colonel mustard, in the ballroom, with the lead pipe

Race Report: Avon Road Race, May 6, 2006

Last year I hated this race. It was windy, horribly windy, so windy I could barely control my bike, and on top of that I got dropped very early on and rode the whole thing by myself. The good news is, I wasn't last. I was second to last. But needless to say, I ended up feeling rather bitter toward the whole idea of racing my bike in Avon, Minnesota, so I hadn't been looking forward to this year's edition of the race.

This year it wasn't looking much better. The wind was only 20 mph instead of 30, but it was still chilly and overcast. I pulled on my hat and my long sleeve jersey, went to the bathroom about eight times, and lined up to wait and wait and wait. While we were waiting at the start, all the clouds burned off and suddenly it was warm and sunny, but too late, my number was pinned to the long sleeve jersey.

Finally we started, about half an hour late. The course starts with a 4+ mile neutral rollout, which was good since any warming up we had done had worn off while we were sitting around at the start. The Blue Train hung out at the front and chatted until the pace car pulled off and the race started. We picked up the pace somewhat but kept it pretty easy for the first few minutes, until one of my teammates got frisky and attacked on a flat. It was a short attack though, and I don't think it shelled too many people. There were several more short attacks like that, all from Birchwood or Velo Bella girls, but for the most part the pack stayed together until the one significant hill on the course, about ten miles in.

During this time we were also leapfrogging with the juniors pack a bit, as they had started right behind us. We would slip by them on the right, but then our pace would ease up and somebody in their pack would take off and they would go zooming by on our left again. As we approached the hill, though, they passed us for good.

When we hit the hill, the whole thing blew up. Fortunately the Blue Train was still at the front of the pack, so we didn't get caught behind too many of the slower riders. My rockstar teammate Cam rode away from the rest of us like we were standing still, then realized at the top of the hill that she had a huge gap and took off. Shortly after that, I reached the top with my teammates Maria and Gilby and my archnemesis Penelope, formerly known as Bella P. We looked back and saw that we had an enormous gap as well, so off we went.

Meanwhile, a girl who had been riding with the junior pack had been dropped from their pack, and she grabbed Cam's wheel as Cam went by. The four of us could see this happening, and we got worried. "I hope Cam knows she can't work with that girl," we said to each other, "because if the officials see that she might get DQ'ed." It later turned out that Cam knew this, and was trying to shoo the other girl away, but the girl was now claiming to be a cat 4 even though she had started in the junior pack and had been working with them all along. Eventually Cam dropped her, but the four of us still thought she was a junior, so even though we could have easily caught her we didn't bother. Instead we worked on trying to get rid of Penelope. Unfortunately, while we had the basic concept of tag-teaming down, we came up a little short on the actual mechanics of it, and Penelope played it smart, so when we rounded the last corner onto the finishing straight she was still with us. Gilby did all the work into the headwind, hoping to get me and Maria across first and thus sweep the podium, and as we started to sprint she pulled off and let us go. Maria took the sprint easily, and Penelope and I came across together--I thought I edged her out at the end, but the officials are the ones with the cameras and they thought differently. Gilby came across right behind us.

At this point we thought we had swept the podium (we didn't find out until late last night that Penelope had actually beaten me). Our joy was pretty short-lived, though, as it turned out that second place had gone to "now I'm a junior, oh wait, now I'm a cat 4" girl. Ordinarily when you work with a field other than the one you're in, like say you're a cat 4 and you work with the juniors (ahem) they call that CHEATING, but when we went to raise hell with the officials the guy took the position that it was one field scored separately and that it was okay to work together. Which is all well and good, but if they wanted the women and juniors to work together they could have told us that at the beginning. Except for the one girl, everyone in both fields was under the impression that working together was illegal, and except for the one girl, the two fields operated completely separately. Certainly nobody else piggybacked on the other field to their advantage, cause, y'know, it's CHEATING. And if it wasn't cheating, it would have helped all of us to know that. It certainly would have helped the four of us to know that just because she started in the middle of the junior pack and then rode in the junior pack for half the race, didn't actually mean she was a junior. Walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, gets a cat 4 result. Grrrr.

Deep breaths. Okay, I'm over it.

Despite all the intrigue and skulduggery, it was an awesome race for the Blue Train, given that we had four of the top six. Cam, of course, stayed away the whole time and soloed in for the win. Fake Junior got second, Maria got third, Penelope got fourth (but her race number was 666, and when she does not have the Powers of Darkness on her side it will be a different story!), I got fifth, and Gilby was sixth. Plus we had three others further down in the results, and since the whole field was 18 riders, that means over a third of the field was blue. Choo choooooo!!!

Oh, and I am no longer harboring any ill will toward the town of Avon or its race. This was some of the most fun I've ever had in a bike race, and it turns out that when you take away the hurricane-force winds it's actually a pretty cool course. So my grudge has been cured. Or at least shifted back to Ken Woods.


Blogger Eclectchick said...

Powers of Darkness, heh . . . I don't know that bib numbers have anything to do with anything. I've raced with number 13, and all was well. Of course, I think 13 is a LUCKY number. So, well, um, nevermind.

P.S. The title of this post - priceless. Additional points for using the word "skullduggery," which I personally adore.

5/08/2006 3:59 PM  
Anonymous andy said...

You guys totally have the Quick.Step look going on. Now to complete it, all we need is a 2.4km cobbled section of road to have you ladies drill it over...

5/09/2006 8:34 AM  

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