Monthly Archives: March 2009

Leader Retreat

Oh my goash, the leader retreat was great.  More later when I have a bit ‘o time.

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Bike Pictures

I had a request for pictures of the (new) bike.  I included some details of the crash damage.

Sorry about the ultra bad lighting. I can only do so much in this apartment.

School > Me

This is long overdue. I really wanted to try to get in the habit of using this thing now so that when summer came I could keep everyone in the loop.  Oops, it has been 3 weeks since my last post.

Those three weeks have brought donations from Beth S, Scott & Kathy L, and Uncle Eric & Aunt Ruth (and their boys James and Thomas).  Thank you everyone for the support, it is really great to know that I have so many people encouraging me in this slightly crazy adventure.

The blog isn’t the only thing that school has kept me from.  I also missed the first collegiate race of the year but I did manage to make it out to the second one.  What an adventure that turned out to be…

The race was sponsored by Depauw University, in Indiana and the course for the road race consisted of an 8 mile loop around a small lake.  The Men’s D race was 3 laps around the course for about 25 miles.  As the official called the racers to the start line he informed us that we would have a group start instead of the rolling start we were expecting.  That meant that we (my teammates and I) didn’t have the best position in the peloton.  We were expecting a free lap, or free half-lap, lead by the pace car, to maneuver around a bit and get towards the front of the peloton. No such luck.  Luckily, after the starting gun (maybe it was a whistle) went off we there were plenty of super new people failing to clip into their pedals and I was able to scoot around them and make it up to near the front 1/3 of the peloton.

Cruising in a 100+ person peloton is a pretty great feeling, it is also incredibly scary.  I race in the lowest class which means that there are lots and lots of guys not only new to racing (like me) but new to riding road bikes, period.  The guy in the peloton next to me mentioned that this was the first day he had ever ridden on clipless pedals!  New riders don’t exactly exude smoothness and finesse while riding. When you are riding with less than 4 inches clearance between handle bars and wheels smoothness is a highly desirable riding skill.

As we proceeded through the first mile or two of the course there was a whole lot of craziness.  Lots of guys vying for position, lots of  “Behind, left of you,” “Slowing!” and other such peloton communications.  I knew we were going to have a crash, these guys could hardly control their bikes.  You can’t ride in a 100 deep peloton with brand new riders without there being some sort of nasty crash.

Sure enough as we reach the bottom of a moderate hill someone about 3 rows in front of me goes down.  By this point in the race I was incredibly nervous, the guys at the front of the peloton were severely controlling the pace of the race (we would fly down hills only to nail the brakes at the bottom, I don’t know why) and you could smell rubber from various newbies in the group over reacting/late reacting to changes in the peloton pace and locking up there rear wheels.  I had maneuvered myself to the far left side of the peloton, thinking that if a crash occurred in the peloton I could swerve to the left into the other lane of traffic to avoid it (there was a yellow line rule in effect, so there was plenty of open space to the left of the peloton).

Boy was I wrong.  As soon as the rider about 3 rows up went down, riders all around me start panicking and hitting the brakes, hard.  The rider directly in front of me locks up his rear wheel and fishtails to the left (we were on a curve to the right) and low-sides.  My front wheel hit his rear wheel/leg/frame and I go flying.  All I can really remember is laying/sitting on the ground covering my head and neck as best I could with my arms as the other 70+ riders flew by.  Luckily I was hit by only 2 or 3 other riders who, as a result, also crashed.  All said and done there were about 5-10 riders involved in the crash.

I immediately get up and started looking for my bike. It seemed like there were people and bikes everywhere and I initially couldn’t find mine.  I found it 10 feet or so down the road, I think it too had taken a hit or two from other riders.  Initial damage assessment looked OK; my bar tape was shredded on the right side and my right pedal and rear derailleur had some character but otherwise everything looked functional.  A quick adjustment to my brakes and I’m back in the saddle, mashing my pedals.

I was pounding as hard as I could to try to catch back up to the peloton but after about 2 minutes I realized I didn’t have a chance at catching it.  I resolved to finish the race anyway, passing as many people as possible on the way. I finished the 25 mile race in somewhere around 1:20:00 but I’m not entirely sure because I was racing on my new bike that I hadn’t moved my computer onto yet.  Seriously, this was the second time I had ever ridden the bike.  It was brand new, and so perfect. Way to break it in, eh?  En route to the finish I passed somewhere around 20 other riders that had either been dropped form the peloton or crashed.  I finished 70/92, there were 10 – 20 DNF’s (did not finish).

So a disappointing first race, that is for sure. I felt quite strong and I feel like I could have been competitive had I not got caught up in the crash.  I am a slightly stronger rider than a teammate that finished at the end of the main group (around 40) so I think it’s fair to entertain the idea that I would have, at worst, finished similarly.  But who knows what would have happened. If we were able to ride as a team, we could have done much better.

Overall it was a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again.  There was no race last weekend and this weekend I have to back out of the race because of…..homework.