Arrived at the last second and found out the race sponsors comped our fees for this race (woohoo!). Saw several friends who hadn't raced in a while such as Luke "The Kusch" Kuschmeader and Alan "The Man" Rosen, as well as the SBC regulars Jeff "The Italian Stallion" Del Vecchio, Neil "Cycling Crazy" Chanter, Ben "You are Beautiful" Stringer, and many more.
It was warm, but fortunately I had my secret helmet with packing tape over the vents to make sure I didn't get cold. And it's more aero that way. Need to figure out a way to funnel sweat out the back to pour into other peoples' faces.
I have only raced one other Waffle race this season - the one where a torrential downpour greeted us as we began. Leery of getting in a wreck, or more likely causing a wreck, I hung off the back that race and got a good workout in rather than competing with the pack on the slick roads.
I'd guess about 20-25 of us started together in the B race last night. For newbies, B stands for "we are too afraid to race with the A's." The SBC team jersey was well represented in both races; it was really fun being on a team and being able to identify who to work with.
If you read my post from last year's waffle race, you'll understand that bike racing involves a lot of strategy. It's like chess on wheels, with the addition of sweat, cursing, and loogies.
I was a lot less nervous this time that last year but still wasn't 100% sure about when to try to break away, slow down the pack, etc...basically how to best help my team. Bike racing is eerily quiet too. You have 25 guys and gals riding pretty fast and all you have is heavy breathing. Being a talker, the silence really got to me so I jabbered the whole time. It was probably annoying.
The first lap started at a reasonable speed - maybe 21mph?. The pack hung together the whole time. We had a medium wind from the west so it got strung out heading west on AA but no one really wanted to make any breaks. Jeff pulled a "Del Vecchio" of course, which means pulling too much and tiring himself out. I sat in the back and just tried to stay safe and within reach of everyone.
We hit the dam(n) hill at the end of the lap and spun up medium hard. Nothing too fancy...I think my Strava segment split said 50 seconds. Not in the stratosphere of Brad Huff's leading 30 second split, and not close to my former leading 31 second split either.
You might ask how I rode 31 seconds up the hill and had a KOM over guys like Jason Stratton and Dathan Atchison? Well, I crashed in a Du Series race in 2012 and got a car ride back to HQ. Left the garmin on without thinking about it. Uploaded the workout and...Voila! King of the Mountain. Had that baby for several months until Brad Huff noticed that I cheated because my HR going up the hill was approximately 70 beats per minute. Oops.
The real kings of the mountain on the Dam(n) Hill.
You might also ask what is Strava? Well, let me tell you. Strava is a really neat way for people who are stupidly over competitive to get their rocks off on a daily basis. It's an app on your phone that you can use to record rides and runs.
My Waffle race ride summary via Strava on my iphone. You click on the little trophy to see how you did on various segments you encountered in the ride as well as any PR's set
People can designate stretches of road as "segments" and see who has the best time on that stretch. Strava then lets you see where you stand. There are tons of segments in town so you can totally dork out over this. Warning: if you take it too seriously or cheat to get higher standings, you become known as a Strava Douche.
Don't be a douche.
So the second lap started and I remember Neil saying in a "pump up email" to SBC-ers a few days ago, "We've got to make some breaks, mates. Jason Holland and I are going off the bloody front at some point. Don't cock it up and pull the pack up to us." Something like that. It sounded very British in the email.
So I decided to shake things up and went off the front about a mile into the second lap. I wasn't planning for it to stick so went off half heartedly...maybe 23-24mph. The pack didn't really care and I wish I'd have put more effort into it so make some of them work harder. Just for the fun of it.
They caught me in a mile or so at the marina, we avoided the fishermen who obviously think we are idiots, and we went up the hill fairly easily. It was about this time I think that Neil, the Italian Stallion, and another SBC-er hit the gas. Stringer and I were at the front of the pack but by the time we pulled our heads out of our butts and realized we needed to slow down the pack to create a gap, they gave up the effort. Let's blame Stringer.
This is where the fishermen fish. They have a silly habit of walking across the road without looking. It's like they own the place. Don't they know a bike race is going on? And that we own the place?
Neil looked like he wanted to make a go again and I got up beside him but he didn't respond to my question of us hitting the gas. Or maybe he did and I didn't hear him. A firecracker blew up by my ear as a kid so the left side isn't very good.
The pack was together as we started going west on AA again, and again it strung out to single file due to the wind. I was in about the 3rd position with a couple of non SBC-ers. I made another couple of moves off the front, which this guy in dark green covered annoyingly well. At that point, I said screw it and decided to wait for the dam(n) hill to put out a big effort. I knew we had Jason Stratton in good position, and since he'd won the last couple of Waffles on the hill, we seemed good. We had several others in the front 1/3 of the pack as well.
We turned at the school and several people accelerated a bit. I was suddenly back to 8th or so with Jason, Neil, The Italian Stallion, and Stringer all ahead of me. Uneventful next couple of miles but we were moving fast with all the downhills. Made it through the steep downhill and S curve safely. Still no one really hit it yet. I toyed with making a break at the right turn like I did last year but remembered that was really, really painful. Jens Voigt says you win zero percent of the breaks you don't take, but then again he's "mother-$@#&ing Jens Voigt" after all. Video
So we kept it smooth until the dam(n) hill. We hit the base of the hill and I wondered why the people close to me me weren't going all out. It seemed that was the case anyway. There were no tongues wagging or bikes swinging wildly back and forth. We were riding hard for sure, but just not all out. Then I looked ahead and saw Stratton and Stringer steadily pulling away. Stratton out of the saddle and definitely looking like he was giving it all. Stringer seated beside him - working hard, but in a different way. Fun to see the contrasting styles. Both were fast...I think I saw Stratton's split via Strava was 35 seconds. Ben pulled ahead at the top and they finished 1-2 (Ben-Jason).
The happy champion, Ben Stringer
Around the time I saw those guys hitting it, I decided it was time to go hard too so I gunned it and passed a few people. Green dude was ahead in 3rd but too far away to catch him. I crested and made up some ground toward the finish but it came down to waiting too long to push the hill. Jill Tillman got Neil at the top of the hill and they finished 5-6. Results
Second lap low 28 minutes. Avg speed 22.4mph for the race. Still slower than we should have gone but bike racing can be tactical. And people don't like hurting.
So Ben "You are Beautiful" Stringer takes the win. What was his secret? Possibly his lone shaved leg? I don't even want to know how that happened but I'm afraid to ask his wife. And I'm definitely not dropping by their house after dark.
Dathan Atchison took the A race win, with Ben Rogers 2nd and Scott "Judge" Sifferman 4th. 1st, 2nd, 4th in both races going to SBC.
So that's it. No crashes, everyone had fun, and my secret packing tape helmet worked like a charm. Didn't get cold at all.
Looking forward to more of these next year.
Oh yeah, Stringer asked for me to take some more pictures of him and post them in some internet chat rooms. Personally, I think it was a weird request but he is a nice guy so here goes.
So fresh and so clean!