Monday, June 22, 2009

Mystic Velo Weekend: More misadventures. Aka, the long bike ride home...

"What the hell are you doing?", I yelled at the over eager mystic velo rider as he took the non existant inside line once again. He pushed me into the other riders lap after lap after forcing his way where he didn't belong. I started shutting the door on him soon after. There's no reason to be that freaking aggressive at a crit, especially if it's your own race...

I was in Charlestown, RI, racing the Mystic Velo Criterium in ninigret state park. The course layout was simple enough, and the lack of curbs made the race much safer. I had driven down early to warm up after a rest week that had left me feeling sluggish. As I rode around the course, I took note of the wind. At the start/finish line, the wind was coming from the right, so the inside was the most shielded after the last corner. After the second corner, the outside was better for hiding. I should have told my teammate Chris Adams this before his race, but I caught him just as his race was about to start, so I just wished him good luck instead.

My race wasn't terribly eventful, which is a good thing. As we were lining up my friend and new teammate Paul comes up to me and says, "Me and the guys are going to go attack in the first few laps and lap the field. You're welcome to join if you want."
"No thanks," I tell him, "but you're welcome to lead me out when you get caught."

I feel sluggish during the race and realize that I'm at the back of the field every now and again. I can move up fine, but I have a hard time maintaining position. I just don't see the need to be that aggressive till the last five laps or so. I don't get it sometimes, but maybe I should try practicing holding my position.

As promised, Paul and his friends go on a break. I try waking up my legs and move up to go join them. As I bridge, the field starts chasing and we're caught soon enough. I'm the link between the field and the break and I feel like giving the guys in the break a shot at making it. I start to slow down with the field on my wheel. I let the gap open up, blocking for everyone, and then pull off to make someone else chase if they feel like it. The break didn't get organized, and were reeled back. 12 to go. Atleast my legs are functioning again.

"When do you want me to find you?," Paul asks me a few laps later.
"I'll start moving up with around 5 to go. No, make that 3 to go," I respond as I hide in the pack.
"Alright, he says."
10 to go.

I stay on his wheel, trying to hold on. His lines are good, but he's positioned on the wrong side of the field. I gain position, but lose the effeciency of the draft by moving up the windy stretches. "Too early to burn this many matches," I think to myself as I move back into the pack.

With 3 to go, I find myself pushed onto the grass. "Yahoo, grass surfing!" I yell as the guys beside me crack up. I find Paul again and stick to his wheel.
"Why does that dude in front of me keep looking back?," another rider asks me. I fight the urge to say "I dunno, maybe he thinks you're cute," and shrug instead. I was on Paul's wheel, and 'that dude' was going to lead me out. With 2 to go, I was in the front half of the field. With 1 to go, I was in the top 10. "The sprint is mine," I thought coming in. I was tired, but none of that matters on the last lap. I got separated from Paul. He went the windward side again. I needed to save that match.

Then it happens. The inevitable inside squeeze. I'm pushed onto the grass on the 2nd last corner of the race. "Dammit," I shout out loud, as I lose all the position I'd fought to gain. The field is strung out, and I manage to hop back onto the course. I know it takes us about 25 seconds to get to the finish after the last corner at 25 miles an hour, from my counting a few laps prior. That doesn't matter now though. I've lost too much ground.

Then again, I'm on the shielded side coming out of the last corner. 25 seconds is too long for me to sprint, but it's my only shot. I go, standing up on the pedals with all my might. My legs start to give up, and I sit back down, shift to a harder gear, and stand up again. I guess I crossed a few guys coming out of that turn because I finished 5th again. Not bad, I'll take it.

After the race, I join Paul and his friends to cheer on the juniors. We arrange a granola bar prime and run around screaming after them to go faster. We were trying to get a collegiate atmosphere going, and I think they liked it. At one point, I took off my jersey and chased one of the Mullaly girls with it flapping in the wind behind me. I was annoyed that a guy was trying to shake her from his draft. They weren't even in the same race, and he was being stupid.

Paul's friends had to take off, so we (me, paul, and his girlfriend) decided to go grab lunch together. As I pull out of the state park and join the highway, my car gives up. Again.

With Paul's help we call a tow truck and wait. I treat Paul and his girlfriend to lunch for being awesome and for Paul's attempted leadout. We hang out and talk/eat for a bit, and they leave as the tow truck shows up.

The drive to the repair shop is hilarious. The driver tells dirty jokes and says that "kids today have too much sex. Where were all these girls when I was younger?" I nod while trying not to burst out laughing as he launches into a stream of consciousness-esque tyrade. He totally went there. Hilarious.

The repair shop lets me know that the repair's going to cost atleast 800 bucks. Later they tell me it's going to be a cool thousand. Broken distributor. That's what I get for writing about economics in my last entry... Time to start looking for another car...

Paul had offered me a ride home. "Can I bring my bike?," I ask. "We'll make it fit," he says. I don't like the sound of that. It's 3:00 pm. I tell him I'll call him back after talking to the shop.

"Can you fix the car today?," I ask the shop, "I need to be home by 8." Turns out that they don't have the part.

I consider the options. Drive home with Paul with the possibility of leaving my bike in my car. Or...

I run to nearest burger king. I buy 2 burgers off the dollar menu and the biggest cup of coke. I run back to my car, change into my CVC kit and fill up my bottles. I have one bottle of water, one of energy drink, and two of coke. I leave my pants and jacket in the back seat, and pack my messenger bag with the essentials: drinks, burgers, wallet, gps, and arm/leg warmers.

I call Paul. "Dude, I'm going to ride home. How should I go about it?"
"Well," he says, "Take route 1 south all the way and then take 154 home."
Sounds easy enough.

I head back riding at tempo. I need to be careful not to bonk on the journey home, as I've already raced pretty hard. I expect the trip to be about 60 miles.

I admire the glimpses of scenery as I ride home on Rt. 1 S. I stop to ask people for directions every now and then, and stop for a burger around 2 hours into the ride. There are a few bridges on the ride, and Paul had warned me about them. Route 1 merges with I 95 before the bridge. I can't find the way to the sidewalk he'd mentionned so I keep riding.

Too late. I find myself on the shoulder of the 4 lane highway. Up ahead is an exit where 3 lanes of cars are entering from.

I am all that Jack fears.

I get lucky, there's no traffic so I scamper across the road and rejoin the shoulder. This happens again at the next bridge.

After I'm calmed down enough, I knock on the window of a car as I'm stopped at a red light.
"How do I get to middletown?," I ask.
"Oh, you don't want to keep going this way. Take this right and head back on 154 and look out for signs."
I thank them and turn right.

In my trance like state, I blindly follow signs for middletown. I find myself where I really should not be: on route 9. A major highway.

I stop on the shoulder to reevaluate where I am and eat my last burger. As I'm finishing up, I see sirens.
A cop pulls up to me and asks me what the heck I'm doing on the highway.
"I'm sorry sir, I've been trying to find my way home from Charlestown, RI, and someone told me to head up this way when I asked for directions."
"You're not supposed to be here," he counters.
"Trust me sir, I don't want to be. I'm not from around here. Can you please tell me where I should go?" I ask.
"Give me your license," he demands.
I hand it over. He puts my ID into the system.
"Do you ride on the highway in Pennsylvania too?," he asks.
"I've never had my car break down so far away from home before sir," I respond.
He hands back the license.
"You're going to go back down this way and take this exit off. Go left, and keep going till you hit 154. Take that home."
"Thank you sir."

I turn around and head back. On the shoulder going the wrong way, I hit a sewer drain. It's one of those ones perfectly wide enough for your tires. My tires go through it and hit hard metal. PSSSSHHHTTTTT is the sound my tubes make as I get a pinch flat. Luckily it's only on the rear. My one tube came in handy.

I repair the tube, and head back on 154.
The rest of the ride is quite uneventful. No highways, no nothing. Just a scenic stressless route on the way home. I have to call a friend on the way back. I won't make it back in time to go out for a movie with her tonight.

The rain had been coming in off and on all day, but it picks up as I head close to home. I'm soaked, but I make it home at 8:15 just before it gets dark.

I make the requisite mom call to let my parents know I'm alive, and head in for a shower beer in hand. Beer shower, as my housemates call it. I freaking deserve it.

Total for the day:
20 miles racing. 5th.
70 miles riding home. Tired and hungry.
About 3400 KCal burned. I eat to my hearts content and then eat some more.

This summer seems to be filled with all sorts of unexpected adventures. I've been enjoying myself, but I think it's time to start looking for another car...


  1. What an AMAZING story! You're a Flahute for sure.

    Seeya Sunday!

  2. nice. that's a haul.

    my occasionaly thursday night training crit winds usually winds up being around 85 miles... fifteen miles to work, fifteen miles to the race, twenty mile race, and then the long haul back home in the dark...