Sunday, August 2, 2009

Hodges Village Dam race report.

Prerace

There are a few things that turn me into a whiny bitch. Heat is one of them, not being able to ride is another. The recent weather pattern of oppressive heat, downpour, oppressive heat, downpour, (...and repeat) has sucked my motivation dry and basically turned me into a whiny bitch. Heat also suppresses your appetite, and not eating leads to less energy. So I basically have been sitting at home, sweating, with no energy, trying to find the motivation to go out and ride in the mud between downpours. waaaaaaaaa.

That's the long way of saying I really didn't feel like racing. I had my ear to the intertubes this week, and the rumor was that the race course was underwater. I checked again the morning of the race and found that some brave souls had pre-ridden and posted this...


yar mattie, grass off the port bow.

Well, I figured it would be easier to throw it in autopilot and go through the race day routine, instead of sleeping in then trying to peel my whiny ass off the couch to go out for a ride later in the day. Basically, I went to the race to force myself into a training ride.

Race day.

Funny thing about the current weather we are experiencing is no matter how many times you have ridden a course in the past, this year it is probably going to be different. With this in mind, I figure I needed a preride to see exactly what I was working with. Basically, there were a bunch of mud puddles, one or two long stretches of mud, but nothing too bad. The water was something I had never dealt with before. There were two enormous puddles you had to ride through, but hit them with enough speed and you could pop out the far side without too much effort.

"That one part".

Then there was "that one part". This is the part in the picture above. It was maybe 50 yards of water that put your entire pedal stroke (at least for us little guys) underwater. It was like riding a trainer, with the resistance jacked way up. Kind of like grinding up a super steep incline, but without any threat of losing traction. It just sucked the power out of your legs. On the plus side, it did rinse all the mud off your bike and your legs, and it was quite refreshing. On the negative side, I don't think my bike is going to move again until I replace every bearing.

The floating bridge.

Ahhh. Almost forgot. One of the stream crossings was so flooded that the bridge that spanned it was floating. It must have been chained down underwater to keep it from floating away, but who knows. At the start line, the official told us this was a mandatory dismount, meaning you're not allowed to ride it. That was probably a smart call. The edge of the bridge was about three feet from the "shore" and when you put a foot on it, it would teeter-totter, sending the far side up out of the water, and your side underwater up to your knee. As you crossed it, it would be maybe ankle deep in the middle, but as you got to the far end, it would teeter-totter the other way putting the water back up to your knee. Of course after these repeated dunkings, it was as slick as wet wood could possible get. I have to admit, this thing was pretty awesome obsticle, but probably belonged in a funhouse more than on a race course.

Get to the racing already!

For the first time in my life, I'm to the start line before we are called for staging. When the call goes out, I am second to the line. I line up directly behind the only other person there, taking a spot in the back row when there are about 10 open spots on the front row. "We got plenty of room up here in the front" I'm told, "Nope, I'm going to stay back here, out of every one's way" I reply. I know my role, it's to not get trampled, and to not ruin the start for the actual pros.

On the start line, it was decided that we would only do four, instead of the advertised five laps. Deciding the race length 30 seconds before the start seems to be becoming the norm for the Open/Pro race. I'm cool with whatever method results in a two hour (+/-10 mins) race, and based on this metric, four laps was the correct call.

The start is a long, slightly uphill fireroad, with a few turns. I'm going with the flow, mid-pack for most of it. I notice some gaps forming, so I make a few moves. Next thing I know I'm in towards the front, with a bunch of fast dudes behind me. My race could not possibly be won in the starting stretch, but my retardation could end someone elses race in the starting stretch. This is why I always line up at the back, I don't want to interfere with the actual Pros. I'm kind of panicking, and I feel out of place, but pick up a few more spots after some riders in front of me bobble once we're off the fireroad.

Kevin Hines is behind me, breathing down my neck, asking to get by. I'm following someone who has let a big gap open in front of them. My main goal right now is to not slow down Kevin Hines. I see an opening, and make the pass. I should mention that the first mile of this race is some of the most fun, flowy, bermy, smooth trail I have ever raced, it's like riding a roller coaster. So after my pass, the trail is mine and I open it up. Hines eventually comes around me and I glue myself to his wheel. A few minutes down the trail he bobbles, and I make the pass.

WTF?

I'm towards the front of the race, and I just passed Kevin Hines? It's at this point that a switch flipped. Up until this point, I was just happy to be in the Pro/Open race. My goal has been to beat at least one other guy, and not make a fool of myself. At no point do I actually feel like I am competing against the guys that actually belong (aka, have a pro license, and a chance of winning) in the Pro race. After a little back and forth with one of guys that actually belong in the race, I start feeling my fucking oats. (coincidentally, oatmeal is usually part of my pre-race routine, but I accidentally left it out this morning, when I realized this somewhere along the masspike, I ate every energy bar I could find in my car. So no, I wasn't literally feeling my oats, just a few Clif Bars)

My time in front of Hines was short-lived, but I hung onto his wheel again after he re-passed. Next up is John Foley, I assume he bobbled somewhere because he's running a rock garden. We pass him, he hops back on his ride and joins the train.

WTF!?!

I just passed Foley? This is getting weird. It's like imagination land. Halfway through the lap we come upon Josh Wilcox, who beat me in 9 of 9 Cat1 races last year. Hines takes off, and I'm left sucking Josh's wheel. Somewhere along the way we lost Foley. Towards the end of the lap, I test my legs by coming around Josh to lead the train (of two) for a bit. I open a little gap, but he stays 5-10 seconds behind me through the Start/Finish, I hammer through the feed like the classy gentleman I am, and lose him. I'm alone now, I look over my shoulder and see nothing. I take a drink, settle into a nice spin and look over my shoulder again to see this:

BAM!

Blogger won't let me make that any bigger, but it should take up your entire field of vision. I'm basically staring into the middle of Foley's chest, as he is two inches off my wheel. For all I know he dropped from the sky. It was a long straight fireroad, and it was empty as far as the eye could see 15 seconds ago. I immediately move to the right and ask if he wants to come around. He doesn't say anything, or come around, so I hammer into the swoopy, bermy part again with him hot on my tail. A few minutes later I over cook a corner, Foley passes on the inside, and I'm back on his wheel.

I commence to ride directly behind Foley for the entirety of the second lap. On the fireroads, he would either eat/drink and I would stay with him, or he would ride, dropping me with ease. Little known fact: John Foley actually owns every fireroad in Massachusetts. I didn't see any U-Haul trailers in the parking lot, so I assume Foley drives a pick-up, I don't see any other way for his to transport all his watts to the race. As soon as the trail got smooth and wide, I would watch his bulging calve muscles disappear up the road. I managed to catch back up each time we got back into the rocks, roots and mud.


Foley, Sunday cruise. Me, 185 BPM. (cred: doublehop.blogspot.com)

It kind of started to feel ridiculous after awhile. I was on his wheel for over a half hour. It was like take your kid to work day, and Foley was nice enough to take me along for a ride. "Hey, John, can we pass that guy next? Can we, can we, can we?" That guy was Seamus Powell, Pro series leader. I went through the start finish at the end of the second lap sandwiched between the two guys who are first and second place in the Pro series. Not to mention that Foley was fresh off his win at Mount Snow last week, where he finished 15 minutes in front of me. Yes, 15 minutes in front of what I considered one of my best races.

The unspoken word.

What you have probably assumed, but I have not mentioned is that this entire time I am digging deeper and deeper into my pain cave. We're only halfway through the race, and I'm just about out of matches. At the beginning of the third lap, Foley does his fireroad thing up the long starting stretch and don't have an answer left in my legs. He's gone. Now the true test begins, can I maintain "Pro Pace" on my own? Now was not the time to recover. I grabbed my shovel and burrowed deeper into the cave.

I consider the very back of the pain cave to be Tony Martin going up Ventoux. I also call this "zombie face." Eyes barely open, mouth agape, wishing for death. Let's compare me, with the back of the pain cave. Here is Tony "Zombie Face" Martin and Myself:


Brains, BRAINS!

Similar, but my mud-catchers, errrr, I mean eyes, are way to alert. I actually think this photo was taken pretty early in the race, I don't even seem that dirty. Coming through to start the fourth lap I was a mess, I actually made the concious decision to wipe the drool and snot off my face so I didn't scare any women or children.

This is getting long, so....

In summary.

I turned myself inside out and did not get passed in the last lap and a half. I successfully rode "Pro Pace" all on my own after daddy left me out in the wind. I had a breif moment of panic when I looked over my shoulder with about 45 seconds to go, and saw Mike Joos sneaking up on me at high speed. I shat my pants, then got my wits about me and opened up a sprint for the finish that seemed to last forever, eventually crossing the line in 6th place, out of 20.

Don't worry, I will be writing more about this race once I get a chance to nit-pick the results.

8 comments:

  1. Fuck yes Kevin!!! Kickass job!!!!!

    Here is more proof of your awesomeness http://www.flickr.com/photos/nmeyerhans/3783571544/sizes/o/in/set-72157621803004935/

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  2. Mike Joos
    "I pretty much spent the majority of the race riding alone… I wouldn’t see any one till the last lap… I passed a couple of guys and was closing in on a third guy… I was trying to pull a ninja stealth attack on the third guy In order to catch him off guard and pass him on the dirt road section right before the finish.



    but my ninja skills were lacking today... he noticed me 200 ft back put his head down and hammered… I tried… but didn’t have enough time to close the gap… finished 7th or 8th I think…haven’t seen the results yet"

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  3. Great Job! Great pics! Great post!

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  4. Kevin you killed it for sure,that was awesome! Loved the race report!
    Josh

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  5. There's another gallery up at doublehop.blogspot.com. This is different than Pain Face's gallery.

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  6. Way to kill it Kevin. Have fun @ Great Glen. I'm betting the course won't suck!

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