Sunday, May 11, 2008

A roadrace, but still... it's sumthin' ta read.

Finish Line

When I signed up for the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race I just ASSUMED that I would be the biggest sandbagger there (seemed safe, and in the end I won so I guess I was right?)

Brooke and I got up early and picked up Eric (Team Bearclaw) and C.J. (Team Eric).

We stopped for gas and coffee and then drove to the venue and kitted up.

Due to confusing web misinformation Eric was in the wrong class but the awesome staff at the race got him into the already full field... with about (literally) 5 seconds to go.

As soon as Eric got to the line, and maybe even a little before, we started racing.

I had decided that since this race course was hilly and hard with headwinds I would race it like a mountain bike race... on the gas the whole time!

So as soon as I had elbowed my way to the front, (there was a yellow line rule in effect and due to the full field, no room to pass) the course turned left and steeply uphill.

I just rode as hard as I could without popping and when we crested the climb there were around 15 guys still in the group.

After the 10 minute descent I was still a bit tired so I wasn't exactly itching to pull yet!

There was one rider who was really pushing the pace though, riding for Simple Green and he attacked a little bit before the end of our first lap, getting a gap on everyone but not taking anyone with him to share the work.

It turned out that he was super strong though, because he just kept pulling away!

After "resting" for a few minutes I figured that since he looked pretty confident and nobody else was working I had better try my best to catch him.

I got into a good rhythm and gave it everything I had but I couldn't get anyone to pull through so I sat up a bit, which is apperently cat 5 code for "attack!".

At this point a scattering of riders (about 5?) swarmed around me, so I jumped on the wheel of one of them.

After a few minutes of the "every man for himself" chasing technique I was on the wheel of a racer on a Trek with gold bar-tape, Eric was was the next rider up the road in 2nd place and the Simple Green guy was still off the front.

We had just gone through the start finish area (where I pondered the benefits of stopping/giving up: Shade? Check. Cool refreshing beverage? Check. Not pedalling this stupid bicycle up that damn hill again? Double check!) and turned up the hill so I could see where everyone was in relation to each other.

The group had sort of come together then, with about 8 or 9 of us and I was pushing the pace up the hill again.

We caught up to Eric and he jumped into the group, but the leader was still up the road.

It all hung together on the descent again, but shortly after we turned right into the false flat and headwinds 2 riders, one of them Brian Davidson from the movie "eat!sleep?bikes!", about a group of friends who do the Furnace Creek 508 on fixed gears, really started pulling hard!

I stayed on their wheels and eventually Brian put in a really hard attack and the 3 of us got away.

When I saw that the gap had opened up I told the guys that if we worked we could make it to the finish, and I started pulling as hard as I could.

Brian and I were able to take pulls but the 3rd racer had used up too much energy earlier and could only sit on, eventually falling off the back.

Brian and I agreed that we wouldn't care too much which of us finished in front of the other as long as we weren't caught, and we both took turns pulling.

Eventually we caught the Simple Green rider and he jumped on with us.

I was the first racer into the last corner before the long (1 mile?) straightaway to the finish and I gassed it as hard as I could as soon as I came around.

Both of them stayed with me, and then Brian attacked and I did my best to keep his wheel.

As we neared the line the Simple Green racer came around me and I thought "Sweet! I'll have a 2 man lead-out for the finish." Wrong! As soon as he came between me and Brian he faded and a gap formed.

It wasn't that far to the line then, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to close the distance before we crossed.

I gave it everything I had and I caught Brian maybe a hundred feet from the finish, passing on his far left and just keeping on going.

Apparently he didn't have a sprint in his legs, which was great for me because I don't think I had one in mine either.

I crossed, he was maybe a second back, and the Simple Green rider finished an impressive 3rd after doing close to a lap off the front.

Eric came through a couple minutes later in 7th, I got a sweet medal and we drove home to BBQ and have a beer.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

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