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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
......we've all done 'em, at least those of us who want to go for the gusto, if not the gold. This one's about my first bike race....which was when I was 25, otherwise known as A Long Time Ago When I Was A Lot Stupider. I used to run cross country in high school, then I got into bike racing...sort of.

I was working at a bike shop in upstate New York, and this was back when there weren't a lot of bike shops, so a good portion of the local racers hung out at our shop. Naturally, they tried to talk me into racing, which wasn't hard. Talking me into it, I mean. Doing it was another story.

So I bought a go-faster bike, dutifully went on a bunch of training rides with the lads, and signed up for my first race...a 15 mile criterium to be held at Lime Rock Sports Car track in Connecticut. This was in the spring, which, as any of you who are from back East know, can be a really dicey time weatherwise. So, of course, it was really cold, raining lightly, all that good stuff...I think there were even a few snowflakes in the air.

The deal was, we were going to do our race between Classes 7 and 8, something like that, on the sports car agenda. Yes, they were racing that day, and I think we were the half time entertainment...something like the skating bears between periods of a Cornell hockey game. So we're down in the infield with all these sports car studs, who are watching us strip down to our black shorts and and microthin jerseys, blowing up our little skinny tires...while these guys are strolling around in full-on coveralls with logos like "Porsche Racing" and "Champion Spark Plugs" over their names above the breast pocket, and...basically, laughing their butts off at this collection of bike racer whackos.

Meanwhile, all of us bikies are watching the early car races, and basically thinking about switching sports. As you know, in bike racing, if you are doing 30 mph on the flat, you're really booking, and meanwhile, we're watching all these lower class go karts with engines rocketing into the first turn at 100 mph plus. It was kind of like saying, "Gee, I have a Cub Scout Merit Badge for making a slide kneckerchief holder out of a hickory branch" to a guy who's Special Forces and jump qualified.

So it's the pause between Classes 7 and 8, and no more faking...time for all of us Tour de France wannabees to get out there or take up bowling. So we do, and I line up on the pole position, because this is a criterium...which as we all know, for first timers, criterium racing is kind of like dogs on linoleum, or boxing on your bike, or tag team professional wrestling. My thinking was "No way am I gonna get caught duking it out in the pack...I'm gonna blast off the line like I'm JATO-assisted, make a break off the front, and stay away from all the other over-the-bar blood donors...

A fine idea, which, unfortunately, didn't pan out because I couldn't get my foot into my cleats, and by the time I got that figured out, I was sucking wind at the end of a big pack of guys who had exactly the same idea as I did. So there we all are, tweezing along into the first chicane at the astonishing speed of 26 miles an hour, and the crowd goes completely nuts. I mean, these people had never seen anything so loony in their entire lives. Meanwhile, coming into the back stretch, I'm trying to get back into the pack, another fine idea, which doesn't work because I end up getting elbowed off the track into the dirt infield...and crashing. Sew-up, glue on, skinny bike tires are incredibly fast on asphalt, and incredibly useless in the mud.

Now I'm really mad, so I jump back on my bike, minus some skin off my right leg, and start chasing the pack...again. I actually catch up with the rear-end slugs going up this big hill that exits the back stretch and wouldn't you know it? Some clown, who didn't glue his tires on correctly rolls both of them off the rims and does a face plant, and I almost ride over his back but not quite! Because two other guys elbow me off the track again! I'm not done though, and just to show you how smart I am, I get back on my bike and tear off after the pack, which is disappearing over the crest of the hill and onto this long downhill section that runs under a bridge and onto the front straight. I just said some really kind words about how much bicycle tires love pavements...unless, of course, the pavement is covered with greasy tire slicks, oil, gasoline, and other slippery stuff...which it of course is. This is Lime Rock Park Sports Car Track, right?

We are really flying going down this hill...like 45 plus, so of course the "to brake is to admit defeat" rule is in effect...until, that is, I paste myself into the outside curb and scrape off half of my left pedal. At this point, the crowd is howling with laughter or astonishment, I don't know which, and pointing to all of us in absolute disbelief. Then it gets real quiet, because I am well off the back and there's no possible way I can even see the peleton any more, let alone catch them.

After about a lap of me zipping along in this fashion...no good reason to go into the weeds again, so I don't...I notice that everybody in the crowd has a camera and they're all taking pictures of me. This does not immediately compute, except as a pilot of America's Funniest Home videos until I realize in all this excitement, nobody knows what lap I'm on, and everybody thinks I made a solo break off the front and am winning the race. Being the Honest Guy I am, I almost sit up and go "No applause, please. I suck! I'm not actually winning this race." But then I figured, what the hell? I've suffered enough! So on the last lap...for the pack that is...I let the pack catch me right before the finish line...and sprint to victory! I think, at this point, even the most clueless spectator in the crowd pretty well knew what kind of nonsense I was pulling, but they still screamed and exhorted me like I had just won Paris Roubaix! I mean, what the hell...remember what I said above about the skating bears? I'd say we gave them their money's worth, that day...
 

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another calling?

SkiRacer55 said:
...I ride a lot, but I leave the racing to the young, the fast, and the furious. My summer competitive sport is tennis...
Your calling is writing, anyway. Maybe you should go try again, so you'll have another story to write? ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks much...

Fixed said:
Your calling is writing, anyway. Maybe you should go try again, so you'll have another story to write? ;-)
...anybody who is willing to read my stuff has my gratitude and my full attention. But anyway...you read my mind! Outside magazine recently had a contest where you had to tell them why you deserved a $10,000 custom Seven road bike. So I put the above story on the front end, and concluded it thus:


"So before I die, I’m going to race another criterium…but this time, the magic ingredient is my Bicycle Built for Me…a Seven Cycles custom roadie, to be specific. And yes, you can go ahead and take my picture, because I’ll probably go straight off the back. But you never know…"

Actually, now that I think of it, I do need to go race another criterium, because there has to be a "And then, 35 years later, just to show how smart I am, guess what? I did it again!" sequel. In the meantime, if you want some other Big Laughs, my winter sport is Masters Alpine ski racing, a source of constant merriment. So go to the Rocky Mountain Masters web site:

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/

On the SnowNews and Articles page, down past all the SnowNews issues, you'll see articles by Richard S. Malmros (yes, my cover is blown...). I highly recommend the following:

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2006-03-Hotbox.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2006-03-Goals.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/articles/RMalm-2001-10-DayJob.pdf

http://www.rmmskiracing.org/snownews/SnowNews-2003Feb.pdf

Enjoy!
 
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