Tuesday, September 12, 2006


NORBA Root 66 Landmine Classic Report

This is always a great race, it’s close to home, and for once it wasn’t scheduled for the middle of July so the promoter wouldn’t be forced to shorten the course at the last minute to avoid having people die of heat stroke. At thirty miles in length I figured this would be a good set up for the Vermont 50, although it has about eight feet of climbing not 8,000 like the fifty…not your best single speed course, hence the decision to race against similarly handicapped folks in the Expert Single Speed class. There were about five of us, and I have to say of everyone at the line I was most worried about my honorary teammate Mike Ramponi who, having awoken to a flat tire on his van had ridden for an hour and a half from Quincy to the race on his fresh-out-the-box I.F. single speed. They lined us up behind the Expert 20-29 boys and asked if we’d like to go with them…sure, why not. As the countdown began I hopped into a track stand so I could go off from the gun like a BMXer, it worked great, as I tacked onto the geared young guns from the line, letting then drag me to down the mile of fire road to the woods where I was able to quickly pass all but one dude, who I wouldn’t see Until much later in the race, I never would see any of the other SS guys again. It was an uncharacteristically good start for me and I tried to settle in and chill out but halfway through the lap I was still panting, I backed it off to a more steady pace as I neared the end of the lap, hoping I hadn’t spent too much fuel.
As I hit the turn into the woods going into the second lap I heard the telltale clank of a derailleur letting me know I had company, I didn’t really pay attention to the start order so I had no idea who it might be, then I saw green…it was my boy Jeff Whittingham, on a mission. I grabbed his wheel and hung on for dear life as he destroyed the trail in his big ring, the RPM’s I ran to stay on him through the roady sections was incalculable. I was spinning so hard the lactic acid was just pooling in my legs, I was praying for a hill, for some singletrack…mud, anything to slow the pace down. Jeff had already eaten up the two minute deficit he had on our group so there was no point in fighting him, resistance was futile, so it basically turned into the most brutal group ride I’d ever been on. About three quarters of the way through the third and final lap he cracked me, I blew apart like a non-perforated sausage in a microwave. We had just passed John Burns, I semi-pro sidelined with a flat, as he came past I tried to stay with him but I had nothing, it was simply time to go home. Suddenly all the roots and rocks which had gone by in a blur the previous two laps became bone-jarring and back-breaking, so close…so far away.
Luckily I pushed as hard as I could given my shattered state because not too long after I rolled across the line Ramponi came raging in for second place…monster, frickin’ monster, not to mention that his cool down ride entailed riding back to Quincy.
Not a bad ride for me but not as impressive as the performances of Jeff and Mike. Mike is retired from racing, he’s basically a dedicated commuter who beats the hell out of his buddys on group rides at The Blue Hills (on a rigid SS, in a two to one gear) and Jeff had been waiting for the breakthrough win before upgrading to Semi-Pro (he would have beaten all but three in the Pro/Semi-pros) he had the fourth fastest time of all the people at the event that day. So congratulations to those guys and thanks to my family especially my niece and nephew for coming out to cheer me on, it made for an extra-special day.


IF Chicks said...

yea Thom..
good race. You're too damn modest !
Ramponi commuted to race; why is that not surprising ?? :)

Too bad I missed it, I was towing the acient line instead for some inspiration. I will link you up on my blog shortly...

jeff said...

where's the race report for the 50!?