Haymarket's Battle of Bull Run this Sunday was a good time to start thinking about rising again--that is, getting back out there on the bike and starting to get in that killer state of mind. Bull Run let me see how others are trying to work themsleves into a state of rising again.
Some guys haven't touched a bike since August. On Sunday, they were the ones who probably didn't show up, and if they did show up, they were wheezing from the start. Then there were the cyclocross guys who have carried over a little fitness from Novemeber. These guys recognize that it's a long winter, and there's no need to obsess over form in January.
Then there are the Chuck Hutches, the guys who think of the off season as a time to "build the battleships." Some of these guys go so far as to disdain riding a bike normally, since that's not enough of a challenge. No, these guys give themselves handicaps on the bike, just to make things interesting and sufficiently difficult.
For instance, Lance rode his Powercranks, a challenge whose difficulty you can replicate by riding your bike with two medium-sized Dachsunds strapped to your shins. Jared Nieters was glued to his little ring, while Robbie the Irish triathlete kept it in big ring. Others, like me, carry plenty of equipment around the midsection. And, of course, Rugg has forbidden himself from erupting with his Rebel yell, which animates his Dixie soul and strikes terror into the heart of his Yankee foes.
Speaking of Yankees--Tim Brown didn't even show up. Not riding in the off season is, of course, the ultimate handicap.
Back to the race...things got going when Jared instructed us to "follow Rugg." While this prevented Rugg from attacking from the gun, as is the usual, it did not in any way lead us to follow Rugg, since Rugg has made more wrong turns than a child actor turned crack addict turned Bernie Madoff investor turned recumbant enthusiast. Thankfully, a Don Beyer guy--Win Elliot, I think--was there to provide some stability and direction, as Don Beyer guys always do (ride the 7am if you don't know what I'm talking about).
But even a Don Beyer guy couldn't stop the rain from falling for an hour or so. I was soaked, but so was everyone else. Matias explained to me that the little heat packets that work so well in cold, dry weather, turn into little nasty useless balls in the rain. Another guy told me that waterproof boots are useless in the rain. On the downhills smart guys tucked in behind guys with fenders.
The only guy unfazed by it all was the gangly wonderkid, Joe Dombrowski. Joe was dressed in immaculate Livestrong kit (the kind they give you when they pay you to ride, not the kind you buy if you're a dentist) and danced on the pedals of a Livestrong Trek, which had just been fitted to his personal specifications at Mellow Johnny's in Austin. It will be the bike Joe takes with him to Europe this spring, and maybe again in the fall when he goes with the US National Team. Joe, I gather from a quick chat, loves being on the bike, is excited about his opportunity, but doesn't take himself too seriously.
As we waited for a train to pass, someone said something about this being very "Euro." Joe nodded, "This weather is good training for the Spring classics." He said it the way I say, "Riding at Hains is good training for Dawg Days."
After the first climb, we hit the dirt, and I found myself in the lead group of five with Chuck, Rugg, Robbie (still stubbornly in his big ring), and a stocky Saris guy. Eventually, the Saris guy fell off, then I fell off (and then blew a tire), then Robbie fell off, then Rugg hit the deck and "took a chain ring to the chest." Or at least, the tear in his jersey resembled the "tear pattern" a chain ring might cause. Rugg is not trained in CSI, I must mention.
If Rugg had not been coming off a two-week dosing of the world's most powerful antibiotics for excessive funkiness, I believe he could have caught back on. As it was, Chuck stayed away and won.
I made it back alright, then headed to Foster's. A helluva lot of fun.
Many thanks to Jared and his Haymarket team for putting on this kind of event.
Title stolen from The Onion.