Saturday, May 05, 2007

Tete de la Course

The last couple of years I’ve found myself kinda lookin’ forward to Iowa City weekend. For those of you not familiar with Iowa City, it is home to the infamous University of Iowa Squakeyes. It’s a pretty cool college town with a really cool vibe, especially on the weekend of the Iowa City bike races.
My plan was to do the road race and it would be a game time decision for the crit. Shim was driving through DSM from Omahole so he stopped by my pad, I threw all of my junk in his car and we hit the road for Iowa City. Shim is only a couple of years older than I am but his bodily functions are like those of a 70 year old man. We must have stopped 10 maybe 15 times so the guy could take a leak.
We rode into the land of the Amish folk about two hours before the start of the race so we had some time to kill. I walked around and bs’d with a few folks that I hadn’t seen in a while, always a good time! About an hour before the start of the race, word started to spread that Steve Tilford, Bill Stolte and Brian Jensen, three pro’s from Kansas, were wandering around he venue. Yeah, the P/1/2 class was in for a lot of pain and suffering.
The weather was actually pretty good for this time of the year with temps in the 70’s and a slight breeze of about 90 mph coming out the west. We lined up for the start and I took inventory of the field. The main players for the cat 3’s were all present, Nathan Moenck, Matt Landen, Josh Madsen, Tracy Thompson and a few others. We rolled onto the course at a pretty mellow pace and the pace remained mellow for the first half of a lap. So I took this time to chat it up with Tracy, Matt, Nathan and anybody else that felt like doin’ a little bs’n. The first half of the lap was pretty much all tail wind and we were flyin’ along at around 30mph with the HR hovering around 130. We turned the corner heading back to the start / finish area and the head wind hit us like a wall. I kept my nose out of the wind as much as possible while also trying to avoid getting myself into any kind of trouble with other riders getting beat up by the wind.
As we were rolling through a cross wind, somebody near the front of the peloton must have gotten caught out by a strong gust. Everybody behind reacted and I was at the arse end of the ripple effect. My front wheel got into Shim’s back wheel. I almost recovered but ended up hitting the deck. Thankfully I kinda saw it coming and was able to minimize the loss of skin. Two other riders stacked it up behind me and went down also. I made a quick assessment for damage and quickly realized that my bike was still intact. I picked myself up off the ground, remounted my stead and was able to reintegrate with the peloton. A few of my bro’s in the peloton were kind enough to tell the others in the group to sit up until we were able to catch back up. Once I made it back to the peloton, A few people asked if I was OK, pretty cool stuff… one of the many reasons that I love bike racing. I took another look at my bike and myself to see what kind of damage I did. Lost a little skin on my knee and even though I couldn’t see my arse, I could tell that I did a little sliding on it. I didn’t rip my shorts so it didn’t seem like it would be that bad. I also noticed that my fork had a little damage, though it looked like it was only on the surface.
We made it through the first lap and I could feel the aggression of a few others coming on. I was looking forward to the attacks to break the group up a little because things were getting pretty sketchy with the way the wind was blowin’. We turned the corner into the trail wind and all hell started breakin’ loose. I’m not sure who it was but the first of several attacks were uncorked and the end result of the initial attacks was a break away of six. The group consisted of Nathan Moenck, Matt Landen, Tracy Thompson, Josh Madsen, myself and some dude from Indiana. We work well together and the breakaway stuck. As we were flyin’ down the road I made a point to observe the others in attempt to see who had game. Everybody looked pretty strong with the exception of the cat from Indiana. He had a cassette on his bike that looked more like a dinner plate and whenever we hit the tail wind he lagged behind because he ran out of gears.
During the third lap Nathan started to drift towards the back of the group and was looking at his bike like something was wrong. Shortly after that I heard the familiar crack of a tire puncture. Matt and I kind of found ourselves in somewhat of a moral dilemma. Over the last couple of road races, we seemed to have formed an ‘unofficial’ alliance. Matt and I looked at each other and asked, ‘do we wait or go’. Needless to say, the others in the breakaway were more than happy to keep the hammer down as we were down to five and all of us were in the money. Matt and I had no choice but to continue.

The five man break. Check out Tracy, he looks really fast.

The five of us stayed together to the finish and we were looking at a five man sprint. There were a few attacks over the last 1000 yards and the cat from Indiana got shelled. So now it was down to four for the sprint. At about 200 yards out, Matt jumped. I responded only to have my chain drop from my 53 down to my 39… game over. Matt ended up winning, Tracy came in 2nd followed by Josh for 3rd and I ended up 4th.
Needless to say, I have mixed emotions about the result. Crashing sucks, my fork was cracked so I had to buy a new one. I lost some skin and I had a raspberry the size of a grapefruit on my arse. I lost a sprint that I had decent legs for due to a mechanical issue. That’s all a part of bike racing though and I still love the sport and am very thankful that I can do what I do on a bike. All is good.
I decided to skip the crit as my fork was cracked and didn’t feel the need to risk the loss of more skin. I had a great time hanging with my buds, TJ and tPod, watching some bike racing, eating ice cream, enjoying the weather and bs’n with others. The cycling culture in Iowa contains people from all walks of life and it’s a cool group to hang with whether I’m riding or watching.

The finish. That's me off the back sprinting in my 39, I look really slow.

Next up is another dirty double with the second race of the Psycowpath series on Saturday and IMBCS #2 on Sunday.

Thanks for reading,


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