Tuesday, June 17, 2008

War Stories - The Streaked Mountian Road Race

(part of a hopefully regular series on real racing exploits from the author)

The Streaked Mountain Road Race was an early season race that was held for a few years in the late '80s/early '90s. Some of you may remember calling it simply 'buckfield', since that's the town it was in. It was on a 23 mile loop, with two significant hills. I seem to remember the flyer saying it was 2100 feet of climbing per lap. The lesser hill was in an apple orchard, and went up about 100 feet in a few hundred yards, I seem to remember it being well over 15% grade. The big hill was the real treat. The race started at the bottom and finished at the top, so you always did one more ascent than you did laps. It climbed 800 feet in three miles. This was before the cat 5's were invented, so the 4's did three laps and the pro/1/2/3 did 4 laps. It was held every year on the saturday before memorial day.

I may very well have the distances and ascents wrong. Feel free to correct me. The point is, it was a heinous race for may - in maine. To make matters worse, It was about a 3 hour hour drive from where I was living at the time, up in the wilds of down-east maine. This was inbred country, for sure.

I only ever raced it as a 4 since it stopped running the same year I upgraded. That was fine since I really can't say I missed riding 95 miles instead of 72.

The last year I raced it, I rode up with my good friend, Best Man, former RAAM competitor, and the person responsible for getting me addicted to cycling, Ed Kross. Now, Ed has a very dry and droll sense of humor. He also had the honor of being the nicest guy in the local peloton. Really, The guy actually raced with a handkerchief, and would use it in races rather than just toss a clam into the wind. So, he suckers, er, convinces me to take the three hour drive up there with him for a few years straight in his lil red pickup.

One year, on the way up, he tells me the story of how his brother worked way up in maine for a while and hated it. He said they should change the state motto from "Americas' Vacationland" to "Welcome to Maine, We Fuck Our Kids".

That year, Ed was a 3, so he was doing 4 laps, his field started a few minutes before us. I ended up in the front group on the last lap since I was one of the better climbers in the 4's field. The apple orchard climb came about 6 miles from the finish, and I pushed the pace up it. At the top, I looked back and had a gap of well over 100 yards, so I kept going. As I got to the bottom of the climb - 3 miles to go - I looked back an there was no one in sight. I hit the climb and just kept my pace. Then came the mistakes: At the one mile to go mark, I looked back, no one in sight, so I let up a bit. At 1 K to go, I look back. Still no one. So I pop it into my 39x23 and sit up. Hey, I got this thing in the bag, Right?


At the 100 meter to go mark, I can see the finish line. There are only a few people there, but they're screaming like lunatics.

Then I wake up. Three guys come flying past me. I jumped onto them as hard as I could, but they had come up on me too quickly, and I couldn't close the gap. Talk about Fucking Stupid?!?!

Afterwards one of them said to me they thought I was gone for sure. All I could muster was 'yeah, I kind of lost it at the end'. I'm thinking they assumed I had cooked myself. They didn't realize I was just being your typical cat 4 shithead. I had plenty of gas left to keep driving it when I shut it down.

I was crying in my gatorade about it to Ed, who had dropped out of the P123 race, when Big Red came up to me to chat. Big Red was a local cat 4 on a black cannondale 3.0. He had this massive bushy head of bright red hair with a full viking style beard and mustache to match. Other than that he was incredibly lean and fit. It was quite a look. The first two times up the big hill, he was hurting us. The third time, not so much, and we dropped him on one of the lesser climbs after that. He started polite conversation about riding the climb, he lived close by, and he rode the hill and course all the time. It wasn't too difficult to spot that he was a product of the local environment - a somewhat deficient school system, poor economic opportunities, etc.... I was being polite, and as polite as Ed was normally, he was so disgusted with both our performances that he just went about packing up the truck.

So I asked Red - "what gear were you climbing that hill in?"

Red replied "uh, tenth?"

I was somewhat taken aback. Ed popped out of the back of the truck like a jack-in-the-box, incredulous and wide eyed, then turned to me and said "we really have to get going".

So I excused myself "yeah, we have a long drive, it's been good talking to you". We exchanged pleasantries and he rolled off down the hill. As soon as he was away, Ed said to me "welcome to maine, we fuck our kids"


solobreak said...

Man, I've always suspected you were a talented yet underachieving slacker who could post great results if you actually applied yourself to the task, but this story takes the doobie.

The northern territories all had some colorful riders back in the 80s...

zencycle said...

If you look up slacker in the encyclopedia, you see a picture of me.