I stayed at Lost River Guest House, along with a cohort of November bikes, NCVC visiting professors, and some Gamjams death squads, complete with November "speed weaponry" of matte black, dangerous appearance. There were also a lot of gay men around, and a couple of new parents, since the Guest House is welcoming to all folks. I was glad for it, since the cycling thing gets old--the excuses for getting dropped, the excruciating liturgy of bike maintenance call and response, and the uneasy banter between rival squads and nemesi. Not that you can't be both a gay man or new father and a cyclist; in fact, some of my favorite cycling friends happen to be gay. Point is, and I've probably offended everyone making it, is that the things that were discussed were not cycling.
I also appreciated the company of Mr. November. After the race, as I donned my arm floaties and prepared for an afternoon of full contact post-race Marco / Polo, I spotted Mr. November reclining, shirt off, shades on, fit special lady friend by his side, looking as cool and vicious as his November speed weaponry, with his moderately fruity drink.
Mr. November and I rode the same race, and we had pretty much the same experience--getting our sweaty old asses handed to us, which we nonchalantly accepted and leisurely carried to pooleside, surrounded by really nice, friendly gay guys and new parents and attentive barkeeps who brought us ridiculously fruity drinks.
We were not dominant conquerers in the Ivan the Terrible on a bike manner. So what. Here we were at this awesome place with this view--the magnificent green valley below:
It was damned beautiful, and Mr. N. and I were doing what Cat-Geriatric racers are supposed to do: enjoy beauty and indulge in hedonism.
But this is a race report, so I reluctantly include details of the race. The race unfolded as many Cat-Geriatric races do:
(1) several small breaks form, but they're not potent enough to stay away;
(2) a break finally stays away;
(3) the most ridiculously in-shape dudes in the break attack it on the climbs and win.
In this race, I was lucky enough to be in the break. I wasn't the strongest--that was the winner, Rick Norton. He attacked several times, with his succinctly named teammate, R, and finally he gapped Stephen Robinson and me. R sat in, and I didn't have the anorexia-power (hereafter, ano-power) to win on the last climb.
I rode around for a while after the race, sampled the chicken served up by the Ruritans. Not the best, but they were incredibly nice folks. They kept asking me if I was hurt. No, that's just what wearing cleats makes me look like--that and riding in mountains and 95-degree heat.
Then I went to the feed zone, where I was able to chat with Rick and Pete Warner for a while. Sometimes in a race, the strongest riders don't make the break, and for Pete, that was the frustrating reality of Cat-Geriatric racing.
We watched the 1/2 field explode like buckshot, with ano-power demi-gods Jeremiah Bishop and Keck finally gaining separation. Then the ominous lone chase figure of ano-power grom Joe Dombrowski. Then the three of them, Jeremiah wailing for water, being handed a gallon jug, which he doused himself with like a man on fire. In the end, the sprint--Jesus, it came down to a sprint on that kind of climb?!--led to the bars tangling up and Keck edging out Joe. Joe told me later, at the Guest House, that he was certain they'd go down.
The 4s also exploded. A group of four got away, but were brought back. NCVC lined it up, setting up their man for the win, with DVR's Justin Reznick grabbing second.
The 3s exploded as well. I was certain triathlete cretin Matias P. would take it when I saw him soloing with one to go, but it was not to be. I'm certain his hirsuit gams, which serve him so well on the flats, betrayed him on the climbs, their thick heft weighing him down.
The rest of the weekend was an exploration of child and infant rearing. I've seen Chip Hoover win races after warming up by--and I'm not making this up--changing his daughter's diaper. Some guys can do that.
On Saturday afternoon I watched my friend Tom, an attorney and winner of the Washington Post puzzle challenge, hand out bottles to his teammates. He drove all the way out to Lost River just to do that.
That evening I watched him swaddle his infant son, Reuben. He swaddled the hell out of that kid. And that wasn't all. He had a thousand ways of making the kid stop crying; and Tom's only been a father for three weeks or so. He's only a Cat 5 father, but with an FTP (Fathering Threshold Power) that would shame most Cat 1 fathers.
Here I'd thought Cat-Geriatric racing is all about pleasure and hedonism, but Tom--who's still too young for Cat-G--shamed me into thinking there might be something more to life than all this racing, drinking, pooleside lounging, and view-enjoying. Maybe life isn't just about having awesome ano-power.
Maybe, but watching the display of it this weekend was awesome, and that Tom showed up to watch it was proof enough that, even to those with humanity and filial obligations, there's something extraordinarily tough and beautiful about racing up mountains.