Such were the immortal words uttered by the immutable Danny Callen one early spring training ride 15 years ago. Danny wasn't a climber but he could hang with the cat 3 pack at Killington. We were waiting for him at the top of a very small climb, and he rode up a few minutes later. When asked what happened, he said "my legs hurt, so I stopped..."
The weather was promising for the Sterling road Race - temps pushing 80, humid, over cast. I rode down with The Indomitable Duane Skofield again, in the Magic Bus of Doom. It's best to not listen too carefully to the bus as it moves....kinda scary, some of the noises coming out of the thing....
We parked in front of paul curley, new englands second most hated bike racer. There was space in front of and behind paul, and he parked directly in front of a fire hydrant. Fucking typical.
Prepping for the weather, We New Englanders aren't quite prepared for summer conditions the first week in may. We're too skeptical that it might end up snowing. Duane had packed a light wicking base layer to wear under his kit. At the race, he put the thing on, then called my attention to it.
"Jay, what's wrong with this?"
It wasn't a wicking base layer, it was his teenage daughters cotton t-shirt. He looked liked a caricature of Men On Film from In Living Color, except a lot more ugly. He wore it anyways.
After laughing so hard I thought I wouldn't be able to race because of stomach spasms, we finally got our shit together. I rolled up to the start line with plenty of time to spare, next to my old friend Bangin Billy Bad Balls Bigring Cassaza aka The Marlboro Man (he won marlboro three years straight). I took a swig from my bottle and immediately spewed it on the ground. Billy asked "is that your bottle I smell?" Sure enough, it was. Turns out Duane had an identical bottle to mine in his van, that had obviously been there for several months and started life as an energy drink. I'm not sure what life form it was now, but it certainly was toxic. I tossed the whole bottle in the trash.
Getting back to the start, I notice in front of me an old Softride bike, the kind with the big carbon seat beam. Softrides aren't USAC legal - strike one. The rider was wearing a generic red jersey with a pair of goofy white compression socks up to his knees - strike two. Now, I'm not one to check out guys asses (to quote Kinneson - "How does one guy look at another guys hairy ass and find love?"), but the problem with this guy was _no_ ass. Flat, no development at all. Even out-of-shape bike racers have asses, it may be round and less defined, but it's there. This guys ass reminded me of kevin costner in American Flyers - not only not a bike racers ass, but not even an athletes ass. Super-out-of-shape newbie trigeek - strike 3.
Anyways, the race went off, and true to script for this race, a group goes off the front at the beginning. I knew of randy rusk, dave kellogg, someone who I thought was andy ruiz, and a few others that took off. I thought "good for them, that' means I wont' get dropped today".
It turned into a break of three with rusk, frank jennings (gearworks) and ron bourgoin (cyclemania). The rest of the guys all came back to the field.
At the end of two laps, they had minute gap. A few guys were trying things at the front, and I thought I would join the fun. The third time up the hill I was at the front and pushed the pace. I looked back and had a 100 foot gap. WTF? I wasn't exactly hammering....I kept the pace and by the top of the steep stuff (under the highway) had company. Chronoman had bridged up to me, towing adam sternfield, and the field not far behind. I worked at the front for the whole next lap, and the next time around tyler munroe atttacked up the climb. We got a small group of about 20 guys that could stay with it and a ten second gap all the way up the hill. It just came together before the downhill.
Not much happened after that until Softride Boy - riding in the field, decided to bump shoulders with two cycle mania guys. It happened right in front of me. We were seriously not riding hard into the wind on the flat part of the course, so some of the stragglers got back on, including the Beam rider. He decided, for some silly reason, to stick himself in between two cycle mania riders that were near the back chatting. He bumped into one of them, leaned into the other one who pushed him back, then went down. I managed to avoid it since I actually saw it unfold. A gearworks rider said loudly, "I knew that bike was going down today". The trigeek started screaming obscenities. Turns out when he went down, riders behind me were taking drinks and eating, and in the ensuing lack of control, Bad Balls and Solobreak swerved and bumped while holding bottles and both went down. As BadBalls told it after, the trigeek in his rage attempted to forcibly yank his bike from under the pile of bodies, and caused more damage than was originally there. Badballs had a nasty gouge on his ankle that he said was caused by the rear brake on the softride when trigeek tried to rip it out from under him. Read Solos account,
Billy thinks he has a cracked rib, but Duane thinks it's just bruised. Duane would know, since I don't think he has any ribs that aren't cracked from his years of motorcycle racing.
The last time up the hill was more spirited, but still not enough to break things up, and the last downhill had a number of escape attempts but nothing stuck. Fortunately, the last time up rte 12 before the finish, there were also a number of escape attempts, and this kept things from bunching up too much.
The sprint started in earnest just at the top of the little rise before the common, partially due to the fact that we saw two of the escaped riders just starting the finish climb. As riders popped off the front, two trucks had been let go through after the break went through. One took a right into a parking lot and the other stopped for the first one. Great - a pickup truck on a small section of road just two lanes wide. In amidst all the shouting, the truck started to move.....Too Late, we had already committed to our lines at high speed. As the truck moved, he made John Mosher (corner cycle) have to change his line suddenly. John fortunately braked enough so that when he hit the back of the truck, it was with just enough speed to stop the bike, John just kind of fell over at low speed.
Here's where it got scary - The truck had nylon straps across the tailgate holding the gate closed. One of Johns brake levers got caught in the strap, and as the truck pulled away it took johns bike with him. Fortunately, the driver stopped immediately and john had already disengaged from his pedals. A number of riders shut it down, and I hit the brakes as well, but still had a good line so I went for it.
Now, for those of you unaware, this finish hill is about 100 yards long and a solid 20% grade. Not something to look forward to in a 42 mile race with around 3000 feet of climbing. You actually do that section 7 times, since the race starts at the bottom, and finishes at the top. I hit the climb in about 15th spot, so I just kept hammering. I started to cramp about 3/4s of the way up the finish climb, but held on for 8th, no one passed me but I passed a bunch of guys. We caught the 3rd guy in the break and almost caught jennings, who barely held on for 2nd. I'm not sure if I would have made top ten if the accident hadn't occurred. I view it as a tainted placing for everyone except the top three.
Talking to Duane after the race, it turns out he knows softride boy. Believe it or not, the guy is the head of the PE department at newburyport high school. Duane knows the guy well. I've actually even met him at the mausdley state park thanksgiving day 'turkey trot'. I had no idea that was the dude.
More on how not to recover after a race -
After the race, don't stretch, go home and drink beer, then run a power washer cleaning deck and siding for two hours, go out to a friends house for diner and drink more beer.
Get up the next morning, go on 2 1/2 hour mtb ride, don't stretch after wards. Ride the lawnmower for 90 minutes, while drinking beer. take a nap. Clean ten loads of trash out of the attic. Eat two cheeseburgers with beer. Pass out on the couch.
The MTB ride was fun, my 17 mile circuit between winnekenni and millvale reservoirs, some good mud, trails generally in good shape otherwise, but then I had to ride for a mile into that killer headwind to get home, then my legs hurt, so I stopped...