Sunday, I was more a voyeur than a rider.
I watched all of Reston Gran Prix, from the Cat 5 8:35am race till Dave Fuentes' sprint win. I heard Joe Jefferson's first and last words in the microphone. I listened to the riders. I watched with Greg (shown below) who's had a busy week at the American Cancer Society, what with attending the White House Rose Garden ceremony where Obama signed into law new legislation against smoking. p: Tom Simchak
According to Fox News, after the ceremony Obama invited Greg to the Oval Office where they shared a fattie, worshipped Allah, and plotted to create an America overrun with gay, Arab, gun-free, communist, swine-flu infested aliens on bicycles (Greg insisted that they be on bicycles).
Greg raced in the cat 5 race my brother, Marcus, Jeff, and Tom Simchak, our second man from the UK. That makes four Europeans on our squad. I'm not counting the Viking here, since the 12th century hamlet of Gromm in the poetry of Einnar Skúlason hardly counts as European.
Tom learned to ride from a wearer of the Giro's maglia verde, an old swarthy Italian who showed up mysteriously on team rides. "Tomasi," he said, "you must'a lose'a dat'a weight'a you a' got'a." Tom finished fifth on the day in a hard-fought sprint, apparently not having lost quite enough weight.
Matthew Ringer raced the 3/4 and 4 races with a tire tread-shaped scab running down his back (see below).
Someone ran him over in a crit up in NYC.
Today, the boy just suffered. He'd done Poolesville and placed in the top ten. In today's 3/4 race he hung on for a few laps, then snapped. I didn't see that, since I was suffering up ahead.
I did get to see him hang on in the 4 race for all but the final 10 minutes. The guy was barely dangling every lap. Lose ten yards, make it up on the downhill. Lose ten yards, make it up on the downhill.
Matt refused to accept that his engine wasn't working. Around lap five my brother and I noticed he was suffering and started cheering him on. We shouted our asses off every time he came around. My throat is still a little sore.
p: Tom Simchak
Anyhow, it was crazy drama, and cycling porn. Beautiful stuff. He hung on for all but five minutes of the race, until Joe Jefferson invited everyone to give him a hand and he wobbled off and sat on a bench staring up at the portable bike museum, mumbling nonsense and claiming to see visions.
That's what you look for when you watch a bike race. You don't look for the douchebag sitting in like he's waiting at the salon to get his cojones dipilated. You don't look for the guy with the biggest set of deep-dish wheels. You look for the face of the guy who is feeling it the most.
It's hard to see behind the shades and the helmet, I know. This isn't porn. This is drama, like going to the opera, except you can't just expect the riders to burst into song or rip off their clothes or bare their souls to you. To feel what they're feeling, you've got to try to imagine what they're feeling. When you see the agony of someone like Jens Voigt, you can almost feel it:
Other riders hide it. When you look at them, you not only have to see what's on their faces, you have to see the pain they're not showing.
But what kind of masochist wants to watch pain?
Well, when I fell with 1.5 laps to go, the first thing I saw was Lance Lacy lying on his back sort of laughing / moaning in pain. When he fell, his legs instantly cramped up. We were all sort of laughing and moaning and kind of checking things out. Kyle Jones was lying there in a heap, obviously pissed. The 540 guy who'd caused the whole thing was apologizing. Lacy wouldn't shut up about how he was cramping. The paramedics were wandering around asking us if we were fine. I reached down and stretch out Lance's calf for him. It felt good to think about something other than my butt, which was fairly painful, and it felt good to be off my bike. My race was over. I could breathe. No more pain.
I could sit back and watch other people in pain. Yay.