The Road to the National Senior Games Part 6

Bill Cloninger, a wellness center member at South Franklin Circle, will be competing in the National Senior Games this summer in Cleveland. He is competing in the cycling 5K and 10K time trials.

When Bill joined the SFC wellness center in 2010, he could barely walk a mile without getting winded. With the help of SFC VP of Wellness Frank Ondus and his staff, Bill is 100 pounds lighter and off blood pressure medication. He follows a strength training regime developed just for him, and began cycling.  For more background on Bill and his South Franklin Circle wellness success story click here.

May 12, 2013 – Mother’s Day Morning
10K Time Trial Test on the Nationals Course at the Cleveland MetroParks Rocky River Reservation

Back in February, the National Senior Games (Senior Olympics) announced the cycling time trial courses.  The races will be held in the Rocky River Reservation, on Valley Parkway.  The start for both the 5K and the 10K will be adjacent to the South Mastick Picnic Ground (just south of Puritas Ave.)  The 5K will finish just before Cedar Point Road.  The 10K will turnaround at that point and come back, finishing at the start at the Picnic Ground.

In February, I drove the course, but had not ridden a bike on that stretch of road in the last ten years.  After driving it I talked with a few friends who ride Harley Davidson Motorcycles.  We got the idea to shoot a video of the course once leaves were on the trees, that I could use for my training.  Looking at the calendar, we decided on Mother’s Day morning, May 12.  The schedule was set!

What we didn’t figure on was cold weather.  This morning as I was driving from Chagrin to the course the temperature was 36 degrees Fahrenheit.  Frank Ondus from South Franklin Circle has told me he doesn’t ride if the temps are under 40.  What am I doing?  This may turn out to be a real disaster. The weather forecast is calling for a “slight chance of rain showers” with a high of 50.  I see some gray ominous clouds along the lakeshore.

I’m to meet the guys at 9:30am at the South Mastick Picnic Ground.  Chuck Bissler and his wife, Cheryl, will be riding right behind me filming the course and me during this test.  Mark Sovey will range ahead to spot the turnaround point, making sure I’m clear in both directions to make the U-turn.  Mark will also shoot some footage at interim points that we will edit into the final video at a later date.

I arrived early, set out some orange cones to mark the start and the turnaround and midway markers at one-mile increments.  I’m using them to try to dial in the 10K pacing.  This is my first full 10K practice after last Monday’s race.  Today, I’m attempting the same gradual ramp up plan I tried during last Monday’s race-hopefully it will work this time!

I’m starting to warm up when Chuck arrives on his Harley.  Cheryl is in their car following.  Chuck parks his bike and says, “I thought it wasn’t supposed to rain this morning!”  He was caught in a down pour on the way over and had to hide under a bridge.  Immediately he jumps into their car and doesn’t come out for 15 minutes as he warms up.  Cheryl tells me that she drove the car because she wasn’t going to ride on the back of a Harley from Mentor in this cold. Mark shows up as I finish warming up.

Cheryl was right-man is it cold!  It’s now 9:40 a.m. and not raining. I review what everyone is to do.  We are all here and there’s no backing out.  So let’s get on with it.  I start and quickly settle into my racing rhythm at the right wattage and off we go.  I’m not kidding-it is COLD!!  After about two miles, all I can think about is finishing this test and getting back to my car to warm up.  Make it to the turnaround.  Mark signals it’s clear to do the turn around, which I do just I practiced in North Carolina and start back.  At this point I’m to concentrate on keeping my wattage up.  This is not a problem as all I want to do is get this practice over.  Then I hear a THUNK on my helmet, then a few more.  It’s HAILING. Then a few large rain drops hit.  Only one mile to the finish, so I pour it on.  I want to get out of this weather and hopefully stay dry.  Can I ride between the rain drops?  (An interesting thought while traveling at 25 mph on a bike with skinny tires!).  Quickly, I roll into the parking lot and the scattered rain drops stop.  Made it!  Completed the test, got the video shot, and, incredibly, hit all my wattage numbers.  A good miserable cold day.  Now to warm up!

Read Part 7 of The Road to the National Senior Games

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