Monday, July 20, 2009
Coppi, Beer, and Fortune
I rode the 20 miles or so from Shady Grove to the Giro di Coppi straight into a headwind. There were more hills along the way than I anticipated. I calculated I had to push more than 200 watts to get there on time. I was on the waitlist, so there was no guarantee I'd race, even if I arrived on time.
Thankfully, Chris Schmidt stopped and gave me a lift the last few miles.
Last year in my first race as a Cat 4, I'd finished 7th at Coppi. I liked the course--the distance and the long uphill finish suits me. This year I had hopes of placing or even winning, although with my upgrade pending, it would be fairly meaningless.
I worried about my recently-adjusted front derailleur, which, I learned on the ride out, threw the chain. When I pedalled "in anger," the chain jumped from the big ring to the small ring, or somewhere in between. This happened several times.
As the race started, I felt good. The pace was steadily high, with guys pulling on the front for no apparent reason. Fine by me. No break could stick because of their steady pressure.
My front derailleur threw the chain several times. If I shifted to the small ring, the chain sometimes fell between the rings and only with coaxing would catch. If I didn't shift to the small ring, the chain would pop off automatically and end up in between rings anyhow.
On lap two the chain popped off on an uphill and jammed. I spent a few minutes trying to extricate it, failed, tried again, was passed by the Masters 35+ stragglers, then finally jerked the chain free. I hopped back on the bike, then discovered my rear derailleur was jammed and bent. I got off again, fiddled with my rear derailleur, mounted my bike again, and still the chain didn't catch. I got off again, manually planted my chain on my big chainring, got on again, and started the chase.
Naturally, I went too hard and blew up on a long uphill, with some stragglers from the peleton just in sight. I did manage to put out nearly 390 watts for eight minutes, which was about as good as I've done, but it wasn't good enough. I couldn't keep it up, and exploded.
I pulled off and sat with my brother to watch the remaining two laps. The damned derailleur. The damned mechanic who'd adjusted it on Wednesday. The damned manufacturer.
On a solo break, Brown came by, leading the 3s by 30 seconds or so. Then came Chris in the second group of Masters. Then my own race, Ringer sitting in, the only one of us left.
My brother was going on and on about his race, all the little details. I didn't want to hear it.
I should have checked the derailleur myself before I raced. I should have figured out the problem and fixed it before my race.
Now Tony A. came by with Steven Kendall in a promising two-man break, their lead over the peleton at least a minute.
Again, Schmidt came by, then my race again, the 4s all together.
Rugg was home sick. So was Corey. Where were the guys who crashed behind me at Dawg Days?
Here come the 3s sprinting. Off the front two riders with Brown driving up the hill for 3rd place. Tony straggles in, head shaking, he and Steven caught within a few hills of the finish.
Then come the 4s, with Bert Garcia on the front and someone shouting at the line. Matt crosses, in the middle of the diminished field. There's been a crash at the base of the climb involving Chad Jones, a strong ABRT rider, and the ambulances are there and he's still down as I ride past.
I'm ready to quit racing. I need to study more anyhow. Who can say that racing is healthy for the body, the mind, the social life? Really.
Your body wastes away. You lose bone density. You break stuff that doesn't mend. You avoid those you love. You can't think about the real world. You have a skewed sense of what is valuable in life. You deal with the inevitable accidents of others with complete denial, telling yourself "those guys went down, but I did not because I'm special."
Well, you aren't special. Keep riding long enough, and you're going down hard. Better have health insurance. Maybe even life insurance (see Kyle).
Back home I wander over to a beer and wine tasting nearby. Sam Adams, Hook and Ladder, and Magic Hat are there. So are some wine distributers. I quaff Sam Adams' IPA prototype and a pilsner they're thinking of selling. The IPA's great. I'll need another snort please, thank you.
I taste wines too costly for me to purchase: a prosecco at $30 a bottle, and a 15% a.b.v. petite syrah at $28 a bottle.
I suck down nasty rosés, sauvignon blancs and pilsners. I guzzle brown ales and heffeweizens. A broke-ass Jimmy Buffet plays and sings, and the people crowd around the tasting tables.
Somewhere in there I began feeling better. Fortunate, actually. A little tipsy, sure.