Monday, July 14, 2008

“You can’t lead out for the line and win.” Stage 13, TDF 2002 Phil Liggett

Rewind to last year. The biggest Crit of the year, and I was told moments before the race to either change my outfit or get off the course. Stripping down has never been a problem, however I need to work harder at putting things on. By the time I got changed, I had already lost the race.

I’ve been stewing about this for an entire year.

Push Play for this weekend. Redmond Derby days. I didn’t even bother bringing my beloved coveralls. I signed up, pinned my number on and slid into the ‘kit’. I didn’t get the final tally, but it looked like a field of 85+ riders in the 4/5 cat. With the temperature hovering around 85 and a Cash Prize list…this was going to be one ugly race.

Not more than ¾ of the way into the first lap we had causalities. The rounded road reflectors had claimed their first of many victims on the day. During the 40 minutes of racing I saw 2 groups go down in front of me, 1 beside me, and heard a couple more behind me. By the end I was just hoping I’d still be upright.

Mid way through the race a group of 3 broke off the front. It looked like fun, and a good group of 4 could put a gap on the main group. So I bridged up, told the group to jump on my wheel and layed on the accelerator. With my eyes forward I assumed they had done just that. So when I gave a flick of my arm a lap later asking for someone else to take a pull I was bummed to find out there was no one behind me. Not wanting to take a solo flyer with another 20 minutes of racing, I sat up and waited. While I was waiting to be re-absorbed I took a moment to 'work' the crowd. Channeling the great Hulk Hogan I placed my hand at my ear, and started throwing my hands in the air.
Once back in the pack I settled in for the remainder of the race, and bid my time till the closing laps. With 3 laps to go the local “Rabbit Team” (they approach racing with the philosophy that if one rider is good, if we put 15 in each category we should be great) sent a rider off the front and placed another at the front of the pack to slow things down for him. This looked like it was going to work so with one lap to go I stood on my pedals and went for it.

Once the first two turns were navigated and back stretch loomed in front of me I heard a rider behind me say “Keep it up, we can do this!”
WE?! There was no WE in this move. This guy wanted to sit on my wheel and try and snag me at the line. So, I don't know why, but I started to crank harder.
We rounded the last corner and began the long sprint to the finish line. I passed the break away rider with 50m to go and saw the WE rider make his move.

As he started to come around me I stood on my pedals and accelerated one last time with everything that was left in my legs. As we stabbed our bikes at the line I heard the announcer say “Whoa, I’m not going to try and make the call on that one.”

I threw my hand in the air and saw second place hang his head. We both knew.

A million thanks to Amara at Wheels In Focus for showing up to these races week in and week out. Some more thanks to Amara for bringing me to the realization that the sun hasn't been out very much up here, and I really need a tan! More photos can be found here.


Anonymous said...

Never heard the term, "rabbit team", before. Why is a team with a lot of participating members a bad thing?

BF kemyooter said...

I just made the term up. It's not a bad thing. I'm always psyched to see people racing, and a team that is willing sponsor that many riders is awesome. It just comes from me being a lone, unsponsored rider. When you're on your own and have to battle against so many 'team members' it becomes a little tuff.

Anonymous said...

Nice work Sally. Nice to see the PB&J gloves are still kickin. I actually raced my ss 29er this weekend and realized that pre-riding (never did that when we rode together, too late and hung over) an 11 mile loop immediately before riding 2 more isn't a good idea when your normal training is the 5 miles to and from work with the occasional mile to the liquor store. Finished 20 sec off 5th in sport, but could've finished 5th in expert with the same time - talk about sand baggers.

Todd said...

Nice bike throw, Winner.

Seriously, way to throw down the gauntlet.

Well played sir. Well played.

Ryan said...

Congrats on the win Brian. It sounds like that race was crazy.

ChrisB. said...


I still don't understand the rule book thing though. Other than the "F" in USCF does not stand for "Fun."

Brian said...

"Rabbit Team" is freak'in great. You need to coin that one! Blocking is a weak way to win so it's great to see that you made it through. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hey smart guy a few pointers

#1 - You're a CAT 4 with a blog = sad, save the complaining until you're a CAT 1.

#2 - You where a Cat 5 for 2 years - Heres your bag of sand would you like a recipt? (2nd place CAT 5 in Olympia LAST YEAR)

#3 - It's a team sport and no one was blocking that race and you know it. There are pictures for crying out loud. If you don't have the legs or cornering skill to move up don't point fingers.

#4 That "rabbit team" has wins and top 10's from 9 different riders all the way up to CAT 1/2. Lot's of sprints, solo breakaway's you name it.

#5 - The socially inept should stick to individual sports like tri's, marathons ect.

ChrisB. said...


Are you actually implying that bike racers are socially adept? No one in their right mind would ever claim this.

I've spent 15+ years as a semi-pro musician and yet the most self-absorbed, socially inept people I've ever spent any time with were bike racers. If I had more time I'd tell you all about my experience at a USA Cycling development training camp in the early 90s. Let's just leave it at the fact that I was the only one who brought reading material not written by Eddy B. And I was one of a select few (other than the Russian Junior Hockey Team) to call my girlfriend daily.

Mind you, I love the sport all the same, I'm just being honest.

It used to be that people who didn't want to dedicate their entire lives to bike racing could run in the "Citizens" category, but since the USCF all but did away with that, Cat 5 is all that's left for people who also enjoy spending some time with their wives, girlfriends, and children.

"The strongest man in the world is the one that stands most alone."
-Henrik Ibsen, five time grand tour winner-

BF kemyooter said...

1) I don't think I was complaining. It was merely a race report from my saddle. (I'm a cat 4 with a blog...that you're reading and commenting on)
2)This is my second year racing, true. I have requested an upgrade, (twice) and been turned down by the USCF. They state I need to do a minimum number of races.
3) I saw a guy sitting up at the front. So did the guy in the Novara kit, we were right next to each other when he decided to take over the front and try and reel the breakaway guy back.
4) I have several friends on that team. Quite a few that were around with their previous sponsor. It's a really strong team, and they'll continue to do well.
5) Those sound fun too. Think they'll let me wear my coveralls?

sherry said...

I have one word for you:


next one's on me!

Bobby said...


Um... do you really know what you're taking about?

To counter your cunning observations and criticisms...

#1 We all know the biggest whiners are Cat 3's. Also, I'd hate to see the ridiculing comments you leave on blogs that aren't written by cyclists.

#2 To upgrade from a 5 to 4, a minimum of 10 races must be completed. For someone such as Sally who has better things to do do over a weekend such as drinking beer eating donuts, and not wearing spandex doing 10 races can easily take a couple seasons.

Besides wasn't the race a 4/5 race? How could Sally be sandbagging considering he was racing against higher category racers?

#3 Did you even read his race report? The guy WON. Obviously he had the legs to move up all the way to being the first guy to finish.

#4 Bragging about ONLY 9 guy's racing success spread over 5 different categories really isn't something to brag about and is just sad. Take a look at the results of Velo Club La Grange sometime.

#5 How's YOUR triathlon and marathon training been going?

ChrisB. said...

On a serious note (and for the sake of any Raleigh Senior Managers who monitor this blog), the reason I love this blog is because it's written by and for people who truly, deeply, and without pretense, love riding bicycles. We need more of that.

Also, while those coveralls may be illegal, there is in fact no rule requiring a UCI Continental license to blog.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

I just think it's funny when a guy shows up in coveralls and open a can o whop ass. So much for aerodynamics! We're not getting paid people, it's supposed to be fun (and Chris is having a lot of that). Why are road bikers always so angry?