Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the tuesday night races

Yesterday I thought I was going to be in Bethesda having dinner with a friend...until at about 2pm I realized that is happening next weekend (someday I may condescend to using some kind of day planner--several years ago I showed up a week early to a conference...I booked my airfare, rented a car, flew from Nashville to Denver, and it wasn't until I showed up at the Marriot, then went to the other Marriot, then back to the original Marriot, that I finally realized I had arrived a week early--so someday I may condescend to using a day planner, but not yet). The evening being freed up allowed me time for some bike play.

My first racing experience (in 1988) came from a little mid-week event outside of Boise that we called the Tuesday Night Race. It was a 18-mile out-and-back affair on a dusty desert road where the wind always blew and always in the same direction and always HARD. One might say the wind blew with a vengence, and if one were to say that, I would excuse the absurdity of the metaphor (because why would the wind have a vendetta against anyone?) because the wind really did blow that hard.

Riders self-selected into A, B, and C groups and began the race at one to two minute intervals with the slower riders leaving first. Because of the handicap, the groups would come together at about the turnaround, then everyone was together for the race back. The way out, with the wind at our backs, was fast, fun, and comfortable for 14 year-old beginners like me. The way back was murder. The fast group would catch up, and with it the intensity, and by the time we'd made our way back to the two or three ball-breaking rollers near the finish I'd be toast. The weekly goal was to stay with the pack until the first of those hills. A MAJOR accomplishment was to stay with the pack until the finish. I'm not sure I ever did, though Mark may have. A couple years later the course was moved, the hills weren't as bad, I got stronger, and the whole dynamic changed.

So yesterday (Tuesday) I relived all that as I tagged along with the end-of-season Pine Grove duke-out between South Mountain Velo (those guys on the other side of the mountain) and Yellow Breeches Racing. A 22-mile out-and-back over the undulating Pine Grove Furnace Road.

Now, this isn't Wednesday Worlds or the DC Goon Ride, but a race is a race. Don't get me wrong, some of these guys can throw down, but some of these guys are nearly twice my age too. I mean, my being there probably dropped the average rider age three or four years.

Anyway...I flatted about five miles in. Fixed it. Rode on, then turned around when the main group came back past. On both kickers right there by the park I dropped the hammer and openned a decent gap between myself and the field both times. But both times within about a kilometer I was caught. A final attack in the last mile proved fruitless and I coasted over the line at the back of the field.

Good fun. I love the bike games...even when it's all unofficial and there's nothing really at stake.

Recently, reporters ask Floyd Landis why he wants to continue racing after having been disgraced and out of the sport for two years. The answer--obvious to me--is that he just loves racing his bicycle. So do I.

1 comment:

UtRider said...

I stayed with the "fast" group one time from the beginning to the end. I remember Lance (who at the time worked at Performance Schwinn) looked back right before the finish, saw that I was still with the group, and said "Good job" or something to that effect. I don't know if I've ever had a result that felt as good as that. You, of course, went on to great things. Sometime when you're bored you should write a post about the Cat 4 (back before Cat 5 existed) Idaho State Championship you won. That was pretty dang cool.