Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday Night Ride: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

It's no secret that many of the TBR crew use the Wednesday night group ride as our proving grounds. In reality, this ride is a balls out interval workout disguised as a group ride. We ride our new rigs, we try out new components and we test our mettle against one another. We do this on one of the toughest trail networks in the tri-state area. I think sometimes we all take for granted how fortunate we are to have these awesome trails in our back yard.

In seasons past, these weekly efforts slowly build up team members, setting the foundation for some pretty solid results throughout the season. This year, there are some new regulars to the ride, who are pushing the veterans along. It's great to see the team growing, but still retaining that small team feel.

Last night was one of the toughest Wednesday night rides that I can remember. The trails were good but not especially fast... Looking down through the group, I think every rider had somebody to battle with and it made the whole ride faster, harder, more rewarding. It just shows that there's a lot of fitness floating around the ranks and it's exciting to see. I think the team is poised to have a great year, all around.

The post ride at Foster Boys had a good turnout as well... there were 25-30 people hanging out between the two groups. Nick hooked up a case of Bell's Brewing IPA and some other leftovers from his fridge. The Bells was a nice change, but I missed out on the "good stuff." I'm over it.

Now, I don't know if everybody has spring fever, or if it was a full moon, or what... but at about 9pm, things got a little out of hand...

We're all sitting around, talking, having good ole time, when out of the corner of my eye I see a yellow blur coming towards the shop. Seconds later, I see a middle aged woman wearing full tights and a day-glo windshirt, throw open the door to Foster Boys. Her attire was perplexing, since it was 80° and extremely humid yesterday. I was just about floored when she started screaming at our group of ~30. Just as quickly as she appeared, she was off and running towards LoweRiders - where about half of our cars and bikes are parked.

10 or 15 of us emptied out into the parking lot to see what all the fuss was about. She's standing in the middle of our cars, yelling about effing tow trucks, effing parking and yelling at us to effing move oure effing cars. We try to peice together what the hell she was talking about, but there's just no way to rationalize her gibberish. Ron, being unusually non-angry in such a situation tried to calm her down. She returned the favor by pushing him away and taking a swing. Then she proceeded to place a call to 911 Emergency services.

Rather than hulking out, Ron took the high road and walked away. Downingtown's finest, show up in full force, sending four peace officers. They were pleasant enough and not terribly interested in any of us. They seemed more intent on finding the lady who fled the scene after she saw them arrive. I doubt we'll make the blotter.

Never a dull moment in good ole Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pre-Intergallactic Interplanetary Anti-Matter, blah, blah, blah...(Marysville Relay) Conversation

My Buddy (excited) - Do you want to race Marysville this year?

Me (confused) - huh?

My Buddy (confused at my confusion) - Do you want to race Marysville this year?

Me (still not understanding) - I don't understand the question.

My Buddy (dumbfounded and getting a little exasperated) - Do. You. Want. To. Race. Marysville. This. Year...

Me (unflinchingly) - You can't "race" Marysville.

My Buddy (bewildered) - huh?

Me (nonchalantly) - In order to be considered a "race" the possibility of winning, no matter how unfathomably improbable, must at the very least be a remote possibility.

My Buddy (wide eyed in disbelief) - ...

Me (not affected) - A one-legged, custom-wearing, midget riding a tricycle has a better chance of winning Marysville then you and I and whatever team we pull together.

My Buddy (rolling his eyes) - ...

Me (continuing) - Unless we pull together a team of 12-year olds, or a team of pros, the ranks of which neither of us belong to, we have no chance whatsoever of even finishing in the top ten.

My Buddy (with renewed hope) - Yeah but I was thinking we could dress up as the gang from Speed Racer.

Me (flatly) - There was a "gang" in Speed Racer?

My Buddy (his excitement returning) - Yeah, you know, Speed, Trixie, and the monkey and that little boy that hang out in Speed's trunk.

Me (annoyed) - ...

My Buddy (unaffected by my lack of enthusiasm) - Come on it will be fun.

Me (now in disbelief) - Fun?

My Buddy (in opposition) - Yeah, fun, you remember fun? A light feeling of joviality precipitated by an activity that one finds enjoyable.

Me (incredulously) - U-huh, So you want me to dress up like a racecar driving twelve year old complete with red bandana and white bell bottoms and ride around the farm in the mud for "fun." What is this Halloween?

My Buddy (trying to be persuasive) - No, its for fun.

Me (flatly) - oh...

My Buddy (hopefully) - So?

Me - No thanks.

- end -

We did go to Marysville and "race" although we didn't wear costumes. Marysville is always a good time that even though I may not look forward to it each year, I always begrudgingly admit in the end that it is fun.


Baker's Dozen 2011 Edition

Saturday April 9th marked the 5th annual Baker's Dozen on the historic Rockland Farm in Leesburg, VA. This would be my first race on the farm and Kim's second. We were looking forward to a great weekend away with some fun racing bikes mixed in there.

We climbed into the XTerra just before lunch time on Friday in good spirits, despite the fact that it was cold and rainy here in good ole Dub C. Hopes were high that 150 miles to the South, things would be a bit more cheerful. They weren't. It rained the entire drive and after a couple hours, our conversations and thoughts turned from: "It'll be warm and sunny and dry because its Virginia" and "I think it's clearing up!" to "it's cold and wet and we're mudders; these are our ideal conditions!" We were thinking positive either way and looking forward to toeing the line the next day.

As we pulled into the pasture, we found a decent pit area on high-ish ground and started to set up shop. Dodging rain drops and cow pies, we pitched our tent. We debated setting up the "camping" tent and scoffed at the thought of camping here, on this night. The $60 or so spent for a room at the Hilton turned out to be the best 60 bucks I've spent this year. Score.

As we finished setting up, the mud had already claimed its first victim... a big ass box truck.

And Yeah... those clowns are trying to push that 20,000 pound truck; up hill, in the muddy cow shit, in the pouring rain. I thought about offering to hook them up to the XTerra and pulling them out. I thought about it for a minute... but gladly dismissed the thought when I overheard that some farm equipment had already been dispatched to rescue them.

The rain stopped for a minute, so we swiftly kitted up. Just before pushing off, we ran into Benny the Jewler and crew who were just wrapping up their pre-rides. It was nice to see some familiar faces and despite their advice to bag the pre-ride we were set on getting in a lap. As luck would have it, our pre-ride lap was great. It was super muddy, super slick, super FUN. Feeling good about how fun our lap was, we cleaned up in our hotel room shower (can't imagine how miserable I'd be if we were camping...) and went out for some grub. We relaxed at Brewer's Alley with some good food and a couple decent IPA's.

The Race

Saturday morning we made a Starbucks run for some coffee and a breakfast sandwich before driving to the farm. I'm surprisingly relaxed as I roll to the start line. Mister Twenty20 and I line up together and awkwardly exchange a few words... then just like that, the 13 hour race was under way.

As always, my strategy seems simple: sit back so I don't blow up... This is a 13 hour race, after all. That first lap isn't gonna make it or break it, ya know? I'm third into the woods and hot on Gunnar's wheel. So much for my race strategy. It felt like we were movin' pretty good considering the super slick conditions. Movin' pretty good that is, until I launched myself over the bars about a mile in. Meh. I recovered and pick my way back through the riders to sit on Auer's wheel for the rest of the lap. In retrospect, that crash was probably a good thing as it forced me to be more conservative that first lap.

There isn't much to report on the next few laps, except that the course was sort of drying out. The trails were turning from muddy-slick, to muddy-peanut butter. It was a tough day to race, that's for sure. As soon as I entered the woods on my 6th lap, I had a spectacular crash which left me bruised, bloodied and battered; lying on a boulder. I dont even know what happend, but it hurt pretty damned bad and I had to walk it off before retrieving my bike from the brush. I limped my way through what would be my last lap.

At the end of the day, We ended up 5th place after pulling the plug just short of the 11th hour. Given the circumstances, deciding to bail early was a pretty easy decision - it needed to be done. We were both already hurt and finishing this mud-fest in the dark just wasn't worth risking the rest of the season over.

We retired for the evening with some breakfast courtesy of the only place left open and serving food and a much needed hot shower, mattress and pillow at the Hilton.

Maybe we'll head back next year for redemption, maybe not. Time will tell.