Thursday, June 26, 2008

Austin: Thursday Night training race?

I'm BACK! Yes, was down and out. But now, like a phoenix rising out of its own ashes....

I flew into Austin on Wednesday night and stayed at the same house as in February. As always, Maureen was the coolest host anyone could ever ask for! My reasons for flying out so early was to reconnect with some friends and to race on the Driveway in Austin's very own Thursday night training race put on by Barry Lee and Team Hotel San Jose.

Training races are usually just that. Training. You may or may not pin on a number and usually you ride around in a race type setting with only glory and bragging rights as the prize for first place. At least that's the way it is in KC, where we pay $10 a pop/ $60 for the summer to race a non- USCF sanctioned event (without USCF rider insurance), on a course open to cars (but there are corner marshals), without any kind of prize money.

I met up with Stefan Rothe and Bill Marshall in downtown Austin and we rode the 10 miles to the race. As always, the weather in Austin in the summer is hot, hot, hot and this was no different (100F). We roll up to the race and what I see is definitely far beyond my expectations.

For starters, there's about a thousand people at the "training race." Racers, spectators, vendors. Oh yeah, there's vendors too! Beer, burgers, brats, beer, and Gatorade. Not only that, but we had an announcer, PA system, officials, the works! That night Barry found some cash primes and a bit of prize money for the top 3 (I think). We did the long course, which was probably good considering there were about 75 riders in the "Open" race; which included a few Women Pros, and a few Pro Men also. I found some footage from a Driveway Race here. It's not the race I did, but it gives you and idea of how cool it was.

I was pipped on the line 3x for cash primes, which really is a bit embarrassing. However, I did manage to ride up to the break with Bill Marshal at one point. However, I thought to myself, "I really want to get a prime tonight and they won't be called for the break." So I went back to the field. It was hard, but not too hard in the break, I just didn't want to work that hard. Big mistake as Doug Looney really let me have it from the heckling standpoint. Well, played Doug. When it was time for the field sprint, I did the first lead out for Barry, with Rashaan Bahati finishing it off as Bill Marshall swept Barry's wheel. By the time Barry came around, there was no one left for him to sprint!

We sat around for a while drinking some ice cold beer which, after a race, is fantastic! By the time we got done hob knobbing with the locals, it was basically dark. What followed was probably one of the most fun rides I've ever done. Stefan, Bill and I rode home, through the heart of Austin, with only the street lights to guide us. I've forgotten how much fun it is to ride at night! I wouldn't really recommend it as a good idea though. Most riders don't understand how traffic works, and how traffic can't see a bike at night, well enough to avoid crashes, injury and death. So on that note, don't ride at night, eh.

Maureen and I had some wine with some friends immediately after the race. Good place, fun people, no idea what the place was called now. But the food there wasn't so much on the list of, "good after bike race food" so we went on to the Rio Grande restaurant. This is the sponsor of the self named cycling team and the food is great! But for a real treat, try the Margaritas!

Both the photos above are by Dave McLaughlin.