Friday, May 1, 2009

On A Horse With No Name

I have never been to an actual desert. However, this past weekend the Turtle Pond Circuit race certainly felt the way I imagine a desert would feel: HOT. After pedaling around in 50 and 60 degree temperatures, the sudden arrival of 90 degree heat was a shock, both physically and mentally.

My incesant checking of the weather sites before the race revealed the day would be hot. However, I failed to remember how terrible I feel the first real warm day of the year. Racing on a 90 degree day seems to be the equivalent of gasping deep breaths or stale air from a working kiln. Small efforts on the bike translate to large jumps in heart rate. Water bottles run dry before the race even leaves the feedzone. Salt collects in the corners of your eyes and tips of your lips. Basically, you suffer like any other race but the overall uncomfortable feeling of being way too hot adds another level to the suffering index.

So, there we were. We being Rkelly, Rossman and me. There being the back roads of Loudon, NH. Like last year, the first lap was very active. The three of us were on our toes waiting to jump into the right break. Attack. Chase. Counter. Recover. Chase. Chase. Chase. MISS THE BREAK. Yes, the three of us missed the break, but not without trying. Robbie King (damn him and his desire to remain in New England and torture us all summer)countered a move and I jumped on his wheel. After riding this race for a few years, I remember the course well. We were in a section of false flats and small rollers. It was ideal to get a small group formed and storm up the road. Unfortunately, the pace car suddenly turned right and nearly came to a stop at the base of a short but steep climb. SHIT. DOWN SHIFT DOWN SHIFT. As I was scrambling to find the appropriate gear, Robbie was doing the same but his chain dropped (yes?). Our small gap to the field was now gone and dudes were streaking up the hill. I saw Robbie sprint past me and make contact with the leaders, but my meager power barely got me back up to speed before the tail gunners of the pack appeared next to me. The rest of the race was spent drinking water, thinking about jumping in the pond and contemplating ending the race early to find ice cream.

Neither Rossman, Rkelly nor I pulled the plug early. Instead, we remained in the disintigrating "field" until the last lap. As we were simply riding for a finish without ideas of winning, the NorEast contingent felt it was best to have the field work together and just cross the line. But, the other guys felt differently. On the short, steep climb, a Spooky rider attacked...fortunately, Karma decided this was a dick move and pulled the Spooky rider's chain from his bike. We passed him as he was frantically attempting to remount the chain. There may have been some minor heckling involving the line "Karma's a bitch" derived from the NorEasters...can't be sure though. This should have taught the rest of the field a lesson. They should have just ridden across the line content to finish. Instead, guys decided to attack. Without discusssing our actions, RKelly and I went to the front and began pulling each attack back. It was time to play by the others' rules. With the 200m to go, Rossman rocketed past us battling two other guys. There was a slight rise in the road, but RKelly and I could see our teammate win (the field sprint). We were finally able to get some ice cream.

Interestingly, half the field probably dropped out of the race. The heat was affecting everyone and racers were dropping like flies. In the end, we ended with 14th, 18th and 19th. Yay.

Jiminy Peak this weekend. 90 miles and hills. Should be fun or something like that.

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