This was simple. We were at the second Telo of the year and it was a pretty tough crowd. The rider to beat is always the same: Evens Stievenart. Two-time winner of the 24 Hours of LeMans Bike Race and unofficial 24-hour world record holder, Evens typically shows up for Telo after having already put in four or five hours.
My goal has always been to beat him, as ridiculous as that is.
Today as the race started he said, “Let’s attack early.” I didn’t know what he meant by “let’s.”
Three minutes in, he attacked, and we got away as I was stuck to his wheel. Eric Anderson, Josh Alverson, and Aaron Wimberly brought us back after a few minutes. Evens drifted to the back and attacked again. The Methods to Winning riders brought us back. The third time we were brought back but you could tell people were suffering to do it. The fourth time there were a number of crazy hard efforts from the field to bridge, but we went clear for good.
I sat on Evens’s wheel for fifty minutes. I never looked at my watch because I knew that if I did I would quit. I have never hurt so bad for so long in my life doing anything, ever. I played every mental trick in the book to keep from giving up. And I found myself taking lines through the turns that I’d never taken before, so crucial was every inch of proximity to his rear wheel.
At any given point Evens could have easily dusted me off, but didn’t.
Over the one-mile course, each lap I pulled for exactly fifteen pedal strokes, coming out of the last turn and getting us back up to speed on the tailwind section. Evens battered for the remainder of every single lap, especially into the 20-mph headwind section that is a little under half a mile long.
With one lap to go Evens was still sitting on the front. I rolled up next to him. “Don’t you dare give this to me,” I said.
“Don’t worry,” he answered with a smile. “I won’t.” Evens is unique because he has a massive time trial engine as well as a crazy fast sprint.
He led into the last corner and opened up his 1,000-watt finish after an hour of full gas time trialing. I stayed on his wheel until he reached max velocity, itself a lifetime achievement, then came around. I pulled even with his front wheel, still fifty meters from the line. He stomped twice and put five bike lengths between us, easily. Eric Anderson mopped up the field sprint for third.
After we finished I thanked him for letting me sit on.
“No problem,” he said. “I would have never let you win, though, because I know how badly you want it, and if you ever beat me you will never come back.”
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