Sunday, April 8, 2012

Home Weekend Part 2

Here's some more tales from the home race weekend courtesy of Marleigh and Colin.  I know Collin's post is ridiculously long, but it's worth the time. Also all of the good pictures here were taken by Marcus Thompson of Purdue.  He takes great photos at pretty much every race weekend and you can see them on his facebook here.  He's also participating in Bike and Build, which is a really cool group that organizes trips where people ride bikes across the country and help build affordable housing. If you like his photos please think about donating something to support his Bike and Build trip here.

Marleigh says:

Howdy folks! Marleigh here, the cycling teams’ token triathlete,

Well, after much protesting I was finally convinced that it was time to do my first cycling race.  Be very afraid. The convincing was mostly a group effort, spearheaded by a few members of the team (special thanks to John Gracely, Jane Gregg, Adam Kaye, and David Pfeiffer). And so, a triathlete branches in to the world of road racing.
This is a guide on how NOT to pin numbers.  Pin the number on the jersey before you put the jersey on.
I already knew there was a big difference between road races and triathlons, but I was unaware of the amount of strategy that was involved in road races, until everyone had a piece of advice for me. My favorites include “stay off the front, but in the lead on the dirt”, “sit farther back in the saddle on the dirt so you don’t sink your front wheel”, and “sprint to the finish…but not before those mail boxes over there”.  Hmm..ok, got it.
Hayley and Marleigh are soooo fucking excited.
So obviously the race starts, and I take the front. Triathletes for the win. Realizing that I probably do not want to stay at the front (apparently that’s what cyclists do?), despite the fact that we’re averaging slower than I typically would in a training ride, I backed off. Throughout the race a group of six of us broke away. Cycling terms…I’m learning... By the end I had learned a few of the other girls’ names, where they went to school, what they were studying, and what they had for breakfast, (ok, I might be exaggerating now.) Chatty group.

The ladies spend too much time talking.
Finally, after TWO WHOLE LAPS (sarcasm) the mailboxes were in sight (YES!), and the race started (wait…what?). And I took third in the sprint to the finish. Success.
Marleigh sprints for 3rd... in the saddle, on the hoods.

High points of the day..

1. I didn’t crash my bike.
2.  I didn’t crash anyone else’s’ bike.
3. Finished top three. So what if it was womens’ Bs?
4.  Didn’t freeze to death
5.  Danced to Call Me Maybe in the parking lot with Hayley and Clay
6. I didn’t crash my bike.

In sum. Success. Triathletes can ride bikes in groups! …on occasion.

Collin says:

I race for pain. I want to lock myself and everyone else in the hurt locker. There's no point in racing if you don't suffer. Imagine my dismay, then, when the C race began with a group going to the front, blocking the road, and soft pedaling at 17mph. If I'd wanted to go on a joy ride, I'd have slapped on a helmet mirror and fluorescent jacket and joined the AABTS squirrels as they plod along HRD.
Eric crawls into the hurt box and shuts off the lights.

When we made the first turn, a gap finally opened up on the left, and I shot to the front and turned the recovery ride into an actual race. Andrew quickly joined me, and we pulled hard around the corner onto the first dirt section. We kept pulling. When one of us came off the front, we'd drift back only to end up second or third wheel again because the rest of the field refused to pull. At some point, Andrew leaned over and said, "What the hell is this? Let's just TT this shit to the end." Indeed. This pattern repeated itself for the whole race. Andrew, Clay, a hairy-legged dude in a blue t-shirt, and I pulled. If Illinois or worse, Notre Damn, hit the front. BAM! Slowdown. Notre Damn only pulled at the start of the third lap, then they went back to sitting on wheels and plotting.

Hani can't stop and certainly won't stop.
On the last dirt section, Clay, Hairy-Legs, and I laid down the hammer and managed to shed a good deal of the field. When we hit pavement again, I heard Notre Damn plotting behind us. I peaked over my shoulder and saw a couple of them sitting there, clearly up to something. I mentioned to Hairy-Legs that Notre Damn was coming, and we agreed to follow each other onto their wheel.

John shows everyone how it's done on the dirt.
Well, they came, but there were three, not two. The dorky glasses dude, who I hadn't seen since the first lap had reappeared. I ended up on third wheel in the Notre Damn train. The first rider peeled off, and I stayed there. Then Dorky Glasses Dude sprinted around me. I tried to stand up and follow him, but my legs shouted: "YOU SHALL NOT SHALL PASS!" and I didn't. I ended up sitting up and rolling across the line fifth.

Notre Damn.  And yes winning does sometimes feel like this.
After the race, I threw my bike down (sort of) and laid on the ground. Magic floating dots were pulsating in my vision in rhythm with my heartbeat. This was a portent of the madness to come.
The B field rolls through the dirt section.
After 20 or 30 minutes, I got back on my bike and started riding back to Ann Arbor. I could've just taken M-52 back, had a nice 65 mile spin down and called it a day, but I hate that road. I decided to explore and just keep heading south on whatever road I found.
Unlike Collin, the ladies like to have fun on occasion.
Most of the route was nice, except when I thought I was five miles south of where I actually was and ended up in Okemos, flatted on railroad tracks, and dented my rear wheel. Oh well.

I made it to Dexter, 78 miles later, before my legs blew up, and I couldn't get my heartrate about 120bpm anymore. When I pulled up to my front door, I took my sunglasses off and thought, "Damn it's foggy." Then I looked inside my apartment, and it was still foggy. Shit. Turns out I broke my eyes. For an hour or two, everything had a white haze over it. My eyes were stop-sign red. I looked very much like I was dying. I was wandering through downtown that night, and many people just openly gawked at my horridness. I felt like a leper.
Nice cornering in the crit.
After the adventures of the previous day, I was reticent about the crit, as I'd blown my legs completely. Thankfully ice baths are somewhat miraculous (thanks for the tip Marleigh!), and I didn't feel horrible.
Jane in the B crit.
The script for the crit was the same as the road race. No one wanted to pull. People really enjoyed 0.5 lap attacks. They'd shoot off toward the top of the incline, fly downhill, then situp at the bottom. We did 16 laps and I shut down at least 5 or 6 of these dumb attacks. No one wanted to lead a sustained attack. I didn't have the juice for it sadly.
Pure class.
Coming into the final two laps, I was sitting toward the front after chasing down Notre Damn's team attack they tried with all four riders going to the front. Coming up the incline, I suddenly found myself spinning out my gears like a circus clown. Somehow my chain had slipped into the little ring. I shot out the back like a sack of lard. Numb hands didn't help my cause and it took about 20 seconds to get back into the big ring. By that time, with the race coming to a close, I was done. I chased hard but couldn't get back on.

Turns out Andrew just ended up fourth without realizing the race was even ending. Big ups!

Lesson learned: People don't like to pull because they want to win, not suffer. Such people are dumb.
Well some people don't have problems with suffering.

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