Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You've Heard This Before.....

Ok, I know I've said this before, but this time I mean it; now I'm ACTUALLY done with my serious racing season. As I was driving out of the Nevada desert, I got a call from a teammate. He informed me that he was the victim of an unfortunate (and rather nasty) crash while racing the Green Mountain Stage Race out in Vermont. As sad as I was to hear this, I was NOT saddened by the fact that his injury opened up a spot on Ian Mckissick's hit-squad for the Mt. Baker Hill Climb. Ian is one of the best pros in the country, and by far the fastest guy in the Northwest. For those who don't know, the Mt. Baker Hillclimb is a peculiar race. It's a mass-start road-race totaling just under 25 miles, the first 15 of which are mostly flat. It's not sanctioned by the USCF, so there are no restrictions regarding equipment. This means things like disc wheels, time-trial frames, and ultra-lightweight bikes are all allowed. Ian can go uphill faster than almost anyone in North America, so his victory was as sure of a sure-thing as it gets in cycling (i.e. barely bettin' odds), but he needed help; if the pace for the first 15 miles wasn't fast and steady, Ian might not have had enough juice to break the record (and thus secure the huge prize for the man who did so). At least that's what we flattered ourselves into thinking.

That's where I came in.

My job was to time-trial with teammate Dan Harm, flat-out, balls-to-the-wall until the bottom of the climb. Dan and I wore matching red BMC skinsuits, while Lang Reynolds, the third stage of our multi-stage rocket, wore a white skinsuit that matched Ian's. The guys in red had full aero setups, and the white guys rode bikes that were pounds under the UCI legal limit. It was fucking cool. (By the way, if anyone knows where pictures of this race might end up, please comment!) We all lined up right on the start line, and after the gun went off, we took it out so fast, we'd shredded the 120 person field to maybe 20 people before the first mile. Dan and I rode like bats out of hell, sharing the wind-breaking duties evenly until the intermediate KOM eight miles in. I lead it up most of the KOM, but people hungry for the cash came around me, among them Ian who whispered sweet words of encouragement as he went by. "Good job, you'll get back on," he said, before storming off the front of the field, totally alone, taking the KOM by a good 200 meters. Dan and I got dropped towards the crest of the climb. I was able to claw my way back up to the group (unfortunately Dan was not), and once I got there I went right back to driving the pace. To quote the great Dave Towle, I "flogged [myself] like a rented mule," until the road started to point up. Exactly according to plan, Lang picked up the pace at the base of the climb for as long as he could, and once he started to pop, Ian took it from there. There were a few other strong guys there for sure, and Ian had to attack a few times to shake them, but once he got off alone, he didn't look back, and smashed the record by over a minute. I kept riding at my threshold, and actually caught a few guys on the climb -- results have yet to be posted, but I probably cracked the top ten. Cool huh?

After the race, we got to change and chill out in Ian's fiance's nice new RV. We set up folding chairs, basked in Ian's success, and drank cold cokes -- and for a few precious moments, got to imagine we were real pro cyclists. The fact that I got my biggest payout from a bike race ever certainly didn't hurt.

I'll admit, I felt shockingly good. Considering how my last few races ended up, and the fact that I'd just spent 9 days in a desert breathing more particulate matter than half the residents of Beijing combined, I wasn't expecting much. Fitness is funny stuff. It's kind of like training a pit bull: the more work you put in, the better it gets; for the most part you know what it's going to do -- but sometimes it goes completely crazy for no reason and bites you in the ass!


Dirk said...

Awesome job Sam!
Here's what I found:

#299 Ian M
#331 Chris P
#364 Sam J
#384 Nick C
#388 Lang R
#417 Dan H
#459 Sorry I couldn't tell who this HB rider was.


#331 Chris P
#360 Sam J
#374 Nick C
#394 Dan H
#438 Unknown
#449 Unknown

Perhaps a Parrot said...

Dirk -- you rock! Thanks for tracking those down!

After counting the number of yellow (i.e. competitive category) numbers that went by the finish, it looks like I didn't crack the top ten after all -- 12th or so. Darn!

Max Rampage said...

a pit bull biting you in the ass.

what an analogy monsieur johnson!

Colin said...

NEXT DAY DELIVERY! get some brown bibs, baby!!