Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Break days 1 & 2...

As some of you know I took a little vacation this past week. I headed to the mountains of North Carolina for a little bike riding with the U of Wisconsin cycling team. One the front end of the trip I swung through Charlottesville, VA for the beginning of the racing season: the Jeff Cup Road Race.

I had a relaxing saturday morning which consisted of an easy spin and packing my shit for a week long bike vacation. Lots of spandex and a few t-shirts was all I really needed. Tank on the other hand brought a full suitcase and a laundry basket full of clothing. I got on the road in the late afternoon as I was to arrive in C-Ville a little before 8PM, where I would rendezvous with Sophia for some dinner.

It had been about 2 years since we had last seen each other (bike and build?), and it was nice to catch up. Sadly, she was in the middle of a big mid-term review for one of her arch classes so her time was limited. This may sound strange but this is one of the first times I've noticed the one of my friends is growing up. I think mostly this has to do with our age difference and the long gap between seeing each other. In any case Sophia is not the same girl I remember from our days in C-U or at bike and build. A lot can change in a few years. It is not even a level of maturity (she has always been mature), it is more her perspective in life; a little more far sighted. Though the time spent was brief, it was good to catch up, and I'm glad to say that one of my friends is on her way to a good life.

After spending the night on Sophia's floor I stumbled out into a cold rainy morning in search of a proper bike race breakfast, while she ran off to the Gym and then back to the studio. I located the nearest diner and ordered the largest breakfast plate they had to offer. After eating I headed over to the race course to do some last min bike maintenance and suit up for the race.

The weather was chilly with light showers coming and going, the day had potential to be brutal, but only time would tell. We had a solid crew of 8 in the 1/2/3 race and planned on playing it cool for the first few laps and then trying to get a few of our strong guys into a good break. I was on escort duty, with R, to shepherd our two protected riders (Evan and Blair).

For the most part things went as planned, We covered early moves, and then started to animate the race. About halfway through the 77 mile race the skies opened up. A cool day quickly turned into a downright frigid one. Low 40's with cold pouring rain are not the ideal race conditions. Shortly after the rain started we put the right guys up the road with Blair, Evan and R making the winning break. Back in the field we did our best to shut things down and let the gap get out to a comfortable margin. Up front things got interesting with the main break fragmenting into several smaller groups. Blair ended up in the lead break with two others and finished 3rd. A little ways back, Evan and R took 5th and 7th, while Jeff Took the bunch sprint on my group for 9th. I was 17th and pretty well destroyed I tried to sprint, but my legs just struggled to turn the pedals over. To sum it up I think we raced really well. We put the right guys in the right move(s), and while getting 3rd out of a 3 man break is a little disappointing, it is a bike race,and sometimes doing things right is not enough. For sure the weather conditions played a factor in the outcome.

In typical L@13MPH fashion I'll drop some lyrics:
"Charmed but the weather broke me sober. I've never been colder"
--sneaker pimps, flowers and silence

I can honestly say that I've never been colder on the bike, even in all of my days of winter riding in Illinois. I'm also fairly certain I was not the only one experiencing problems. On the last lap I had to use my right hand to shift my front derailleur because my left hand was too cold to move my wrist and fingers. After the finish I rode back to the cars (~2 miles) with Blair who apparently developed a nasty case of cold induced Tourette syndrome. We're rolling along when he starts blurting out guttural noises and shaking uncontrollably for a second or two, then back to normal. This continued about once per minute on the way back to the car. He was in a pretty bad way. We also passed a NCVC rider that was shaking so badly that he fell off of his bike (well it looked like he was trying to stop and dismount), but the end result was him on the ground.

After changing and warming up a bit I hit the road to Bryson City, NC and the Nantahala Outdoor Center; cycling home base for the next week. I'll post some recaps of my week down south in the next few days. For the most part is was a pretty typical spring break trip: booze, nudity, fights, toothbrushes, condoms, mustaches, people shitting themselves, and some pretty killer bike riding. Stay tuned.

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