Monday, April 27, 2009

Root 66 Fat Tire Classic

One word, Hot. After this race I had this idea that guys from the hotter climes, like Arizona and Florida could watch for wild fluctuations in the weather in New England during the early part of the race season, or at least attempt to predict the day it might suddenly hit 90° when it hasn't hardly cracked 70° any time before that. Then they could come up an prey on us like Gulls on hatching sea turtles, as they thrive and we wither in the heat.

Just don't tell any of them that.

As usual my pre-race prep was great. I was coming off a rest week on the bike and anything but at the work. I won't list the ways I abused my body throughout the week. One is worthy of a post, so you'll likely hear about that later. Saturday night I went to my nephew's birthday party where I ate a couple Pastrami sandwiches, handfuls of Doritos, cake, and then walked away with a bottle of premium Tequila my sister brought me from Mexico which I sampled followed by a couple cans of Dale's Pale Ale as I made last minute adjustments to my bike.

I awoke about an hour before I had to and decided to get on the trainer while eating an egg & Cheese and drinking coffee and Pedialyte while watching yet another Angel rerun (did you know there's a fan site for the theme song of Angel? For the frickin' theme? I hope not). Figured it was the only hope I had of getting my legs going after the lethargic week I'd had, full of excuses for why I had to drive to work every day. Miriam was away doing a 65 mile race down at The Cohutta in Tennessee so I had full access to the car all week. Miriam wound up getting really, really sick during the race but finished anyway and I am incredibly proud of her.

Pre-ride with Matt O'Keefe, that guy is a smooth rider
and a class act all the way.

After one lap of the course I decided to head back to the car and gear up from what I thought was a Big Gear to a BIG DUMB GEAR. Went from a 34 X 16 to a 34 X 15. I didn't have the stomach to
whip out my cell phone and do the calculation to see where that might land me gear inch wise. Turned out it was around 'Cross gear range. Just the thing for a 'Cross course. I did another pre-ride on the new gear and found it just the right amount of horrible. It was painful on the uphills and almost spinny on the flats. Almost.

The start. Small uphill into loose corner hole shot. This was nailed by the only other single speeder in the Pro ranks, James Harmon. I was close to the reverse hole shot, as you can see here. You can see me grab a couple spots through the corner but I was pretty much dead last. When things opened up after the first singletrack section I started making passes, my gear only feeling good when I was going all out.

Post race discussion: "Yes, it was hot, I did not feel good".
"I too thought it was hot and did not feel good".

The heat makes recalling details hard. It was a drooling, tongue wagging, hyperventilating nightmare from the gun. A whole bunch of really fast guys were suffering horribly due to the temperature. People who started fast ended slow, or dropped out entirely. I remember getting up to speed by the end of the first lap, chasing a group with John Burns from Bikeman, I think my teammate John Foley was there too. Man, I am really having trouble bringing up details. I guess I had a very focused race.

I have no idea how far into the race I caught up with Matt O'keefe. I thought "This is good, he is probably winning this jam". I asked him if anyone was ahead, he said there were two. I couldn't think who that might be. Matt wasn't feelin' it and evetually Mike Rowell gapped up to us, I picked up the pace to stay on him, we left Matt. I haven't had too much of a chance to ride with Mike, he's a rider I respect, but I'd always thought of him as a mountain biking roadie, not the case. He impressed me with his cornering prowess and even performed a sweet five foot bump jump gap. Mountain Biker with sick roadie power. The way he hits the short climbs is scary.

Speaking of sick power, I am going to try to wrap this up in the next ten minutes. I am too cooked to write and you're probably already thinking this thing is too long. I know you.

Rowell's pace proved too high for me and I began to feel the effects of the heat, My head went all tingly and my legs started to twinge. I had made a slight miscalculation. I thought the race was going to be sub hour and half like last year...but they added a lap. Oops. Two bottles was a little too little. As I started to feel weird, I just downed them, only taking on one Gu because my stomach was feeling a bit off.

Mike dropped me, another guy (Brian Wolff) caught up to me, but just after I passed Linnea in the midst of my mid-race dead spot and she told me (god, I can't write tonight) to "Get those meat sticks turning" or something like that, I began to rally. Shedding Brian and getting back within maybe fifteen or twenty seconds of Mike. But this was his part of the course and he just hammered away through the high-speed, snaking turns toward the finish, doubling the gap by the end.

I came through 4th, still in the money, although I didn't know it and missed the podium presentation. I was actually doing this awesome interview for Cyclingdirt:

I am so much more funnier and articulater in print. Cameras make me nervous...unless I'm pointing them at myself. It's cool what Colt and those guys have going on over there at Cyclingdirt, giving our little racing scene some pro-style-media coverage.

After the finish I rolled over and found a hose which I used to take a cold shower which may have been the highlight of the day. The fact that I had no qualms about pointing the hose straight down the front of my bib shorts in front anyone watching about sums up how I was feeling. I went over to talk to Mike, telling him "I don't know whether to hug you or hit you with a shovel". Thanks for the ass-whuppin' Mike.

I was so spent that I almost drove off with my coffee on the roof.
Wouldn't be the first time.

Linnea was so spent, she fell asleep in a horrible position.
Colin was so spent, he looked like this.

"The mountain biking's really making a comeback around here
and it's fun to be part of it"

- Johnny Bold on Cyclingdirt

With the numbers we're seeing at these first couple races, he might be right. I hope so.


Cathy said...

Please don't hit him with a shovel ;).

Colin R said...

Oh goody, the picture I tried to take of Linnea passed out in the car ended up looking like she's just looked down and *I'm* the freak. Dammit.

rick is! said...

you're better looking in print too.

Ryan said...

I'll have you know that Mr. Bold spent his Saturday in the dropped group of the Pro/1/2 race at Turtle Pond.

He stuck it out with us, and was probably super dehydrated.

mkr said...

Excellent work yesterday Thom. I know how bad I suffered and can only imagine how bad you must have been suffering on that death machine. Ooff!