Monday, March 17, 2008

Hell's Kitchen Sink

Everyone I know who races claims they love the bike racing part of the bike races. I'm not so sure that's true for me. Okay, true that bike racing IS fabulous. The speeds the tactics, the effort etc. Every time I pin on a number, no matter what the conditions, I believe that there's no where else I'd rather be at that point in time. If you can ever think that, then you are where you belong.

But the real fun from bike races is the road trip. You get away from the static confines of home and get to experience something new. There's always something new in every road trip. Small things make for big differences in experiences. A new person, new place to eat, different coffee shop (for better or for worse), new warm up ride at an old race, etc.

Road trips always have the "Quote(s)" of the trip. For example:

Late Dec. 2006, Cable, WI: We're an hour into a hike in the middle of the woods in back country WI. Freaken middle of nowhere and no way to guide ourselves except for a compass. Then you hear this, "We're assuming this compass works right?"

March 2007, Austin, TX: "I'd be the lickee, but not the licker."

March 2007, Hell's Kitchen: "I'm pretty sure I can get podium here." AND this:

Incredible, ain't it?

So the plan was to drive to Fayetteville, AR. Ride all afternoon in the "warm" weather Saturday, then race on Sunday. Well........ The weather didn't quite get the memo. We rode, but it was SO warm and sunny that this was the attire:

Yeah, I know. It's a far cry from Austin. But we rode. Man, AR has some really weird places... like AR kind of (I don't really want to type the whole state name if you can't tell). Wonderfully paved downhills that bend around a corner and turn to gravel without so much as a warning. That's fun at 45 mph. "For sale" signs everywhere. Oh, How normal is it to come up on a cul-de-sac with 8 trailers and about 40 cars, but no people? Weird.

Driving to North East AR was a bit amazing and sad. Arkansas is a place that sells itself on the hills, wilderness, hill billys, etc. But if you travel on 71 heading south, then you see a different AR. The hills through which the highway once meandered have been pulverized by the mighty bulldozer and lots of dynamite. Now, it's starting to look just like your typical homogenized suburbia, but with hills as a backdrop. It feels like the only unique thing AR had going for it was just plowed under and paved. And, why is it that developers name their "sites" after what it is they destroyed to create space for the houses. "Babbling Brook," "Whispering Woods," "Daisy Meadows," etc. But where have those distinguishing landmarks gone? Hmm........

But, if you're looking for the BEST Italian food in Fayetteville, look for this sign:

And right next to it is this place:

Best food ever. On College Ave, I think.....

To the race!
There were about forty or so guys riding 60-ish miles. A good distance for March, and the numbers. I'm not complaining. The course rolled, twisted, looped, and had a 1.2 mile section that was 15%. That's steep, like 39x25 steep. I think I rode a 39x kuthunk 19 or 21 the first couple of kuthunk times up the hill. Steve was probably the kuthunk strongest guy that day. After all, he did kuthunk split the field on the hill each time. I had a stiff link in my kuthunk chain and had to ride for 45 of the 60 miles with my kuthunk chain making a kuthunk every time the link went through the pulleys and onto the cassette. kuthunk Awesome.

For those of you that kuthunk haven't taken the time, read the Shimano manual that kuthunk comes with the chain, you should. That kuthunk is really, really annoying.

At one time we had 4 of 10 in the kuthunk front move, which was good for the home, I guess away team at kuthunk that point. This got narrowed down to 3 of 8 after the kuthunk second time up the hill. Steve disappeared with a guy and the remainder of us started jumping each other. It's much better when you're with a team mate in that kuthunk situation. Bill and I were able to work together to get a good situation that could have worked very well for us. Right about then, I noticed that my chain stopped skipping. Woo Hoo! Now I can pedal.

When it was all said and done, Steve-1, Adam-3, Bill-6, Joe-8. Not a bad representation at all. Now we just had to come home..... For anyone that thinks that a car is full, you should take, Packing the Car for a Bike Race 873- Graduate Course; taught by Steve Tilford. In his van, we packed: 5 bikes, 10 sets of wheels, air purifier, full mechanic kit, stand, 2 air mattresses, first aid kit, 2 laptop bags, grocery bag of food, maps, 5 large duffel bags, five people, and an English Setter- with food, oh and a kitchen sink. How is that possible? I present exhibits A, C and B:


I'm guessing there were about 9 hours of phone time spent between 5 guys over 4 1/2 hours. That's the way it seems. There's guys calling girls, guys calling parents, girls calling guys, fellow racers calling us, we're calling and giving the updates. BUT most importantly, there was a KU game happening! There were 53 Three point shots made between both sides. That's crazy right?

For all of you MU fans out there: I think I need to buy some dancing shoes. You? Oh, right maybe you should go buy some oranges..........