That’s what this one was like for me. Completely over the top, eye-opening, ass-kicking, grueling, humiliating, and enraging. This season’s been a good one for me. My first race was cat 4 and I’ve somehow ended up in the primetime race. The best part about it – I’ll be right here for a long, long time now because the guys in the front of this race are WAY beyond anything I can comprehend regarding physical ability and bike handling. Bring it.
Starting right now, I’m racing in all green. We should consider TBA as our farm team, an incubator for future goats.
Today was stressful from the beginning. I had a rough morning, then drove out alone and we didn’t really have the tent located and set up yet. I located John and we joked about being rained on and ‘warming up’ by standing around in the rain. Both of us were stoked though that we were essentially in the same race. We had someone to holler at while on course and someone to try and pass! I livened up a bit and registered, feeling all happy about my first race as a 2. This was getting exciting now.
There were only 18 of us today, which surprised me a bit. I thought there would be more. It didn’t matter too much though, because there were still guys I was evenly matched with and a few to chase. The gun went off and the pace didn’t surprise me, however. Logan and Steve (the little leprechaun) were twitching on the front line seconds before we started, like they were about to detonate at any moment.
And that they did. The field was stretched out instantly with those two freaks of nature out front and everyone else frantically scrambling to keep up. The rain started kicking up and the wind howled in our faces, making shift cables whistle and mud fly directly sideways when airborne. My starting laps weren’t too hard, which is what I planned, but I wasn’t being aggressive to pass slower people in front of me. That was my first mistake because it allowed the chase group to get a small gap on me. Essentially, I was being crapped out the back of this race from very early on.
My second mistake was not wearing eye protection. Mud became semi-permanently lodged in my left eyelid and prevented me from seeing on one side. This was the beginning of the breakdown for me, as things which were once simple now became terribly hard and – in my case – humiliating. I overshot a couple corners. Then I racked my nuts on the top tube twice trying to hop on. And that was in front of tons of people. How embarrassing. I tired to think of funny things to get my mind off the situation. Nick Koops (from fischer plumbing) was there and he was doing a pretty good job of riling me up, screaming in my face with all sorts of obscenities and taunts right by the barriers. I kinda liked it. Nick’s a good guy and I thought it helped me a bit when things were going pear-shaped. Thanks, you friggin’ bastard!
I heard the bell ringing as I approached off the sand and onto the pavement. Then I looked down and realized I had a flat rear tire. Off the bike, start running…and as I crossed in front of the announcers they remark, “one more lap for you, Prefontaine.” Of course, that made me happy because I really admire Steve Prefontaine as a runner. Anyhow, the run wasn’t too far to the pits, but it took a little bit to get a neutral wheel due to some confusion by the pit volunteers. As I frantically slapped the new wheel on, my chasers caught and passed me. Urakawa was in the race behind me and passed by just as I was bolting out the pits. I used him as a target, eventually passing him and finishing at least a little closer to the 11 people in front of me today. 12th place. Not bad, considering I flatted and couldn’t see out one eye for most of the race.
So I started heading back to my car and Connell intercepts me. I started shooting the shit and he jumped right to the chase. He’d forgotten his bibs. Not his jersey. Not his helmet or his gloves. His bibs. And guess who just got done racing and had a pair? You got it. Here’s a picture of Connell using a nearby puddle to give my (warmed-up, shall I say?) bibs a quick rinse.
Now that is some dedicated teamwork right there!