Monday, September 14, 2009

Root 66 Landmine Race

Landmine is a 3 hour drive for me and from last year's experiences driving so far before and after a race doesn't make me happy. So on Saturday we went up to Hartford for a couples massage at Prossage Muscle Therapy and had brunch at Agave restaurant.

I was feeling very relaxed happy and the food was really good. It was a Mexican breakfast with shredded beef and eggs with hot green peppers and rice and beans.

Part of the plan to go up the day before is having to deal with Boston traffic and directions. Last year coming home from the race I took a wrong turn and wound up in downtown Boston. So this year I wrote down tons of directions and did pretty well. Maybe someday I will have a gps to get me to where I'm going.

The rain was getting me worried about the course but I figured there was nothing I could do about it. The course was going to be wet and the bridges were going to be slick. During the race there was lots of water sections. Water up to the hubs!

Since it was so wet out I pulled Selma in for the night and wiped her down.

All of this traveling, getting a massage, going out to eat, and staying at a hotel was quite a lot of stuff for one race. I'm glad it's not like that for all the races. It makes me really thankful to be in the heart of bike racing where the races are mostly close by. Don't get me wrong. I still had a good time. Sometimes it was more stress than relaxing and it cost a lot of money. And I'm not sure if it helped me perform better as I will tell you next.

The race was interesting. I think I will stop calling it a race now and just call it a ride. So the ride was interesting. I got to start next to the Golden Bike guy and from what I hear he finished strong. Looking at the results you wouldn't have guessed that I was having a bad day. I would have won the ss class. But I digress. Would've but didn't.

At the starting line it was very weird with the golden cheerleaders dissing me with their protruding belly buttons, doing negative cheers like "you're too slow, he's gonna leave you in the dust". I just felt embarrassed and awkward --it's nothing against them-- but it just seemed weird to have these cheerleaders telling us we're not going to be as good as the golden bike guy. I guess that's supposed to help the golden bike kid win. I just felt bad for the cheerleaders because they were stuck in front of all these guys who were just wondering what the hell they were doing there and maybe they felt really awkward and wondering why the hell they were there too. I suppose it's just for fun.

What would be REALLY COOL would be to have some like guy on a dirt bike getting us all suped up or something, revving his engine and doing wheelies and stuff. I was on the drumline in high school and we used to supe up the football players before the game by going into their locker room before the game and just pounding the shit out of the drums to get them all amped! Or... shirtless drunk guys with golden painted faces screaming at us like some kind of pre-battle viking war chant. At least it wouldn't be such a downer. Maybe the negative cheers worked and that's why I had a bad race!!

So off we go and I'm feeling special that my heavy gear could keep up on the super flat double track section. I stuck to the core group as we headed into the first single track and right behind Randall Jacobs. I figured this was good. I could see the group ahead slowly creeping away from us but I was comfortable and all. Greg "the leg" Montello was right with us and the first tricky climb section I was off the bike and running up the climb. That put the hurt on me for sure and needed to recover. But recovery was not going to happen. I failed once again to pick the "right"gear and was stuck with the wrong gear. If you don't know the feeling it's when you get on your bike and start to pedal but are stuck in too hard of a gear and you want to down shift but can't. Mentally it drove me nuts. I knew that the 34x18 would be hard but not as hard as it was. So I lost all of my "spunk" and slowly digressed into self pity and loss of feelings in my gut to race anymore.

But it wasn't until I hit a rock while pedaling and smashed my cheap ass crank brother pedal that I really lost the edge to keep pushing. I couldn't clip in very well and it was hit or miss. Once I was able to clip in it was hard to keep focused on the terrain and I felt that it was unsafe for me to keep riding at "race" pace. It really was a big fat excuse for me to just sit up and chalk it up to experience and knowing that everyone has a bad race sometimes.

But before all of that happened I was really going good with Colin. (One of the fastest cat 1's and super cross man around) It was really fun to ride with him. Very positive guy that didn't seem to be racing as much as riding really fast and having a lot of fun. I'm sure having a full suspension bike had nothing to do with it. He was kind enough to drag me around on the flat open paved sections with his gears. At one point I was totally spinning like a blender just to hold his wheel. Yes Colin gears would have been nice. Again I had a lot of fun riding with him and racing was not really happening for me. So eventually he left me behind and that was that. Great job Colin you are really killing it out there. I can't imagine what your cross season is going to be like.

So after the pedal strike I pulled off to check out the carnage and saw that the one of the bars was bent and the pedal had a lot of resistance. That's when Mike Rowell passed me and Greg passed me too. I was out. I picked up a rock and started to bang my pedal to see if it would get back into shape enough to feel confidently clipped in. Didn't budge.

Back on the bike again and a single speeder from Independent fab passed me and wanted me to follow him because he knew the course. Ya, that would have been great if I could. The guy was killing it. I could hear some other guys behind me and so I pulled off to let them pass. It was good old Rob Stine. I didn't even try to stick with him because this was his bread and butter. Rough is his middle name. Especially on a rigid 26" single speed. He breaks all of his bikes every other week so he's down to his last frame.

Then the 19-29 guys passed me and the 30-39 guys passed and somewhere the 40+ dudes with Jonny Bold in the lead passed as well.

Then I saw Kevin Sweeny. The look on his face I could tell he was not too happy. So I thought that I would ride with him and try to cheer him up. We rode a steady pace and I was able to stick with him for the last 10 miles. I was having a lot of fun just riding with someone. He was cleaning sections that were kinda hard to clean. And I was so impressed that I couldn't help but yell some encouragement. I hoped it helped. Thanks Kevin for letting me tag along. You helped me to stick it out whether you knew it or not.

Kevin and I caught up to Greg Montello and he was in the same boat as us. Like we all stepped on a Landmine. His back wheel was all wobbly from a broken spoke. I also had a broken spoke. Did I mention this course was rough? So Me, Kevin and Greg pushed it through to the end. I was second to last with a time of 2:19 min. Which was 10 mins faster then last year. But I did get a flat last year too.

How Kevin Hines won the pro class and the golden bike I will never know. He's going to be racing in the 50+ category next year. It makes me damn depressed thinking about how good he is but it also makes me think that maybe when I'm 48 years old I can whoop up on the 30-year-olds.

I kinda got choked up a bit because it was fun just to be able to ride with these guys and this was the last race of the year for the root 66 series. And if you thought I was going to drag myself to Mt Snow for the finals you're smoking crack.

I'll finish racing mountain bikes this year for the New York series. Then it's local cross races for me. I'm boycotting Verge series because I'm a big cry baby that doesn't have $500 to sign up for all of the races 2 months ahead of time at lunch time to get a good spot up front for a chance at placing. What's the deal?


  1. I was racing, not just riding, showboating for my wife, or beating on my bike with a rock, and I only beat you by 2 minutes. Great job sticking it out!
    No crack smoking, just a little huffing...

  2. The cheerleaders are totally awkward. They're so awkward it goes past regular awkward into some kind of absurdist shit. Cheerleaders at a bike race, what is this, a David Lynch movie?

    Honestly, I kind of liked it because it was so bizarre.

    I had fun riding with you. Whenever I am hating life in races (pretty much any long climb) I try to remember how much more it would suck to be at work right now. It's all about perspective, even when you're having a shitty bike race it's STILL A BIKE RACE so it's pretty fun compared to most stuff.

    See you sometime during cross season.