This was a Tour like no other, it had everything, fast bikes, fast competitors, a great course, a great race director, a town full of cheering residents, and of course some blood. Like I always say if there was mud and blood we had a good time. We were a little short on mud, but a friend of mine made sure there was plenty of blood left on the pavement.
So me and about 1620 other people rolled into Staunton and jockeyed for a parking spot in the field next to the starting line. I was lucky and got a great spot this year right by the pavilion. I quickly got my bike out and ran it up to the start line, where I laid it down in the road to save a spot at the front of the line.
Next it was over to registration where I grabbed my number and I was so surprised when they didn’t give me # 1.
Next I went over to pick up my shirt, I have always given the shirt to my girls because I hated the design. I have been a very vocal complainer to the Boeing Bike Club about getting a new design. Well guess what, this year there was a new design! The new design is really great, I love it. My girls are not getting it this year. And well, I’m not saying they changed the design because of me, but I’m JUST SAYIN!
I trotted back to my van and kitted up for the race then milled about talking to a couple hundred of my closest friends. I even ran into the illusive Steve Parks, better known as the owner of the Cyclery, only the best bike shop in the country and of course my favorite hang out. I think this was the first time I have ever seen Steve ride the donut. He is super fast though so of course I knew I would only be eating his dust.
I ran into my nemesis Terry Eldridge we have had a little rivalry going for years, but it seems the only time I can beat him is when he is injured. Of course I did some trash talking and told him I was taking him out at all costs and he gave it right back, telling me I would only be seeing his backside as he flew past me. So the battle was on and I told him to bring it.
It was getting close to time for a warm up and Jenny and I were making plans to have our spots on the starting line held while we warmed up. It was a good thing that the entire Rock Racing team was there so that we had people to hold spots.
A friend of mine gave me a heads up that there was a change in the course and that when we hit Main Street this year, we would have to take a detour, so Jenny and I headed out for a warm up and found the course changes. I’m glad we did, because there were some really tight turns and some rough road to watch out for. We also had news that some of the roads had been rocked, which really surprised me because we had rode the course just a few days earlier and none of it had been recently rocked. I was a little worried about this because loose gravel scares me. We took in all the changes and discussed our strategy.
You see, just as in past years, I treat this race with the respect it deserves, it is THE TOUR you know, so months before the race, I started enlisting a number of very fast guys to work as domestiques for both myself and my friend Jenny. On race day this year we had 5 very fast guys lined up to pull us, hopefully to a podium finish. We lined at the start with Mark, Joel, Chuck, Darrell, and Andrew. Now don’t go all girl on me you guys, you are listed in random order, it has nothing to do about who is the fastest. You can all just think you are the fastest.
You see, everyone of these guys are super fast and any one of them, if they wanted to, could ride fast enough to be in contention for a podium finish, but instead they choose to work for me and Jenny and for that I am thankful. We could never do it without them, well maybe Jenny could, because she is tougher than me, but I know I couldn’t.
The Metro Tri Club had an outstanding turnout for the race, so we decided to get a quick picture before the race started.
So the national anthem was played and the gun went off, then me along with about million more people rolled out. The pace was a bit slower on the way out this year due the changes in the course. There were a few tight turns that kept the pace down. I was pretty nervous until we hit Renken road, where there was more open space, because there were so many people and no matter what the race director requests, there are always recreational riders up front who have no business riding in a tight pack at these speeds. I just try to watch everything around me and stay out of trouble.
Our strategy was to send Joel and Andrew out front with the first group, so that they could count the number of girls in front of us, then we would regroup at the 1st donut stop. The rest of us would try to stay together as best as possible coming out of town and then once on Renken road we would regroup and form a pace line with the guys doing all the work. That is exactly what we did, the pace was pretty fast, but it was working for us. As we pulled through the first donut stop Joel and Andrew were waiting for us. Andrew had donut sugar all over his face, I think he had a snack while he waited. Mark waved to Joel to take off and we all fell back into a pace line. We pulled up along side another group pacing a girl, while Joel reported on the status of the girls in the lead pack. We rode side by side with the other pace line for a while then we pulled through and took the lead. We soon dropped that group and were making the turn to climb Possum Hill. As we started up the hill I felt my body starting to say NO. At the top of Possum Hill, I tried to quickly grab some sport beans out of my pocket.
I love sport beans and since they changed the packaging to have a zip top, it is really cool because if you don’t eat all of them, you can seal them back up and not waste them, but…. The problem is, when you are trying to eat them while riding fast, it’s really hard to get them out of the bag and into your mouth, and therefore, you end up slowing down. In the wake of trying to eat something, I fell off the back. Mark rolled back to check on me and I told him to go pull Jenny. I didn’t want to slow her down because I waited too long to fuel up. He said, he and Chuck would stay with me while Joel, Darrell and Andrew would pull Jenny if it came to that, but for now let’s try to get back on. Just before the second donut stop Mark sent the guys and Jenny on, and about 2 minutes after that, I started feeling human again, the sport beans had kicked in. We worked for a while to try and get back on, but were just a little too far back. As we made the turn just past the second donut stop, we hit some deep gravel where the road had been chipped, but lucky for us it only lasted about 25 yards. When we hit the pavement again, we caught a few of the Tri Club guys, so we all started working together for the last leg. Mark did most of the pulling, but Chuck and Pat helped out when they could. We turned onto Renken road again where we would hit a couple more uphills and one really fast downhill. As we crested a hill and rolled into the really long fast downhill, we saw a crash just at the bottom of the hill. I could see that there were some Tri Club guys in the crash and yelled to them, but Jim was standing at the edge of the crash site and waved us on, they had it under control. Plus the police were there and we could hear the ambulance coming up behind us. About 100 yards after the crash there was a second crash with a Metro East rider down, he looked to be in pretty bad shape, but there was no carnage, so we were perplexed as to what happened. There were a couple guys sitting with him, so we rode on past. Finally we were at the top of the hill, so just to be safe I sucked down the last of my sport beans and headed into town, I was starting to feel really good so Mark picked up the pace and we started dropping a few guys that had hooked on to our train. Me, Mark, Chuck, Pat, Mike and another guy I didn’t know did a fast sprint through town to the finish, as we came through the stretch with the BBQ contest booths, we were cheered on by the crowd, some BBQ’ers that I know were standing and waiting to see me and made sure I heard them cheering me on. There is nothing like having tons of people cheering you on at the end of a race, it was like a stage in the Tour de France. We made the last few turns and rolled through the finish to see Joel, Darrell and Jenny, Andrew was no where to be found. Then all of the sudden Andrew appeared. I asked him if he dropped everyone and he said no. He was eating a donut at the second donut stop when we rolled through, he yelled to us, but we didn’t hear him. After he finished his donut he tried to catch us, but couldn’t, so he finished a little behind us.
Being a domestique is a thankless job, but I try to make some type of payment for services. This year it was socks, all the guys got socks, very cool socks too.
Chuck’s wife Lori was riding in the race this year and was still out on the course, so I told Chuck I would ride back out with him to help pull her in. I thanked my guys for their hard work, congratulated Jenny and headed back out on the course with Chuck to find Lori and pull her in. As we were riding out, I was thinking just maybe we would catch her at the second donut stop and I could eat some donuts, but to my dismay, she was burning up the pavement and we met her with only 8 miles to go. I heard her say something as we rode past to turn around, I think she said “eat my dust Chuck”, as she pulled away from him.
I finally caught her and as I passed I heard Chuck gasping for air and knew that Lori had stomped him.
We finally fell into a nice pace and started working for Lori. When we heard a guy pull up behind us and say “Aren’t you Rock Racing? You have a great blog.” We both looked back, it was Luke from Team Virtus. Luke hung with us for a couple miles and we discussed upcoming adventure races, including nationals. He also gave us some pointers on radio orienteering since we are going to have to do it in the upcoming Thunder Rolls 24hr race.
As we made the turn onto Hackman road, Lori flatted, we stopped and Chuck gave her his bike, I pulled for her the rest of the way in and she had a fantastic finish time. Lori said “so this is what it feels like to upgraded” and just like at the Tour de France, the domestique gives up his bike for the leader. As we were riding away, we heard a loud pop, I knew that wasn’t good. We found out later that Chuck’s C02 cartridge blew up in his face, and he ended up riding the bike in on a flat tire.
I rolled up on the sidewalk and saw my nemesis Terry, he was all bandaged up and looked like hell. Sorry Terry, I just had to say that.
He told me the story about the crash, he said a wheel came out of nowhere, and it happened so fast. He hit his head repeatedly on the ground, of course we will never know if it hurt him or not, if you know what I’m talking about. HA HA sorry again Terry, it was just too hard not to say. His helmet was crushed, so he was in the market for a new helmet. I quickly locked my helmet up in the van. I told him I had to run, because I owed a guy some money for taking out my rival and this guy didn’t come cheap. He tried to punch me, but I ran away too quick.
I ran into the Donut Boys, they are the two tandem riders that have tattoos on their calves with the golden donut and it is marked for every year they have won the tandem division. It was a sad day for them though, they got second this year. It’s ok, they plan on training harder for next year’s race.
Oh and we can’t forget about the guy with the donut hair cut, some people will do anything for this race.
I spent some time chatting with people I knew and I came across a couple of the guys I ride with on Wednesday night, they were sitting in the shade taking it easy and waiting for awards.
So I stood around chatting with a few of the women racers and of course I sported my Zillawear for all to see.
The results were posted on the stage, so I went up and took a look. I was 3rd overall women in road time, with a 2nd in the 40-49 age group and Jenny took 2nd overall women with a 1st in the 40-49 age group. Can you believe it, 2 of the top 3 women were in the 40-49 age group, just my luck.
As we waited for results, Christian the race director was giving away attendance prizes. He kept calling names and no one was there so then he said, “if this keeps up, I’m going to start giving stuff to my friends”. Of course I yelled, “I want to be your friend”! So he says come up here, I’m giving you a prize. He starts to hand me a prize and you know me, I can’t just say thank you and go. Instead I say, “Can you give me a helmet, I need one.” So he gave me a helmet, I then walked over to Terry and handed him the helmet and said, “It’s the least I can do after paying the guy to take you out”. Everyone started laughing, it was funny and Terry got the helmet he so desperately needed. Thanks Christian!
So the awards were given out and I had to pick up a couple for friends that had to leave, in the end I was wearing medals, which only one was mine. I sure loved the sound of them clanking together. I also made sure to get a picture with the Queens of Staunton, it wouldn’t be a donut without them.
And of course I couldn’t leave the race without a picture of my favorite donut race director.
All in all, it was a fantastic race, Great course, great friends, the best domestiques anyone could ask for and of course the biggest donuts around. Thanks to all the volunteers and the Boeing Bike Club for putting this race on, it is the highlight of my summer.