Thursday, April 23, 2009

First Timer - Version 1

I have a couple of stories about riders doing their first. In this case, it's a first road race. But let me give you my Tuesday night race report: Damn.

Should I elaborate? How about, damn this gut and aging legs of mine.

Elaborate more? Sure. Big T is a bike mechanic at Two Wheel Transit and he took care of a minor issue on my bike Monday. I arrived late at the race site on Tuesday, but fully functioning thanks to Big T, and we chatted as we rolled from staging through the neutral zone. This is when he told me that it was his first road race.

We rolled out from the neutral zone and the speed increased from 16 mph to 16.2 mph. I had arrived late and had no warm-up at all, so 16 mph in a group was easy, but I was concerned that we would roll along this way for 4-5 miles and then the hammer would come down quick and hard, at which point I would blow chunks and then blow up, or maybe those things in reverse order. I decided to roll to the front and increase the speed so that we were at least "working". Instead, I found that the group mostly wanted to stay at their rolling stroll, so I ended up off the front with two other aging soldiers. We hung out there for a bit and then the group caught us and, in a good race tactic, a group took off immediately. It turns out it was three guys from Rocket Velo. After the three worked together their lead would go up or down, but they were in sight of us. One of the three got tired (and it was windy, windy, windy out there) and so two kept at it. They kept at it from about mile 3 until mile 23 of a 25 mile race. The two were Pat, who joined us for the inaugural TTW Shop Ride, and Big T, doing his first road race. Their teammates effectively blocked at times and no other team was willing to put 3-5 guys up front and do the 3-5 minutes of sustained work to pull them back.

I kept thinking they would get tired and we would sweep them up, but they doggedly kept at it through the section directly into the wind, up some rolling hills and then down a long descent. (Side note, this downhill is when a Vertical Earth rider tried to take about 37 of the 45 of us out of contention by thinking he should use some extra downhill momentum to cut through a gap half his size. Since we all have to go to work the next day, thankfully his poor decision didn't result in anything serious.) As the course headed back into town, Pat and Big T were finally caught with 3-4 miles to go. Usually at this point those two would sigh deeply, feel disappointment at getting caught and feel relief at not trying to hold off the group. This is then usually followed by letting the pack roll through and hanging on to the end. Instead, both of them stuck near the front and, to my amazement, Big T pulled us not only for the last three or so miles, but then also was right there for the wind-up on the sprint. He was nipped at the line by rider who had been the subject of a prior post and ended up third. Pretty damn impressive for a first road race.

Now I can get on with hoping he will move up to the B pack, from the C pack, while I continue to look for the magic in my legs. The good news for me, and this will only make sense to regular readers, I felt much better than my Sunday ride, but the bad news for me was that I felt markedly worse than my Saturday ride. I was in a great position 1 kilometer out and in a good position 500 meters out, but then the big motors started winding up, I just didn't have the punch to keep up. Know that only the first five positions get more than the obligatory "showing up" point, I quietly faded and stayed out of the way, not feeling up to fighting for a top ten instead of a top twenty.

The good news? There is another race next Tuesday, and the Tuesday after that, and the Tuesday after that. Just like the optimistic kid said when presented with a room full of horse shit, "With all this crap, there must be a pony in there somewhere!", I'll keep searching for my Tuesday night pony.

Congratulations Big T - Nice ride!


  1. All I know is, they told me to chase the Mercedes with the flashing 4-ways and the sign on top. ;)

    But seriously, I was mystified that none of the other teams were interested in bridging up and powering a couple of their own guys into the top six. When we'd turned onto the home stretch and were still dangling, my teammate and I decided to throttle back, recover, and get ready for Plan B.

    It was actually Tim W. out there with me after Stu came back to the pack to regulate their pace. This was Tim's first race too, so we both got a crash course in running a two-man break in front of a steamroller.

    Speaking of steamrollers, Rider 3, I've heard some complimentary remarks about your abilities on the flats and in the wind. Keep at it! Oh, and yes, I am moving to the B pack to help out my SRV comrades.

  2. I would also like to comment the Big T rode to the race, competed in the race, and then rode home with the lights on. Keep up the good work and good to see you out there competing.