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Road Cyclists Sure Are Uptight eh?
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roughster


Aug 23, 2003, 5:01 PM
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Road Cyclists Sure Are Uptight eh?
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Ok more on that too come, but lets get to the report 1st. Winters Road race, I entered into Cat 5 on the advice of my friend who was also doing the Cat 5 race.

Got to the site around the time when race registration opened. By the time I parked and walked down to the pavilion, there was a line probably 50 people deep. Alex (my friend) rode this race in 1999 and he said that were woefully few people. It looks like cycling has probably gone through a boom lately as by the end of the day, most categories had overflow races and Alex had said that in '99 there were only 20 Cat 5 participants.

I looked around for Alex for a few minutes till it was greater than 15 mins past when we were to meet, so I jumped in line to turn in my form and collect my number. I did a few laps looking for him to no avail so I ended up heading back to my truck to get my crap all set up.

On the way back, I noticed his truck, but didn't see him, so I figured I'd gear up and head back to find him. Pumped up the tires, double-checked my screws on my speedplay cleats (had been meaning to do that for about a week and sure enough one was slightly loose. Locked up and headed back. Found him in the sign up line, so I cruised the lot till he was ready for our warm up ride.

We headed out 113 for a few miles then turned up a side road just in time for nature to start calling. Fortunately a small stand of trees provided ample opportunity for covert urination. Quickly back on the bike to resume the warm up. During the warm up, Alex laid down the new plan of attack, i.e. survival mode. Originally I was going to try and pull for Alex in a 2nd loop attack (Course was 2 X 24 mile loops). However, judging by the masses in the 2 Cat 5 group we decided to just try and hang on and not get dropped and then if an opportunity presented itself we would revert back to the old plan. His final words to me were, "If I get dropped just keep going." Which I thought kind of strange but when I asked, "Seriously", he replied, "Yeah the field is too deep, I think the podium is a pipe dream at this point."

We cruised back to the starting line about 10 mins before our start time (08:45) only to find the pros had not been let loose yet and that meant they were over 1/2 hour behind schedule. We chit chatted and watched a few verbal shouting matches break out about overflow riders being in the standard race pack. One guy even took off with the group and the race director was running down the street after him yelling through a bull horn the whole time about he would be disqualified if he kept going. Quite the comical scene, but I was starting to note the extremely tense feeling in the air. MUCH different than the start of a tri where people seem to exude fun and friendliness (at least from my perspective).

After a brief wait, our group was called up and we took two spots near the back. On a 48 mile course I figured where we started really wouldn't matter much, but in reality it does. But more on that later!

The horn sounded and off we went down a "neutral" area (race director called it that). I just shrugged my shoulders as I have no clue to what that means but I assume it means no "hard racing" or something akin to that. The pack started of a bit slow in 18 mph range, but within 2 miles we were trucking along like a freight train @ 27 mph. I had a feeling from this start that Alex's decision about abandoning the podium effort was a good move as if that pace was sustained, I was thinking I didn't even have much of a chance to hold onto the main group.

The course was a pleasant jaunt through some flats a small series of rolling hills for the 1st 6 miles or so. Because of the straight course, people were packed very tightly. I was a little unnerved by how close other riders were as well as the aggressive style I could see being played out front. Several riders were jockeying for position near the front side and I knew it was getting problematic when I could hear people swearing about, "This or that A-hole cutting me off!"

After the straight-aways, small incline is reached before a road switch. Everyone was tightly packed with Alex and I just about mid pack when I heard a muffled "Oh S__t" and then metallic clanging and scraping sounds. I had just started moving up one spot on the right and quickly swerved to the right to avoid what started looking to be a large pile up. By the time I passed it, there were at least 5 people on the ground, and a group of 5 more riders totally stopped and stuck behind the mass of people sprawled on the pavement. One of those "stuck" people was Alex. Because I had swerved a bit faster thanks to already moving right, I completely avoided the pile up, but I had slowed down enough to turn and see Alex get stuck, but also to at least recognize he didn't go down. The last words he said to me before we started floated through my mind, "If I get dropped, don't wait." I couldn't decide if this was an appropriate time to keep going or to stop. I could see he didn't go down, but I could also see the main pack slowly slipping beyond my reach.

As this was playing out (over a few seconds) I was cruising along at around 20 mph and getting further from the crash by every second. Despite being torn on what to do, I turned forward and put the hammer down to catch the pack. Alex is a better cyclist than I am to be sure, as well as he has road raced several times before, he would surely catch back up. Also, I was worried that slowing down ay more would also be dangerous on my part as I will still in the middle of a group of about 10 riders who avoided the wreck. In probably no more than 10 secs all the event and then factors raced through my mind, I still don't know if I made the right decision :( After the race Alex told me I did and said he would have done the same, but I just don't know. Its one of things that you make in a split second and just have to deal with I guess :(

I caught back up to the pack and we continued on our blistering pace of 28 mph. Amazingly enough, a few more miles down the road, the pros lapped our group about 10 miles into our race. Literally it was like pedaling a tricycle in the middle of the Tour de France. They absolutely freight trained by us going to what must have been 35+ mph. It was pretty damn impressive to say the least!

One effect of the pros passing in mass, was it really fragmented up our group as pros interwove into our group as we all started the beginning of a sustained 6 mile climb. The end result of this was our group was split into 2 after the pros dispensed with the hill and moved on. I was in the second pack and that was fortunate as another near-wreck happened in the 1st group as two riders bumped hard and then pinballed around for a bit sending people flying, but at least no one ended up on the road.

The hills were tough, and ashamedly I hit the granny ring ;) Actually I am not ashamed as I noticed just about everyone in my group who had a granny ring was in it. The course was sustained climbing up Cantelow (I have done this portion before and it is always wicked). I noticed the 2 groups began to spread out but also the 1st group got about a 200 yard separation on my group. I was considering trying to jump out of the saddle and bridge the gap, but I was already fighting another battle...

Stomach cramps. I am not sure if it was something I had eaten last night, this morning, or pre-race. Could have been over hydration (I don't think it was though), or possibly just getting sick (my best bet). Reason why i say the later is that as I type this I make the mad dash periodically to the bathroom to paint the inside of the bowl. Put the lid down, plop on, grab the toilet roll bar, and hold on for the ride type of stomach cramps if you know what I mean.

Anyways, as we started the steep final ascent, I began experimenting, very gingerly I might add, with an unorthodox form of jet propulsion. I just hope the guys behind me weren't wishing I had worn mud flaps instead of bike shorts ;) But no matter how much pressure release I was doing I was really hurting. Furthermore, when I hit the top and tried to kick out of the granny, I slipped my chain and had to touch down for a sec, it wasn't too bad since I was going about 7 mph at the top from how steep the climb was :) , Once flicked back on, I began the descent from the summit. This is where I really missed my Aerobars :( I normally aero a good portion of this stretch but instead this time I had to go down to the hood, which was nice for braking but made me feel unstable due to inexperience. I hit 43 mph at one point and people were flying by me pretty fast. I just let them go as I have two kids to live for and a wife. Splattering at 45+ mph during a $20 bike race is not good form from what I hear ;)

I hit the bottom, turned onto Pleasant Valley Rd back towards Winters to find I had pretty much lost touch with the second group as well now. Oh well. I had figured that I wouldn't be able to hang so I just decided to put my head down, dropped onto the aerobars....DOH!!! NO AEROBARS Man that sucked as I never really realized just how accustomed I have become to riding in aero on the flats. I struggled with a mix of hood and bull horn grips, but never seemed to reach that state of spinning nirvana like I can when I am in aero :(

The good news was I had closed the gap on two riders who were obviously working together alternating pulls. I bridged the gap and as I passed, the guy up front said, "1/2 mile pulls and it will go quicker for all of us." I couldn't have agreed more and finished off my 1/2 mile and dropped to the back of our threesome. It was actually going great as we all seemed to want to spin the same speed ~24-25 mph and everyone was holding their own.

Before long we were crossing the finish line, however we still had another 24 mile loop before we could stop! And so our threesome pressed onward. It worked wonders during the 1st few mile flats, but one of our group just dropped out at the 1st set of hills. I can understand why as well because about that same time my legs were burning, I was at 178 HR and was considering doing it myself, but I just decided to suck it up and give it all I could.

Down to two, we made it to the start of the climbing probably not that far off from our initial loop split, but at that point I told the guy (never caught his name) that if he wanted to jam to take off as I was going to have to conserve a bit on the hills to ensure I could get over the summit. Turns out he must've been thinking the same thing as we pretty much stayed close the whole way up. Down the backside, only to have him take off *damn you guys* Heheh I know I should have pulled out the stops as well, but I just couldn't bring myself to risk life in limbs while resting with the bloated feeling in my stomach.

Of course this left me right back in the same position as lap one, in no mans land solo. I put my head down and spun high cadence to try and real him back and, and eventually I did where we resumed out tag team effort.

About 5 miles out a rough section of proved too much for the fellow though and he told me to go ahead as he started slowing down. I really had no choice to but to suck it up now that I had lost my alternating 5 min rest. So thatís what I did.

Ironically enough I found some reserve in there somewhere and was able to keep my pace 24+ mph through the stretch. Now hereís where some drama entered for me personally, and at the time I didn't even know it. As I was spinning away, I passed a trio of "900s" which were 45+ master I think? Anyways, I passed the trio and got in a groove and was kind of oblivious as to what was going on. I looked down a few times and noticed a wheel shadow, turned my head eventually and saw that the lead of the 900's was playing the, "I am not drafting but this break from the wind is real nice" game. Basically he was sitting about 7-8 feet back. not chomping, but close enough where he was copping a feel I am sure.

Oh well, I could care less, they are not in my group, so I kept riding. Eventually though I did begin to tire and sure enough the 900s crept on by. Crept on by was a problem because basically they passed me and then slowed to my speed, ughhh. I had the option of dropping back but screw that, they passed me. I just kept going the same speed. Sometimes they would slow down a bit and I would catch up, and sometimes they would break a small gap but never really do anything with it. When I saw the 1KM left sign I jumped out of the saddle and decided to loose them entirely. (Can you see where this is going?)

Well, evidently one of the 900s wasn't aware that the rider they were playing peek-a-boo with was a different "class" and he followed me out on the sprint. I didn't even notice because eventually I dropped him. So anyways, I hammer it on home and cross the finish line and am surprised to see my wife, daughter, and son cheering me on in at the finish line (they weren't going to go, but I guess decided at the last minute). That was a big boost and put a smile on my face!

I spun down the road about a mile and then came back to finish line to get some luvin's from the family. I was talking to my wife when an older gentleman walked up and asked if he could speak with me. I could tell by the look on his face that he was not happy, but I had no clue with what it had to do with me. Oh well, and I followed his lead a few yards down the road.

"Do you know that working with a group outside of your cat is against the rules?"

"Ummm yeah.." /raises hands to side showing the universal pose for "WTF are you talking about?"

""well I followed you out on your sprint thinking you were a 900 and I blew my legs too early and got passed by the other guys in my group. You cost me two spots!"

I was shocked, and I am sure he could read the look on my face. I really only had one response to say," Well I see your number, you see my number, seems like you were unaware of your surroundings and that cost you your "spot". Sorry but your going to have to lay the blame on someone else."

"Bull, you owe me an apology!"

Well this was problematic as my wife, daughter, and son are basically about 10 yards away and all looking my direction, I am tired from the race, and my stomach is bloated and upset. I know my fuse and I am sure it was just a hair notch above "Self Destruct". So what did I do? I turned the other cheek so to speak and just walked back w/o saying anything.

Now here is where it got ugly. He followed me back. As he started to speak, I turned and got right in his face and said,

"Back the @#$% off or Iím going to knock your ass out!"

Silence...... He just stood there stunned. I am sure my body language went from "Gee I am tired" to "Gee I am going to f_cking rip you apart right here right now" in a millisecond.

Finally he must have gathered what little courage he had left and said, "Well we'll just see what the race director has to say about this."

To which I responded, "Heís right over there" /pointing to the finishing line trailer.

Of course I knew I had lost my temper, and no I do not think it was "cool", but I was peeved that he would have the nerve to follow me back and to make matters worse, my family was there and I am sure some sort of protective instinct kicked in as literally even I didn't see the ferocity of my reply coming.

Bren (my wife) had an interesting insight. She said that with pretty much every group that crossed the line at least one of them would start shouting/cursing at other riders. She said it got so bad she would cover Max's (my sons) ears because she was worried he would start repeating the words. After my little "altercation", as I was standing there chatting with Brenda, sure enough the next group came through and sure enough one of them began cussing, "F..K F..K F..K" if you know what I mean. I think they should hand out some Quaaludes or something at the finish line because people are just way too aggro!

Alex showed up about 5 mins behind me and we chatted. He said he thought he would have caught me, but I guess he ended up in No Mans Land as well and didn't really hook up with anyone to alternates pulls with.

All in all a very fun race, but to tell you the truth, I hit the finish line feeling like, ok now where do we start the run. Cycling is an excellent training activity as well as a great part of a triathlon, but to tell you the truth, I really think cycling as a stand alone sport is like a generic beer in a black and white can. It can still get you drunk, but why sell yourself short??? Go for the real thing, tris are where its at!

Well at least for this Cat.....5

:)


solid


Aug 23, 2003, 5:40 PM
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lots of cyclists are whiners like that when they f up. blowing them off is usually your best bet.


tenn_dawg


Aug 23, 2003, 6:03 PM
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Excellent story there Rough.

At first I though, "Oh great, a funky non climbing TR." But I really enjoyed it. I'm emailing it to my dad, who is getting a great interest in cycling. I'll let you know if he gets a kick out of it.

Travis


montgomerywick


Aug 23, 2003, 6:08 PM
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Pulled a Harry and only read the end (a freaking novel)

but I digress,...you are right, roadies are a pain in the ass..i ride w/ them 2-3 times a week...I used to constanlty piss off the "big dogs" cause I would "half wheel," attack at the wrong times and did not supplicate enough apparently...know one told me their was an "ettiqutte" until later...very gay...

I am pretty certain I still rub'em wrong...


sixter


Aug 23, 2003, 7:54 PM
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Most of the guys I raced, and trained with were pretty mello. I did see quite a few of the guys that were total jerks. I just didn't ride with them. I mostly raced on the velodrome, so I didn't have to deal with the jerk roadies very often. Best thing you can do is just shrug your shoulders and walk away. On the velodrome you mostly run into the real racers, as few of the jerks want to make the investment for a track bike, and gears, spare wheels. I met quite a few great people on the track. *sniff* I miss bicycling.

[edit] It's just another example how people are taking less and less responsibility for their own actions.


copperhead


Aug 23, 2003, 7:59 PM
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Holy schist, you guys actually read all of that?

Ride a dirt bike.


chuckd278


Aug 23, 2003, 8:45 PM
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It was his fault. If you caught up to his pack and hanged on there then it would of been yours, but according to USCF rules if a pack overtakes another then it is the responseability of the riders in the overtaking pack to keep it in order. Cat 5 and Cat 4 races will always have lots or wrecks due to inexperance. If you are serious about racing make the move to the 3's as quickly as you can. It's not that big of a jump from the cat 4's and you will learn more.

Chuck


collegekid


Aug 23, 2003, 8:49 PM
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yeah, ride a dirt bike...they're so cheap, convenient, easy to maintain, safe, and environmentally friendly compared with a bicycle. Dirt bikes also get you in shape MUCH faster than bicycles. Dirt bikes are especially handy for those who don't own a truck, have no garage, and live in the city. Yes, i agree. Get a dirt bike.


organic


Aug 23, 2003, 9:01 PM
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WOW, pretty intense story!!!!! THAT WAS AWESOME WHERE DO I SIGN UP!!!! Great job on writting down the experience.


organic


Aug 24, 2003, 8:27 AM
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This is a great story so I'm giving it a bump!


dalai


Aug 25, 2003, 12:41 AM
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Nice read Roughster.

I raced a few local road races a couple of seasons ago over Winter for training. The aggro out on the road was a real surprise coming from a triathlon background, where everyone is far more positive and friendly. Road racing is good training being completely different from TTing. But it's hard to justify competing when people are almost coming to blows out on the course.
That said though I know and train with quite a few road cyclists and they are all really nice guys. But my personal experiences have jaded the sport in my eye's.

Keep up the training.


flyinghatchet


Aug 25, 2003, 4:42 PM
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Moved to the brand-spankin new Trip Reports forum.

GHC


roughster


Aug 25, 2003, 4:43 PM
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Thanks G!


hasbeen


Aug 25, 2003, 5:23 PM
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Nice job, Aaron. First road race is always interesting. Wait til you do a crit. Way easier physically, at least for me, but you wanna see some attitude? Scary!

That guy's an idiot. There are some in every race. Going fast at such close quarters tends to bring out a lot of testosterone. Usually they'll be fine 5 minutes after a race. But a lot of those guys that blow up and are bad drivers and end up causing crashes. Oh well, that's the sport.

You should do San Ardo. It's mellow. If you want some pain, do Santa Cruz also, the next day. It's all up and down.

Have fun, and be awake out there!


caughtinside


Aug 25, 2003, 6:00 PM
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Hah! Comedy!

Of course I personally would have beaten an apology out of you :P


tradmanclimbs


Aug 25, 2003, 6:35 PM
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Thumbs up. Good story 8)


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