Da Faja And Other Racing Tales

28 May

Those of you as sophomoric as I will recall with a chuckle, the seminal Austin Powers movie, ‘Gold Member.’ (I hope you caught the pun in that first sentence). You’ll recall that Powers travels back in time in a souped up  vintage 70s caddy, resplendent in his Pimp Daddy attire, landing in Studio 69, owned by none other than Gold Member, himself. Gold Member, of Sve-e-e-e-dish descent, has a very peculiar accent that sounded like this when Austin was captured and taken to a back room where is father was being held captive (by two or three lovely young kittens): Da Fa-ja….. and now de Pro-di-gal Shon. Later, in the presence of Dr. Evil, Gold Member peels away a shred of skin and leers, ‘Ooooooh, datz a keepah.’

What in the hell does any of this have to do with racing, you might ask? On Saturday the 18th Deb and I participated in the Ft. Harrison Triathlon/Duathlon as a duathlon team. Deb ran 1K, I rode 11 miles, and then Deb ran 5K. The race promoter from American Multi-Sport, is headed up by a very Sve-e-e-e-dish sounding man who bears and eerie resemblance to Gold Member and sounds exactly like the villian. As you can guess, I couldn’t stop saying, ‘Da Fa-ja.’ Nor could I stop laughing at the thought of the old guy pulling his leg up such that his ankle touched his ear while rolling around the parking lot on roller skates. (Datz da vay, uh huh-uh huh, I vlike it). Apparently, the old man must have been aware of my self amusement because he scolded me for warming up in the bike transition area.

The race was delayed by nearly 30 minutes because no volunteers had shown up to marshall the corners at the fairly busy northeast side ot town. A light drizzle and cool temps caused athletes to cool down during the wait period. I grew frustrated with the shivering wait and began softly pedaling through the transition area as there was no one else in it because Deb and I were the only team in the team competition. Thusly scolded, I rode an 11 mile TT on leaden legs. This was definitely: O-o-o-o-h, Datz NOT a keepah.” Nonetheless, Deb and I enjoyed the event, including the free beer from Triton Brewery after the race (at 10:00 a.m.! – hey, it was noon somewhere).

Deb has been competing in a Planet Adventure Triple Crown and has placed 3rd in her age group in the first two events, including last Saturday’s 8K run through the trails at Eagle Creek Park. Like many of the B.I.T. winter training participants, Deb says the intervals over the winter have prepared her well for the diverse challenges of her various races.

In other B.I.T. athlete news, Adam Perler has been racing to qualify for Masters National Track Championships in Indianapolis this summer. So far, Adam has garnered two 3rd places and two second place finishes. He’s also qualified for the Festival of Speed tournament held this summer at the velodrome. Those of you who partook of winter training will recall our flying 200 meter intervals: 10 sec in Z5, 10 sec in Z6 and 10 sec in Z7. We did those for Adam’s benefit – it appears they are paying off.

Preston Conrad raced Masters 60+ in Chicago last Saturday, finishing in 8th place on the day. The Chicago event is a long running event hosted by Athletes By Design (ABD Cycling) of Chicago, called ABD Masters weekend, with the focus being on us old farts. The races are held in an industrial park in Wood Dale, on the western edges of Chicago with Saturday and Sunday being run on a short course that undulates with a downhill sweeping turn 1 that carries through turn 2 where the road grades up at a slight ascent, curves to the right and then levels at the final turn for home with a nice, 200 meter downhill finish. But before I get to my own racing in Chicago, I also raced the Ft. Wayne Criterium on Saturday.

Congrats to Court Maple who won the Masters 40+ event in dominating fashion. Court went off the front early, was reeled in, and went again with 11 laps to go, growing his gap over the final 10 laps to win in fine style. Court hails from Ft. Wayne, so this was a sveet win for him.

The Masters 50+ followed the 40+. 18 riders took the start line, some of whom rode the 40+ race. Four of us animated the race; Todd Anderson of Men of Steel Racing, Mark Swartzendruber of Scarlet Fire, John Schmitz of Indie Bike, and myself. The four of us took turns attacking with the other three reeling the solo rider in. Unfortunately, a bulk of the small field was able to maintain contact with the agressive bridging faction, thus bringing it all together a number of times.

Late in the race Anderson and one other rider slipped away. Swartzendruber took a deep dig, brining us close and I came by to finish the catch. We had 4 of us off the front, but the pesky pack just latched on with 3 laps to go. John Schmitz jumped out of turn two and held his gap to the line for a nice win. Out of position, I battled through traffic to finish 4th.

I arrived to Wood Dale on Sunday with a different mind set. I felt I did not race aggressively enough on Saturday so I planned to ride ultra aggressive on Sunday and Monday. Thankfully, another Scarlet Fire racer, Mark Sills, had the same idea. In the Masters 50+ (combined with 55+ and women’s fields), we had a large field of perhaps, 50 riders total. Sills took off from the gun, opening a nice gap. Myself and three others were quick to respond. After Sills’ explosive start, I took up the pace and then it was Sills again, coming through. He and I drove the pace for the opening 3 laps, by which time our group had grown to 10 with 8 very hesitant riders.

A lot of times racers don’t want to fully commit to the inital break of the race, thinking it might be caught and they will have burned too many matches. But after 3 laps of trading pulls with me, Sills and I both gave a glare to the rest of the bunch that said, ‘Do some work or you’re gonna get shelled.’ It seemed to work as the rest of the group began rotating through in a smooth fashion, although it can be noted some took longer (better) pulls than others. Within 17 minutes of the 50 minute race, our group had lapped the field.

I was chagrined by this b/c I did not want the group to mess up a final sprint for the win. With 10 riders a lap up it can be difficult for officials to sort out the placings. So as we approached the lapped field I floored it and rode right through the bunch, forcing the pace. My break companions were quick to respond, towing the field with them, but the pace remained animated with lapped riders trying to sneak away. In particular, Tom Doughty of Scarlet Fire, made two or three hard break attempts.

I wasn’t letting anyone go, though and at one point, one of my break companions said to me, ‘You know he’s a lap down.’ I did not care. Being from out of town, I did not who was who and did not want to chance letting one of my break companions get away. The official gave a prime with 4 laps to go. Gary Doering, a former olympian who is coming back from a terrible injury suffered in racing last year, jumped for the prime and took it easily. I gave chase, as if to feign going for the prime, but what I was really doing was opening a gap to hopefully, initate another break from the big bunch.

Doering sat up after taking his prime, but I carried on and my strategy worked. Sills was quick to respond, along with 4 others of our break away group, forming a 6 man group for the final 3 laps. Sills was strong and smooth in our final 3 laps. Mark McGeen of Team Mack and Wisconsin, was also very strong those final 3 laps. He won the previous day’s race, so he was a rider to contend with. Sills led to the final ascent when a couple of riders attacked from behind. McGeen covered the moves and landed in front heading into the final turn. I jumped just after the turn and held the lead to the line.

I joined the 40+ race immediately following the 50+ race. The field had 50 or more riders. I was active through the first 18 minutes of the race, even (stupidly) attacking after lap 1. But the old legs were not as willing in the second race on the day and third of the weekend. By 20 minutes into the 50 minute affair, I’d had enough of taking the wind, so I rode back in the draft to finish out this one, placing 20th at the end.

Post racing, Deb and I enjoyed the company of Tom Lobdell, Allen Galloway and Bill Stone at Marino’s Italian restaurant. We enjoyed a fabulous pizza and too many beers to count. It was learned that Stone has become engaged to a lovely lady. We wish Bill all the best in his forthcoming marriage.

Having lots of racing in the legs I knew I’d need a thorough warm up Monday morning. We were up and turning in our key by 8:30 for the short drive over the course and the 10:30 a.m. start. Upon turning in our key we briefly visited with a weary Stone, Galloway, and long time friend, Kent Menzel. All three slumped over the buffet table with coffee cups in hand and wondered how I could be up and ready so soon. The trio made quite a sight and I coined them The Breakfast Club. I explained that being old, I can’t just roll out of bed and race a third day in a row without loosening the legs.

As soon as I began pedaling I knew I had assessed correctly. My legs felt like lead. So I took a long, liesurely approach, just pedaling softly around the extended (1.6 mile) circuit when it was open, and through a nearby parking lot when racing was on-going. The Monday course featured a longer ascent, which was to my liking. Over the course of my warm up I could feel my legs loosening, gaining the sensations needed for racing. By the time the race started, I still felt fatigued, but determined.

Instead of my B.I.T. kit, I wore the Team Treachery & Deceit kit that honors Karl Raynor. Last week was the one year anniversary of his passing. We all miss him and I felt like it was a way to honor his passing by wearing the kit Adam designed as a tribute to Karl. When the race began I took the front at a tempo pace and no one bothered coming by. I led for perhaps a lap and a half when some wise acre remarked, ‘You’re doing great, keep it up!’ (Insert Dikembe Mutombo finger wave here). Someone finally attacked shortly thereafter and the pace remained hot for a lap. Approaching the ascent again, the pace stymied so I attacked and opened a gap. As I came across the line the officials rang the bell to announce a prime for the next lap. I figured I was out there so I’d keep going long enough to secure the prime.

I ended up opening about a 20 second gap that I held for several miles. The cross winds and previous racing prevented the legs from going any faster and after those several miles, the group led by Sills again, reeled me in. At this point, less than 20 minutes remained in the race and cautious riding took over. Two men in the 55+ category rolled off the front on the uphill and no one responded. About half way up the hill I jumped hard to make the bridge. No one got on with me, so when I arrived I told the pair, ‘Let’s go.’

One of the riders eventually fell out. I saw that he was laboring and offered to nurse him along, but he came out anyway. Richard Krueztfelder was my other companion and he was a tough old bird, having already raced the 60+ race on the day and was competing in his 6th race of the weekend! Richard initally was hesitant to work b/c he did not realize we had a gap, but when he saw that we had a gap he dug in and took nice pulls. We eventually opened a gap of over 30 seconds.

On the final lap Richard acknowledged that he was gassed and couldn’t do much more. Seeing that he was in the older category and that no one was in sight behind, I told him just hang on. To his credit, Richard still came through for short pulls on that final lap. As we approached the final turn and seeing no one within striking distance I jumped to secure the win. Richard took 2nd and was awarded first in the 55+ age group.

Once again, I encourage the Indy area racers to go over to Illinois and the Chicago area to race. Fields are typically much larger than our own, with many more racers willing to take the race by the horns, like Mark Sills.

In summary about this weekend, all I can say is, ‘Now datz a keepah.’

 

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