Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tour of Ephrata Stories

I've moved my story down to the comments section, anyone else who would like to share their race experiences feel free to add comments as well. Hoo-ah!


  1. Day 1:
    We're here, we've just finished a big breakfast, and we shall be departing for the race in just a few minutes! More details later this afternoon!

    We're back! Well, if I could describe the 3/4 race in a single word, it would probably be clusterf**k. Of course, as someone who finished off the back, in 68th place, my word choice might be just a tad subjective. Let's just say that, with a (strict!) centerline rule in effect on roads where the lanes are maybe 8-10 feet across, 100 racers, and a "neutral" roll-out, I felt like the race was basically decided before it even started. Not that it would have mattered, I fell off the back a little on the climb on the first (of four) laps, managed to get back on just barely, and had no time to recover when the field sprinted out of the next corner. Disappointing, but not the end of the world; it was a hard pace.

    I decided to ride a hard effort until I topped the hill for the final time on the 4th lap, then ride tempo for the final 6 miles to finish the race. Spent some time riding with a small chase group of about 10 riders, including Steve and Jinks, but only about 5 of us were really interested in getting anything going, so when we hit the hill on the 3rd lap I rode off the front of that group and soloed the rest of the way.

    I think I may have had more fun riding solo (not surprising, seeing as I ride solo all the frakin' time anyway), getting to bomb through some of the technical chicanes, getting to attack the hill on the 3rd lap, and just generally getting to pay attention to the scenery instead of white knuckling it in 60th place on the back of the field (yeah, that's right, I think staying with the field on the back would have been a whole 8 places - woo hoo!). It's not like I was going to be in the top 20, so all I had to do was finish at that point anyway.

  2. Hmmm, Bill and I busted our butts until halfway through the last lap... and got 63rd and 64th. We should have tailed off earlier! I echo the one word sentiment about the race. Between the heat and the sprint-brake-sprint intervals, I was pretty done for. Nice course but unless it opens up to the full road I think it is pretty much worthless unless you are in the top 5 places, not even the top 10.

    TT turned out to be an equalizer as the climbers had only a small portion to work with and the TT'ers had a slightly longer portion to work with. I think we were all within 90 seconds of each other.

    Crit wasn't as bad as the circuit race but still some shady riding skills were evident. I'm pretty sure the brakes were being tapped WAY too often. I wonder if PA has the highest per capita/cyclist brake pad purchases per year. I wouldn't be surprised if they did.

    All in all, a good weekend with the guys. Racing wise, I know we will all be a little fitter from ~4hrs of hard race efforts in two back to back days. I'll take VA racing any day.

  3. During the first lap and a half of the road race I was in the front, not catching wind, but not missing out on any riders off the front either. Soon after I fell back to about 10 - 15th, and realized that there was no way to get back up front without using the other lane. With one KM to go I spotted an opening on the right and went for it . . . . and then found myself on the ground. Not sure what happened, but wasn't hurt. Ended up 24th.
    The TT was a beast . . . the hills looked tame in the recon ride the day before, but in person they punished me. At the start of my TT there was a guy behind me decked out with full TT bike, helmet, skinsuit, etc, so I said to him "Say something encouraging to me when you pass me . . . " He did end up passing me, but I caught him after the turn before the silos. I looked back for him during the steepest climb, but he had the wrong bike for the job. I did well in the TT, but if anything it was the hardest, at times making me envy the riders who had finished and were riding down back towards the start.
    Pack finish at the crit . . . . . in all honesty I was a little worn out and at one point decided to use it just to gain experience in crit racing, not to try to go off the front or anything.
    I was happy overall . . . . just wish I had worn more sunblock!

  4. Well, most of the frustrations have died down from the weekend. The amount of racing over the past few days has been large. I really enjoyed hanging out in the grassy knolls. I will keep the race in perspective and try to rationalize what I thought happened to me, personally. First, I knew the level of competition was going to be high overall. So much of the racing was won or lost in the first 5 min. I'm use to longer, more strategic racing, complete with teamwork, tactics, and safety. The number of riders taking seriously inappropriate risks made me question the reason for not choosing the Master's cat.

    An example here was in the crit. My location center-mass, front row for the start of the crit. I was 1st into the corner and 8th coming out. Everybody felt like the race would be won in the 2nd turn of the 1st lap!??? I'm just not willing to gamble like that after last year. What was worse was the lack of control of the bike, period. Breaking was so plentiful everywhere in the fields, regardless of position. Bla bla bla.

    Bottom line, I prefer chess to cock-fighting and am looking forward to racing in a civil, yet highly competitive field this Sunday!

    No Wintergreen for me.

    I did like the ice cream!

  5. Ice Cream! When that is the high light of your racing weekend, you know something went seriously off track. Just like a number of the knucklehead riders in not just the Road Race and Crit but the TT as well. To echo the other comments, having a race be over in the first few minutes is a bizzare experience. To paraphrase Ricky Bobby's dad, "If you aint first into the corner you're last". There were no weak riders, but there were a number of riders with weak bike handling skills and that meant using more brake and more of my precious strength to re-accelerate. Strength that I needed to climb. One positive is that I now have confidence that I can hang with most on the rollers. The next target is the climbs. As for the Crit, I was a major stockholder in slinky for the day, until my legs filed bankruptcy. But as with all good executives I had a golden parachute in the form of home made ice cream. Yum! Hopefully the team enjoyed sightseeing around the back roads of Pa. as I watched the GPS and badgered Bill for directions. The trip home was also good because Ed finally got off the front with a massive acceleration through the 40 mph zone. Looking forward to our next get together.

  6. Hey guys, here is one of the best blogs to follow PERIOD! He is an Honor Guard and racer fro Battley Harley. Read his four race reports on the Tour of Ephrata.

  7. Interesting comment about not being able to get past the 10 blockers. It seems that even the pros had problems with movement around that course. Funny stouff.

  8. TdE April 2009

    Everything's pretty much been said by the team, but to summarize:
    1) Tight, technical courses + a hundred energetic, reckless cat 3/4 riders = unsatisfying carnage & chaos (TT was ok though)
    2) TdE was very well organized and run for the most part and considering the massive turnout
    3) Experiencing a stage race with the team was fantastic
    4) No more 3/4 races, maybe no more 3 races
    5) Much tougher race selection criterion going forward for me
    6) Excellent to finally get off the front, even if it took my vehicle to do it!

  9. For me the Tour of Ephrata was a great exposure, if nothing else… the good, the bad and stuff we don’t see in our neck of the woods. The road race almost felt like a different sport. The vertical challenge of the TT pegged the heart in a way not yet experienced. The Crit, although a familiar feel, seemed to have an unusually high pucker factor. By far the most rewarding part was hanging with the team. Look forward to better racing in the future.

    Rumor has it there may have been a folk hero among us……

    You may have seen him on the way to the race,
    Commuting by bike with a smile on his face.
    Then at the front of the contested affair,
    Long sleeves yellow jersey and a 21 on the rear.
    Then again with 1k left to complete,
    Picking up his ass back to his bicycle seat.
    Finishing strong – who could that be?
    An unattached rider number 253.

    The TT the next day he was sited by a few,
    While blazing the hill to a 26:32.
    Seventeen rolling miles got him over to the Crit,
    For a 24th place – this dude is fit!

    The GC had him at 16th overall,
    A commuting bike rider just having a ball,
    And so now it all begins with the candid remarks,
    Did you see that dude racing - The Legend Jacky Sparks?

  10. Amen to that!!
    Jack was everywhere, and mostly via the peddles. Not only did he put a whoopin on the competition and courses, he helped the team with everything from water to wheels to photos...well done.

  11. That was frakin funny as crap! Way to go Jinksy! Way to go Twister! You really helped this team behind the scene.

  12. I don't think anyone has ever written a poem about me . . . . thanks Jinks. And thanks to everyone for helping me to progress . . . . I don't know where I would be if Gus hadn't told me about the Sunday rides . . . .