Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild Horses

Friday night I joined some friends to hear Joe Parkin give a talk at the Oregon Manifest show. At one point he was talking about racing on the infamous cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix. While he said there is no way to express what it is like riding over these massive cobblestones, he did say that the sections of pavement in between the cobbles would feel like the smoothest pavement in the world, like riding on glass. So while I am sure yesterday’s course doesn’t compare to the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, the bumps and holes of the horse pastures at the Sherwood Equestrian Center we raced on sure made the gravel roads feel like smooth asphalt under my wheels, and a welcome, if not short, respite for my aching back and blistered palms. Too bad the gravel section also happened to be an uphill, not quite a respite for my aching and burning legs. And so it was Sunday, a course of pain no matter how you sliced it.

Despite a week of promising forecasts calling for rain, complete with the remnants of a typhoon on Saturday, it turned out to be another warm dry day. The only dirt on me was from the dust kicked up in the fields. Which of course explains the rough and tumble course. And being on the side of a hill, there was plenty of climbing. Maybe not all at once like last week at Rainier, but more broken up, interspersed with life sucking bumpy meadows and bone jarring descents. Have I mentioned it was bumpy?

For yesterday’s race I had the luxury of being the last guy called up before the random number staging thanks to the one series point I scored the week before with an 18th place. This put me in about the 3rd or 4th row. Which was good as the start straight was short followed by a lot of turns and single track that would make moving up hard for the first half of a lap. My start was decent and I felt like I made the cut into the front clump of riders. From there all I could do was try to move up and get some more series points. After a lap or so I was told I was in the top 15. Sweet. A couple more laps and I am just outside the top 10! Are you kidding me? I so wanted to just ease up at that point, but to be honest I never thought I could ever stand a chance at a top 10 in a Crusade A race, I couldn't blow a good opportunity. So I just dug in and kept plugging away. Got to 9th place with 2 laps to go and no one right behind me, so at that point I was pretty content to just hold my spot. But no, both Gant and Margi had to tell me that Mike Benno was just ahead of me, and since he just beat me the past few races I had to at least try. I got on his wheel at the barriers for the second to last time when lady luck would take my side, as he dropped his chain. He gracefully got out of way and encouraged me on. I just kept a solid pace for the last lap to be sure no one caught me, and came across the line in 8th! Really? This is a joke right? I just couldn't beleive it until I saw the results posted. I finished ahead of or right behind a lot of guys I have always looked to as the fast guys. I just don’t consider myself as one of them. I’m supposed to be pack fodder, a 'have not', a 'never was'. Certainly not a fast guy. As psyched as I am for my fitness right now, it will take a few more similar results before I can begin to think I am in the same zip code as some of these guys.

Maybe Margi's speed is rubbing off on to me, as she finished 2nd for the 2nd week in a row! She is tearing it up on these hilly courses. The lady likes her some hills.

Me, not so much...