there should be a law against races WITHOUT lemonade

Race Report: State Championship Road Race, June 24, 2006

Friday night Nate and I drove down to Plainview, a little middle-of-nowhere town about half an hour north of Rochester. Both of us started at 9:30 sharp, so we figured we'd get more sleep if we went down there the night before. The registration and staging area for the race were in the parking lot of a campground, so we planned to stay there.

It's never a good sign when they spell it "kampground," because kamping is not at all the same thing as camping, but all we needed was a place to stay. Unfortunately, this particular style of kamping was pretty heavy on the beer. Nate and I rolled in around 10 p.m. and went to the "lodge" where we were supposed to check in. This "lodge" was painted in peeling seafoam green and had neon Budweiser signs in the window. We opened the door, fearing the worst, and yep, it was a bar. The kind of bar that serves only Bud and Bud Light, with a jukebox pounding out Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl. Country boys and girls gittin' down on the farm, I guess. I paid for our campsite--excuse me, kampsite--at the bar, didn't have to provide our license plate number, any ID, nothin'. And we didn't get an assigned site. I'm not entirely sure why I even paid, since I don't think the bartender would have noticed.

Not long after we crawled into our sleeping bags, the drunk people began stumbling back to their sites. One woman apparently could not find her husband and began bellowing "Joe! Joe! JOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEE!!" After a while it turned out that Joe had been right there the whole time, because he started bellowing right back. "God damn it, I'm right here, what do you got to be yelling Joe Joe Joe for, god damn it!" Then, despite their obvious drunkenness, they began discussing how they had to move their truck and where they were going to put it. Nate and I were both fully awake by then, and more than a little concerned that Joe was going to run over our tent. Fortunately he didn't.

The steady stream of drunk yelling people didn't let up until at least 4:30, and we had the alarm set for 6:30. It was one of those nights where I was actually relieved when the alarm went off because it was just too frustrating trying to sleep. So after we packed everything up, registered, changed, and lined up at the start line, I made sure to warn everyone that if they saw me starting to swerve off the road it was because I had fallen asleep and pretty please would they wake me up.

But I didn't fall asleep. Fifteen of us took off at the whistle, all cat 4s (my favorite kind of race!). We had a neutral start of about three miles, which took us to the start/finish line halfway up a mile-long climb, then we de-neutralized for the second half of the climb. Three girls fell off the back right away, leaving us with a pack of 12. Yeah, I know, you men think that's pretty funny, but there are a lot less crashes when your pack is that small, so nyah nyah.

The rest of the course was pretty flat, with some gentle rollers but nothing that wasn't big-ringable, and then a monster descent back to the bottom of the river valley. We more or less stayed together for the first of three thirteen-mile laps, with one exception: my rockstar teammate Cam, who soloed the entire Avon course for the win a couple months ago, attacked hard halfway through the lap and no one went after her. It helped that Birchwood had five of the remaining twelve riders so we were pretty much in control, but there was never any organized chase. Later I talked to a couple girls from other teams and it turned out they were thinking no way can she stay away for 35 miles, she'll be back, but my teammates and I were looking at each other and laughing, knowing we were racing for second.

Cam disappeared into the distance, but the rest of us stayed together until the end of the lap when we hit the Big Hill again. I didn't look back, just made my way to the front of the group and stuck on the leaders' wheels until we got to the top, looked around, and saw that only six remained. Four of those six were ours! The unlucky minority was made up of Penelope (of course) and a GP rider whose name will be.... uh.... dang, this pseudonym-inventing stuff is hard. Maleficent, there we go. Evil yet ultimately doomed. Tee hee hee.

We went around again, then up the hill again. We did what we could to shake Penelope and Maleficent, attacking over and over and forcing Penelope to chase and then forcing Maleficent to pull the entire way up the hill, but when we hit the bottom of the hill for the last time all six were still there. I was laying low at the back of the pack, waiting for someone to jump. We passed the 1k sign, then the 500 sign, and nothing. Then we came around a curve and the finish line was in sight, and that was it: Penelope stood up and went, hard. I sprinted after her with everything I had, but it was like Lance passing Ullrich on the Alpe d'Huez in 2001, with my tongue hanging down to my knees and her flying like she'd been slingshotted. All that was missing was "the Look." A second later Gilby came around me, charging hard. I stood up again, looking for more power, but my legs seriously would not hold me up. I sat back down and just spun as fast as I could trying to hold the others off, which I did, crossing the line in fourth just as my hamstring cramped. My legs nearly gave out as I climbed off my bike, but fortunately our awesome crew was there to instantly shove a cold bottle of water in one hand and an icy lemonade in the other, while pushing a chair under my butt at the same time! Talk about the rockstar treatment. Plus Dylan was there, being the official Race Dog, and he was pretty happy to see me.

So after Cam's superstar solo victory, Penelope was able to hold Gilby off for second, then Gilby in third, me in fourth, Maleficent in fifth, Alix sixth and Maria seventh. I then corner-marshaled for the afternoon races, ate Chipotle on the way home, and slept for twelve solid hours. Dylan slept for 15.

1.Yeah, that flag photo really is from the campground. Nate took it. You just can't make this shit up, folks.
2. Notice Gilby in the yellow MWCMR jersey, which she still has after her third place finish. I am presently holding down third in the series, but I have to miss the next series race for a friend's wedding and that'll be the end of that. Oh well.


Blogger Jim said...

Yes!...You got a photo of the flags. We noticed those after the race and wanted to take a photo but didn't have a camera. I wonder how long it took them to decide what order to put them in on the pole.

6/26/2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Eclectchick said...

Wedding-shmedding! To quote Hamlet, the race's the thing! Okay - he said the play's the thing. Anyhow.

Totally kidding. sucks when life gets in the way, doesn't it?

6/26/2006 3:55 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Nah, not this time. Given the choice between a crit, which I suck at, and a party in Vermont, I don't have to think real hard before jumping on that plane. I'm just glad I didn't have to miss the State Road Race this year -- the past two years in a row there have been weddings on that same weekend, in Indiana, which is much less exciting than Vermont.

6/26/2006 4:03 PM  
Blogger Shawn Kielty said...

I might be in Vermont for that -- I am New York and New England for ten days starting Saturday.

I don't have any weddings to go to though.

6/26/2006 10:44 PM  
Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Way to go Birchwood Ladies! Congrats on the well earned victory and Gilby staying in 1st for the series. You ladies rock mightily!

6/26/2006 11:52 PM  

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