Saturday, June 20, 2009

Middle of the Race

What does it mean when you're well into a race and you think you're farther into it than you actually are?
Let me explain.
Thursday's race was a timed event lasting two hours. There was no visible clock telling us the current run time, just a guy standing at the S/F periodically holding up a sheet of paper at ten minute intervals. If you happen to be paying attention to it, you'll be hip to the amount of time remaining. However, I noticed that the guy only holds up the placard while the front of the pack goes by. By the time the back of the pack was going past him, he was tucking it back into the notebook (as if the pack of riders only had eyes at the front like it were a living animal, or as if the riders would share the information amongst the group). Now I'll admit that there were times during this race that I would be sitting at the back of the pack trying desperately to recover. It's not against the law to sit at the back. Don't give me grief about punching tickets, tail-gunning, carrying the lantern rouge, or otherwise sitting in. I was racing. Some.
Well, after a good bit of racing, I expected the time placard to tell us that we had about 20 minutes left. I mean, the sun was going down, it was getting late, I was completely knackered. It had to be almost over, right? So I was surprised (not pleasantly) to come through the S/F area and notice the placard: 60 minutes left! Holy crap!
So does this mean that I'm out of shape and struggling? In over my head? Or does it mean that time is twisted and distorted in a race?
I really hope it's the latter.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Race Story

A year ago, I was writing about the loss of a close friend, an insider, a real chew-the-fat kind of friend: my gall bladder. (You see, the gall bladder helps digest fat. Oh yeah, that's hilarious.)
This time around, I actually made it to the event and had a blast.
The Clarendon Cup on Saturday and the USAF Classic on Sunday.
Real quick story about the USAF event: you know when you see the Air Force jets do a fly-over precisely at the end of the National Anthem? How do they do that? Let me tell you. Once you know the time that the jet will hit "the mark", you back-time from there. Sound simple? Don't kid yourself.
Long story short, we nailed the fly-over. It was a beautiful thing. And the Air Force Memorial is worth visiting.
The OTHER event on the weekend was the Clarendon Cup in which the wildest story unfolded in the Pro race.
Chad Gerlach (whose story that you really need to hear) rolls off the front 6 laps into a 100 lap criterium. Nobody shows interest in chasing after him, so his lead grows quickly. Soon, he is closing in on the back of the pack, about to lap the field. If he makes contact with the field, he will most assuredly win the race.
The field reacts by turning up the speed. He starts losing his lead. He loses all but 10 seconds of his lead.
The field almost caught him. He relaxed but didn't quit. The field came close to catching him, and then they relaxed.
Gerlach stayed on it, and his lead grew again. Many laps later, he almost caught the field again - drawing to within EIGHT seconds of him. And once again, they accelerated away from him.
Once again, he was almost caught. Eventually 7 riders bridged across the gap to him. A few laps later, they looked like they were going to get caught.
They didn't get caught. They sprinted for the win. 36-year-old Gerlach (I hope you clicked on that link and watched his story), off the front of the bike race for 95 laps, sprinted for 6th place. It wasn't hard to find the "most aggressive rider" this day.
Lemond and Armstrong both had great comeback stories. But this one is pretty damn cool, too.