Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Leland Pavement/Gravel Extravaganza

What’s a Kermesse and why is there one taking place in a nice little town like Leland, anyway?

I signed up for this race partly as a favor to
Rob to put more red and black kits on the line. I registered for my USAC license just so I could register for this race. And I registered about 20 minutes before the Cat 5’s filled. You’re welcome, boss.

I signed up for this race partly as a motivator of my own. It seems that everyone around is starting to race (or started racing in the last year or two). The training they are doing was leaving me in the dust. I needed something to kick me out the door and get real miles before April or I’d forever be dropped. So let’s do this thing already.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky for the race, but gone were the unusual April 60 to 70 degree days with which we’d been spoiled. A steady strong NNW wind was in effect across empty Spring farmland. 50 riders started the Cat 5 race. The four of us in Psimet kit rolled out near the front. I hung out in the left line to keep out of the wind for the first part of the circuit.

As we turned north, riders started getting buffeted around by the wind and some were finding themselves in the grass. Pavement is good.

The race hit the first gravel section and things just went wonky. People got tentative and there was a lot of survival mode happening. I admit I felt a bit of gravel trepidation on that first go round. I just planted myself in the saddle and pushed a bigger gear to keep steady. I saw a few riders go down, but I kept it upright and stayed in line. That trepidation about getting into the looser stuff cost me before the long section ended. I saw the BH boys fly by on the left. A minute later I see Arron and Matt do the same. I should have jumped out there and tagged along.

By the time we saw the
Lion of Flanders snapping high in the breeze signaling the resuming of pavement, I was still in sight of the first and second groups. I could see Matt and Arron chasing. I could have buried myself to catch them, but I know that would have been worthless. I would have been completely gassed and been dropped, anyway. So I just turned the pedals best I could and soldiered on to the southbound gravel and picked off a few riders along the way.

The southbound gravel sections were much easier to handle than the northbound. More compact surface and a blessed tailwind to assist. By the second lap I started working with a guy from Spider Monkey to handle the crosswind and eventually we caught up with a few other riders, one each from Half Acre, WDT, and Joe’s Cycles. Working together helped make the second and third circuits easier to handle. I need to throw a big shout out to Jason of WDT for basically pulling the rest of us through the last 2/3 of the final lap. I wish I could have done more up there.

We came across the line 16th through 20th out of 40 who finished.

Again, no good shots of me to be found, but here’s one that happened just behind me on the first gravel. Matt and Arron going by like nothing’s wrong.

(photo credit: John Firak: link)

1 comment:

  1. that is such a great photo and your description of it is spot on.