Wednesday, June 20, 2012

OBRA RR Championships & Twilight Crit

The second and final day of the OBRA Road Race Championships were held this last weekend. With the heat and humidity at stifling levels (For Oregon anyway.) The Master and Junior categories took to the difficult and hilly south Salem course.

If there is one thing about that damn course is that there is surprising little shade and only a hand full of short flat areas. It's either going up or down pretty much the whole time.

Partially because I'm a wussy and didn't want to go out and play. And partially because my team is sponsoring/running the event this year. I felt the need to volunteer for the day. I was a lead car both for the morning and afternoon shifts. Which doesn't suck. But my ass did take a pounding (Wait....).

I started out the day driving for the senior women.  The first and second women on the podium broke away with a little less than a third of a lap under their belts. Once the first real hill came along they exploded the peloton into a thousand feminine pieces. It was pretty impressive. They continued to work together up until the final couple of kilometers of the race. I wasn't holding a watch. But I'd have estimated the next lady coming across the finish line 4-5 minutes after them. It was a dominant show of strength.

I drove for the senior men in the afternoon. 95 (!?) miles in the heat of the day. The group staid together pretty well for the first lap and as the second started a group of four rolled off the front. Once they established a lead they held it for four laps. Two of the men in the breakaway got spit out the back. One on lap 4 and one on lap 5. I don't think it was the pace. It seamed to be the heat and the relentless high pace that just shed them off.

Once the break was down to two. It was pretty obvious who was driving the train and who was just holding on hoping to have something at the end. It's a strange experience to watch all that unfold in a rear view mirror. Like TV, only backwards...

I was really rooting for them to hang on until the end. But a small group of four were making a real charge to bridge the gap in the final lap and they were doing it quickly.

I notice that the guy who had pretty much been hanging on was giving a few digs on the final couple of climbs. Then once the big guy caught back on he'd go right back to hiding again.

Unfortunately the writing was on the wall and with less than 2 kilometers to go they got caught. They both managed to hang on for the sprint but it just wasn't meant to be. A real heart breaker.

Needless to say the big fella wasn't real happy at the end. I believe he thought (And I agree with him.) that if that guy hadn't been dicking around they would have made it. To bad. But it was a great race to watch.

The Ol' Team Van
 Fast forward to Tuesday evening in Eugene and the Twilight Crit Series. This is an on going series that the team has purchased a season pass to. So I'm taking full advantage of and taking the "Ol' Team Van" down whenever I can.

This go around it was myself, Thomas, Steve and Dusty. This was Steve and Dusty's first time at this series.

Just to lay it out there one more time. I can't sing the praises of this series enough. Its a lot of fun. The course isn't particularly exciting. But it's safe (Reasonably so anyway.), fast and really lets you hone different crit skills.

We had a decent trip down to the course minus some rubbernecking on the Belt Line from and accident and Dusty having some sort of severe hatred of guys in tank tops (We've chipped in for therapy...).

Once the race got started we were active from the gate. There was rarely a move off the front of the group that didn't have one of our guys in it. We would either bridge the gap or be initiating the moves. The speed was kept pretty high. Although it didn't feel like it was as high as last week. Our average was in fact a little better (24.7 mph). But it just didn't feel that way.

Dusty went for the prime lap (Anything to do with beer and Dusty is all over it like a fat kid on a cupcake.) and just missed it. 

I tried a counter move right after that that wasn't meant to be. But I could tell that something had a good possibility of staying away because of the hesitation in the group.

Sometimes you can just tell by the way the group acts as a whole that they expect someone else to cover the breaks. It's interesting. I wish I knew what made the difference between that and them not letting anyone get an inch.

Anyway, we kept throwing guys up the road hoping that something would stick. And it really didn't. Until the very end. On the final lap to go everyone was waiting for someone else to initiate the sprint. The fella that shot up the road first is the one that actually won the race. Although by the time we got around to the finishing straight I thought he had already been caught.  Obviously I was wrong...

As we were about 3/4 of lap from the end  Thomas and another guy got a gap from the group and managed to hold on. It was awesome! I might have been able to pay attention the whole time if it weren't for a heavy set racer within the peloton doing one of the stupidest moves I've ever seen.

Just before the final corner (A right hand turn.) this dumb ass went from the far right of the group all the way to the left side in a violently fast and erratic motion. I guess to get a better angle on the corner. Which in and of itself is retarded. You could take anyone of those corners at mach speed at pretty much any angle.  But don't get me wrong. If he'd had the room I still would have thought it was stupid, but not totally moronic. He could have easily taken out the entire group. So he gets the Asshat Award™ for the day. Idiot...

Back to the finish....

After we had the scare from Asshat we rounded the final bend and I could see Thomas still holding a good gap. I don't know what got into me but I just started yelling, "GO, GO, GO!!!! GO, THOMAS GO! YOU SON  OF A BITCH! GO!!!!"

This is Thomas's award
Of course at the time I thought he was going for the win. So that's why I was extra exuberant. But he ended up third. Which is still totally awesome! I think the train has been let out of the station (Get it? Hahahaha, I crack me up...). With a podium under his belt I'm hoping that will give him some confidence to go after it more. Thomas has always been strong. So this just confirms it to me. Well done Bud.

See, he's leaving the station...
 As for Dusty, Steve and myself we all did just fine considering. I ended up 28th (Meh, I was so busy yelling. I forgot to sprint myself.) Steve got 21st which is super solid. As well as Dusty getting 14th.

We all rode aggressively and had a good time. And isn't that what it's all really about?

Thanks for wading through this breathy one.

Rubber side down,

Big E

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