Tuesday, August 21, 2007

more of my full week....

On the morning of the Tour de Lovell, I awoke five minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off, serene, like a Labrador retriever (huh?). The morning flowed gracefully from breakfast, to packing my bags, to driving to the race with my uncle. I went to the registration table, and picked up my packet—I was bib number one. While pinning my numbers, I helped a handful of people with their own pinning jobs. The instructions said that racers needed to wear numbers on their bikes, helmets and hips, which led to all kinds of comical number placements. Most people pinned their un-crinkled number directly to their spandex shorts, right over their hips, such that every pedal stroke would make the number bow out like a spinnaker. While doing my best to avoid coming off like a condescending know-it-all (and perhaps stifling a scoff), I showed my uncle and another nearby racer how to scrunch up the numbers, so they break up the air-flow, and then where on jersey I place my own numbers—just above the pockets, lined up with the seam of the fabric, ten pins per number. Watching people pin race numbers on for the first time was like traveling back through time, back to when I was just getting started—before the thousands of hours on the bike, before the years of commitment, before the heated debates I’ve had with other racers about the various (and deeply divided) philosophies regarding proper number placement and attachment protocol. My nostalgia only lasted a few minutes before I was forced to shift my focus back to preparing for the race, but for a few precious moments, I was a terrified college freshman about to race in my first collegiate C race. It was delightful.

Before long, the race was underway. We staged in the parking lot, then rolled out to the road, where we staged again on the start line. For the first two or three miles, the race functioned somewhat like a normal bike race. There was a large group of us, and whenever someone would go off the front, everyone would chase. Before long, however, we made the turn from Maine Highway 5, to Maine Highway 5A, and climbed up a short steep roller. This was the only part of the course steeper than 4%, and a nice place to attack. Knowing a large chunk of my family would be camped out atop the roller—I told them that would most likely be the best place to watch—I gave it full gas over the top. This completely shattered the field, and from then on, I just stared ay my powermeter, trying to keep the number above 400. By the turnaround, I clearly had the race in the bag: there was one chaser roughly a minute back, and another three or four maybe thirty seconds behind him. The Tour de Lovell is only 20 miles long, so I was able to keep things steady until the finish. I sprinted to the line and saluted the crowd (which was composed mostly of my family members). I doubled back and posed for dozens of photos, with a variety of very proud relatives. I grabbed some yogurt from the refreshments tent, and then hitched a ride back to the cabin with my grandfather.

Remembering last year’s awards ceremony, I knew I had at least an hour before I needed to be back to collect my prize. We got back to Heald Pond, where I changed into a swimsuit and took a quick swim. The water is delightfully warm this time of year, especially near the surface on a sunny day. After splashing around until I my legs felt cooled-off and my arms felt tired, I showered, tended to my roadrash, and ate. Eventually my grandmother began to get worried that I would miss the awards ceremony, which was a good thing; we drive back to the staging area, and just as I got out of the car I heard the race director say my name. I walked straight from the curb to the front of the tiny crowd, shook a few hands, gratefully accepted my trophy (awesome, huh?), posed for a few more pictures, and within ten minutes was headed back home. By then, the family reunion was in full swing: the pond was littered with tiny boats and inflatable toys, champagne was being sipped (or gulped) out of plastic flutes, and lobsters were being executed by the dozens. While they might not be very well-practiced at putting on bike races, Mainers know how to do summertime.

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