As if on cue, the Post Epic Depression set in this week. I talked it over with a couple friends and I think most of the problem comes from living in an empty house. You just don't get to tell the really detailed stories to your buddies when attention spans are limited so the finite highlights that serve to carry the stoke of an epic trip or experience never get told and I start to question if it was really that epic at all. When you don't have someone around at the end of the day asking, "Wow, I can't believe you were there, what was it like?" or "So tell me again about the bears, whales and otters...and the quiet morning with that bird..." it can fade all too quickly. It's hard not to button up the memory, pack it away and move onto the tasks at hand but if that happens I think there's some beauty that is lost and it makes me feel really lonely sometimes. I used to revel in my independence and solitude, how things change when you get older.
So what's a guy to do? Get back on the bike! Of course I picked the first day of real rain in the mid Atlantic region in weeks to go for a ride with Eatough but it still got me out of the house yesterday and put a smile on my mug. It had been a while since I rode with Chris and even on a slower 'spin' day the guy is quick.
The rain forced us off the trails, onto the road where we found a turtle waiting to get run over. Chris relocated it to the stream bank near his old house off Oella.
We finished our spin at a coffee shop in Ellicot City near his old house.
We ended up sipping coffee and chatting longer than we were on the bikes but what the hell, my legs feel great and at this point there's no use in overdoing it. Plus it was really good to catch up with Chris without having to film or worry about my heart rate. I just wish I brought money to score a cinnamon roll.
Today is another rainy day. Good for the land, bad for this camper's PED. So I'll drift back 3 weeks to the quick trip to Rochester for the big crit race. I got 2nd last year as a cat 5 and it was my first real crit so I was stoked. This year I signed up for the cat 3/4 race and wondered how I'd fare against 3's which are one cat down from semi-pro. I'm still not too savvy with all the road cats but I think that's correct. I really like racing on road bikes and have had much better results but I also like to poke fun at roadies because, well, they're roadies. I get a kick when a pro mt. biker jumps into a road race and blows people away (Take Todd Wells finishing 19th in last year's Tour of Georgia) but if you throw a roadie into a mt. bike race, unless it's Lance or Floyd who both raced mt. for years - let's just say it's fun for the spectators. Alas, I digress...
Cast your mind - 3 weeks ago...
As soon as I arrived home my buddy Dave ran us out for some proper pre-race fishing on Mendon Ponds, one of my all-time favorite places.
This is all we got
I was stoked to have my family, Dave and Shana (who made the trip from Wisconsin!) there to cheer me on.
Dave even helped get me warmed up for the race, practicing the "Flask Feed"
The race was intense but I felt really good. First few laps I was settled in a constant 2nd or 3rd place, loving the 9 technical turns. That's when things got interesting.
Pretty for spectators - bad sign for racers...
Having pulled half of one lap I drifted back into the pack to rest for a bit - I didn't even know an attack of 4 riders went off the front. Then a wall of rain hit and there was no way we as a group could build enough speed to catch the break as we'd have to slow down in every corner to keep from crashing. I pulled hard at the front trading spots with the top guys
I watched at least 10 guys in the front group hit the deck. Having never raced in the rain I settled in, focused on not crashing, survived and waited for the sprint for 5th place. Coolest part was coming through on our bell lap and hearing the growing crowd of 30-40,000 spectators roar. It was like we were in Europe - I was thrilled that my home town, usually only excited by a Buffalo Bills game or Amerks Hockey, turned out the way they did.
I didn't jump soon enough but still finished somewhere around 13th.
It was pouring so my main concern was getting warm clothes on and not checking results. I made an effort but at first they were not posted yet, then after the pro race they were taken down. Speaking of the pro race it was off the hook exciting as there were more than a few crashes on the still wet course.
This was the corner that claimed many riders - notice all the manhole covers
This dropped one block downhill into another slippery corner that provided more carnage.
I think it's funny how mountain bikers crash, get up and keep racing. Roadies tend to sit there...
Probably at first to avoid getting run over
but then, after brushing away the tears, to take advantage of the rule that lets you join the pack when they come around again. ??? Try that in mountain biking and you'll get your ass kicked.
I have to admit tho, the pros were hauling ass like I only dream about - turn down your volume if you watch this:
Racing in the dark makes for interesting photos
The late-night posse
The lame-ass local paper barely mentioned the race the next day and instead focused on the Nascar race 3 hours away at Watkins Glenn but they estimated 40,000 spectators were there before the rain hit. As my luck would have it I was omitted from the results and I was way past the bullshit rule of having only 15 minutes after the results are posted to lodge a protest. So my first race with cat 3's and I don't get a bit of credit for it. As Dave reminded me - doesn't really matter since those I care about most got to see it in person. That was the first time both my Mom and Dad have seen me race a bike, that's all that mattered. Wish I got a photo of them there.
On the drive home I was loving the windmills outside of Naples - a welcome sign of the future.
Ok, back to worrying. 2 more days till the 100...