Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hillsboro Report

Hillsboro-Roubaix was a much bigger race than even I expected. I should have known when the fields for Cat 4 and Cat 5 filled within a few minutes of registration opening.

With the recent job situation being what it is I had done some bike work on MJH2's bike after the wreck leading JF out during Kenosha to help cover the room cost for the Hillsboro trip. I drove starship Psimet down there with MJH2 on board.

My mother grew up in a little town near Hillsboro (Piasa) so I am fairly familiar with the area (MJH2 and I pulled the Model A out of a barn near there in Jan.). We got down there early enough to register on Friday and pre-ride the course. First impression....holy crap these roads are narrow. Centerline rule??!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

We got to pre-ride the course with Marc Moeller (cat 2) of Northbranch and Rob Kelley (cat 1) on our team. They spent a lot of time pointing out some of the courses highlights. The pre-ride was extremely valuable, but in the end I think that I spent too much energy doing it.

In general they ran the registration of the race beautifully. It took all of about 5 seconds to register and get my number. We went into town after we registered and had a wonderful meal at a converted church. JF made it into town and met up with us. I told myself I was sticking to water, but with the festive atmosphere and some nice looking Hacker Pschorr I quickly found myself indulging.

It was a total bike racing trip - 3 of us crashing in the room. It was MJH2's room and JF wasn't about to sleep on the floor so he and I ended up sharing a bed. I slept OK so he must be pretty good at spooning.

When I woke up I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Almost like I had a hangover even though I hardly drank anything. I think it was just dehydration. That's bad before a bike race.

We headed over to a Denny's for breakfast - pancakes and a couple of eggs before heading over to the start. There were so many cyclists milling around the local hotels and haunts. Everyone was sizing everyone else up. It quickly became apparant that the riders here meant business....and that we were the fatest ones in town.

Once at the start we got pinned up, geared up and started milling around. We pre-rode the hills a couple of times to get the blood flowing. The air was thick with the scent of chamois cream, nerves and a hint of nuts - most likely due to the immense amount of shelling that was about to occur.

The staging was a nightmare....for everyone else but us. They lined everyone up together in the street. That meant we stuck our noses up on the end of the P/1/2 field which was going off first so that we would be in front when the 4;s were eventually called up. It woked beautifully and we ended up where we usually are - up front in the middle.

I had that sick tension in me just before the start. At that moment I wanted to do anything else other than race a bike - especially if it meant I was going to be able to go pee.....I ha to go sooooooo bad. Before we knew it "ridersreadyGO!" and we were off.

I was able to get into my pedals and was in the first 5-6 guys on the front. The field for the 4's was 100 deep. Seriously. These roads were narrower than some of the freshman men only dorm rooms we had at Purdue and there was a centerline rule. It was definitely an example of 10 pounds of poop in a 5 pound bag.

There was idle chit chat and some touching and bumping as we went - to be expected. I was able to work my position fairly well and stayed up in the first 10 guys for the majority of the first lap (22 miles). There were some highlights - like one of the local guys from the Christian based club/team who went on a hate filled tirade that if I recall correctly included some choice 4 letter words. He was hopping mad that someone passd him on the right...when the there was definitely room to do so. Really I think he was just PO'd because he was popping and starting to get shelled.He didn't stick around long enough for us to find out for sure.

The wind became a factor in the last few miles of the first lap. I found myself on the wind side of the crosswind and really worked hard to maintain position. I just couldn't get into anyone's draft and out of the wind. The whole time I was just hemoraging energy.

As we turned into the wind to go into town and hit the first of the three successive climbs I decided I needed to conserve energy and spin up it in the small ring. Whoa...wrong choice. It was like I hit reverse. Everyone else pounded it on that hill and I found I over-reved like a poorly driven import race car and popped my motor. I sat up and knew my day was done instantly. It sucked.

As I was sliding back through the pack I started to get an idea for how far up I had truly been and how big the field really was. It was disgustingly huge. As I viewed the back of the pack and the carnage that was spent racers flying off the back with me I experienced a strange moment of "WTF"...I had to get back on.

So on the next downhill I latched on to the back of another rider off the back and drew myself back into the field(see the video of me doing just that in the previous post). Once there we hit the feed zone hill which made me limit out again and then we hit the big climb in town. I had nothing. As I climbed on in shame I saw a supporter along the side of the road with a Beverly Bike jersey on and yelled, "Hey! Don't tell Bob from Beverly that I popped like this!"

It was there that I started pondering cutting the race short and only doing 1 lap. Then I remembered that I didn't have a vagina. I drove down there and had the whole day...I was finishing the course.

Soon after the start/finish line and the start of the second lap I ended up with a group of guys that got shelled as well. It was like the island of misfit toys. The group was filled with big guys and I felt like we were all members of some weight loss challenge gone horribly wrong.

Don't know how many of you have raced with xXx riders, but if you've done much of it you know what they can be like. There was one in the mix and he decided that it was his duty to become self appointed ride leader and educator. I'm surprised the sound of my eyes rolling didn't drown out his instructions to the other riders in the group about how to ride in a paceline with a cross wind.

Of particular annoyance was the group's tendancy to want to ride slowly until I would end up going to the front and picking up the pace - then they would punch it as I pulled off. Total rookie moves and totally annoying. I also felt at times like I was the only one who remembered it was still a race - not a Sunday ride.

As we came rolling into town for our second time I looked up and saw MJH2 languishing in front of us in no-man's land just suffering in the wind. I watched him kill himself for a long time as we slowly pulled him in. I couldn't bear to see it anymore and went to the front to bridge up to him. I got a snyde "you don't chase your teammate" comment from the peanut gallery but could only think of 2 things - 1 - we were racing for what had to be 60-something who cares, and 2 - MJH2 was much better company than the guys in that group for sure.

Sure enough as I got to him we started talking and the others decided to attack. All I could do was laugh inside. Up the final climb we saw a rider at the side of the hill stopped no doubt because of cramping. MJH2 made a quick "I feel your pain buddy" kind of joke and then locked up solid. Seriously. I have never seen anyone lock out their legs with cramps like that before. I continued...though about stopping but didn't....realized I was going to beat MJH2 - which is always something that makes the little psimet voice inside me happy. Then I felt bad for feeling happy so I felt the need to try to motivate him as I rode away. I yelled something about being able to smell his female body parts. He didn't find it amusing.

Then I bombed the brick section to roll across the line in a 1-man sprint for 66th place. The suck was strong with me that day.

After that I changed, ate and awated the arrival of the rest of our teammates. Turns out JF placed 2nd in the cat 5 race in a breakaway they stuck from 5 miles in. That boy is going places I tell you. He was in the feed zone passing bottles to our 1/2 racers who were putting in 88 miles of hatred.

The organizers kept calling for JF over the PA when I realized they wanted to do a podium shot. I tried to call JF and wasn't able to get him so I started making my way over to the podium to tell the presenters where JF was. As I approached they were putting some guy who was standing near there in JF's spot as a stand in. I ran up saying JF was in the feedzone and wouldn't be able to make it. They asked if I was on his team. I said they asked me to stand in.

So.....I was on the podium. 2nd place. Cat 5. Probably the only podium shot I will ever get. It was fun. Thanks JF.

Our 1/2 guys did well. Kelley came in 20-something with the pack. JD soon after. Ara came in a little after that. He talked to us a bit and then went to sit in his car. I heard Brian Conant ask Ara if he was OK. I went over to ask him the same and he brushed me off saying he'd be alright in a minute.

We left and hit the road. Called Ara to see if he wanted to join us for dinner on the road and found out that Conant had to call the ambulance on Ara because of his level of dehydration. He ended up coming through with observation and ended up OK but he really pushed his luck on that one. The day was deceivingly set up for hydration problems.

A big thanks goes out to Brian Conant for his keen eye and quick reaction to Ara's condition. Thanks my man! And I get the half-wheeler award of shame for leaving without finding out if Ara was truly OK.

So....long story short. I'm still fat and slow although skinnier and much faster than last year. I have also realized that I will always be too fat for this sport.

1 comment:

BBVP-Bob said...

After reading about your race and few others thatraced, I decided that it might have been for the best that I didn’t make it into the field. Because I would have been right with you or on the podium in the fives, I would have not let JF out of my site. He would have been thinking who is this fat guy sucking my wheel? Hope to see you at Vernon Hills.