Sunday, October 25, 2009

USGP Louisville

Nothing can prepare you for the speed of the best. I had no idea how fast a bike could be ridden before today. Now I know. It's seriously fucking fast. Absurdly fast. Couldn't believe it. Tim Johnson won, he was flying. Love that guy. He went off the front on the second lap I think and never looked back. I think he won by 40 seconds, which is like a damn eternity. I took one picture...

 The course had dried up a bunch by the time the Pros hit it. It was super fast and tacky with a great line; I was really jealous. When we raced it wasn't nearly as fast but it was a lot sloppier which really hooked me up in the end.

I was only able to register on Tuesday of this week and since staging is based on registration, I lined up on the 10th row in 95th place. I'd never raced against 110 individuals before, and I didn't have a chance to pre-ride the course so the first lap was an adventure. I started right behind Matt who'd given me some really good advice; relax, don't try too hard, let things shake themselves out. Fantastic advice, really. Whistle blew, pack surged and down the opening straight I got lucky and things opened up in front of me. I was doing a lot of talking, trying to keep everyone calm, filling every gap that opened up in front of me. I think I was in the top 50 by the time we hit the first mud section. There were a few guys trying to force the issue; yelling, jumping on and off their bikes, swearing.  There's a photo series of it here.  I took it upon myself to ask them to shut the fuck up and chill out. I think everyone sees the leaders riding away and they freak but you've got to stay relaxed, stay upright, be patient and people will make mistakes, move out of the way, move backward and things sort themselves out.

So people were freaking and this kid was running, trying to pass people and he stuffed his pedal right into my front wheel. Miracle my spoke didn't break. I had to tell him to mellow out then I took it upon myself to ride him into the course barriers. I'm generally really peaceful, I have no vengeful motives when I race, but if you act like an asshole and almost end my race being an impatient selfish dick, then I'm going to take your line and hand your ass to you. I weigh 185, you're not going to push me around and I will not tolerate inappropriate behavior.

I got him out of my way and stayed relaxed but kept the speed up through the barriers. The first lap I was checking out the course, taking advantage of mistakes, (and there were a ton of mistakes; must have been a bunch of roadies...) and basically putting riders behind me. A few guys came by me obviously aiming for the front of the race and I was happy for them; being fast is fun. Otherwise, I just put people behind me. Guys were falling down a lot; it was really slippery, but there were some really good fast lines developing and the sun was coming out. I stayed on it, steadily putting riders behind me. It's a long course and I thought we'd do 5 laps. I was right. Toward the end of the second lap a spectator cheering on a friend told him he was top 25. Top 25? I don't really remember passing that many people, I must have gotten a lot of them in the first 2 minutes.

Tongue Biter

With less than 2 laps I caught my friend Brent who placed 20th on Saturday. I patted him on the back and told him to come with me but he was on the rivet. I knew I was doing well, there weren't a lot of riders ahead of me but I kept pulling them in. I was closing in on a group of 5 when my time ran out. I probably could have done another half lap, but all of a sudden, as quickly as it began, I was done. Tanner was at the finish line waiting. Soon after the whole crew rolled in; Brent, Matt, Nagoshiner, Nate. We got a photo taken then rolled to my car for beers and water, took showers and hung out, shwilling beers and watching races. Great day for Team Biker's Choice (and Nashville in general, Brent can't help that he's on the wrong team, just like I can't help that my jersey says Mapei and I don't even know what that is).

               Matt, Tanner, Brent and Me.  Skinny guys make me look fat?

I ended up 19th, right behind Tanner who started 40 spots and 5 rows ahead of me.  Made up 71 places through 5 laps.  I'd say that's pretty damn good. SS race went with us, I was passed by a couple of those hammerheads but as far as I could tell there weren't any other Single Speed riders in the 2/3 race. A source of pride for me, as I'm sure you can tell. Next weekend is the local Halloween Race as part of the Cross The Way Series. I'm probably going to ride too much this week and come into it tired but I don't get to ride enough as it is so I'll have to risk it.

Looking for a old road bike I can convert into a Fixie. If anyone's got the line on a 58-60cm old style verticle dropout bike, let me know. I need something for the road and I'm not about to start shifting...

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