Optical scanner. Check. Infra-red radar. Check. Sonar detection. Clear.
All is well. Our hero is 8 miles into the bike leg of the RecPlex triathlon, and the nefarious Jim G is out of range. Given a 30 second offset, CC remained ahead during the swim and transition #1. Now, nothing but the sound of pedals and wind.
Then, out of nowhere: "hello Michael".
Zounds! The villainous arch-rival has slipped under the radar, and pulls up alongside our hero. A stealth attack! In no time, the nefarious Jim G is ahead by several bike lengths -- and pulls away.
Miles later, our hero is still stunned. He begins to draft blog titles in his head: Black Sabbath! Sunday Bloody Sunday!
However, there is hope: like last year, the dynamic duo will face a set of hills at the end of the bike. Last year, Blackbird famously transformed into an anti-Gravitron device and led our hero to victory in a head-to-head battle.
But this year, Jim G leads by 1/4 mile. It is a grim gamble. CC grits his teeth as his untrained leg muscles quiver with exertion. Blackbird moans, seemingly in need of servicing after last weekend's rainy ride.
The Counter Assault
With 3 miles to go, the triatheletic titans begin to ascend the hills. CC notices that, far ahead, Jim G stands up out of the saddle: fatigue! He re-doubles his effort, downshifting into an easier gear.
After 2 hills, our hero is much closer but still not even. By the last, winding hill, he finally pulls within mere lengths.
With a mile to go, he pulls along flush with the arch villain.
The two racers glide in simultaneously to Transition #2. The plan is to devour another carb gel and re-apply sunscreen. Mutual friends cheer and yell to both of us: "you're going to lose it in transition! C'mon!".
"You know, they're right. This could be it right here.", thinks our hero. Abandoning the battle plan, he bolts from the area with nary a drink nor replenishment. It is a desperate stratagem, but he does leave T2 before Jim.
The run is exhausting. Without proper bike training, our hero's legs are jello. The heat is 80+ F and seems unbearable. At every station, 2 cups of water are used: one to drink and one to pour over the body. Memories of Mattoon are haunting. (Ed's note: Mattoon was the ER visit in Aug 2007).
For the last half of the 4+ mile run, our hero did not run for victory: it was classic "not to lose". Though out front, he could not concentrate on his own race, but instead looked back often, in terror, awaiting the inevitable push by his rival. It could yet be a Black Sabbath.
Finally, amazingly, CC staggers to the finish line! So Jim G cannot beat him outright, but recall that our hero was given a 30 second offset. The nefarious forces could yet win a time victory!
Indifferently, the clock ticked and tocked. 10 seconds. 20. 30 seconds! Soon enough, but all too late, Jim G stumbles across the line.
CC has won by a mere 2 minutes: approximately the length of time required to ingest a carb gel and apply sunscreen.
The streak has bent, but remains unbroken.