coming off. The last two miles were pure hell. I was up out of the saddle, grunting and trying not to vomit and came limping across the line at a 323 watt average.
I was laying across the handlebars with my chest heaving....a defeated lump of a man....muttering and swearing about those bastards and their little game when a guy climbed on the bike next to me. " Wow, good effort !!!! 323 Watts average is huge...you must be Flick, right ?"
" Thanks...and yeah I'm Flick", I got out between gasps.
" Oh, nice to meet you. I'm Bob Benson"