After the disappointing crit the other night, I was preparing myself for another let-down during the cannon falls road race yesterday. And I got it–but in a much different form than I expected. Yes, I felt terrible and my lungs were only functioning at 50%. Yes, my legs were full of lactic acid on the first climb out of town, which I suspect wasn’t really that hard. But no, it wasn’t my faltering body that killed the day, it was a bunch of pansy officials and police motos who didn’t want to ride in the rain. Apparently out here in the Midwest, if there’s a storm a bruin, there’s a race a ruined.
15 miles into the race, right after the break of the day was established (which I was in) the race officials canceled the race because of tornado warnings. Just an hour before, the ride had started out bright and sunny, with temps in the upper 80’s and enough humidity to make that really sticky glue that holds wall paper on in bathroom walls fall right off without having to do any scraping whatsoever. Now in my book, none of this adds up to a potential storm. Especially not a tornado. Science has taught us that tornadoes are caused by light, cold air rising when it’s trapped under hot, denser air. And as I just explained, the weather on the ground was hot ‘n heavy, so tornado conditions were not likely at all. Furthermore, golf-ball sized hail was falling nearby, and everyone knows hail dampens tornadoes by forcing them down to the ground, since hail is heavier than air. And thirdly, and this is my last point, lightning was going off all over the place, and lighting has been shown to burn off tornadoes before they touch the ground–since lighting bolts are hotter than the surface of the sun, you can easily imagine how this is possible.
So basically, there was no threat of tornadoes.
All humor aside, though, I DO think it was perfectly safe to continue the race, or at least have us race back to town on a more direct route. I mainly say this because I was off the front–with a bad cold. How likely is that to happen again at an NRC stage race? Probably as likely as another NRC race being canceled because of tornadoes.
So here’s a recap of the race: We head out through the tiny town of Cannon Falls, where there’s a big expo with a bunch of tents and stuff and loud speakers blaring with the race announcers yapping like a bunch of howler monkeys–all to the racers since no one lives in Cannon Falls. We head up a hill or two. There are attacks but nothing gets up the road more than 10 seconds because it’s a heavy head wind. I feel like crap. A watter bottle falls out of my bottle cage as I go over some pot holes in the first 3 miles. Some guy almost takes Sean out, as I witness the event directly behind them. Eventually I find myself near the front and I attack. I look back and there’s one guy on my wheel. There’s also one guy up the road, who we’re rapidly gaining on. Kelly Benefit was sitting on the front of the pack and it looks like they’re content to let us go. A hill looms in front of me as I’m pushing way too many watts into the headwind and my lungs begin to cackle. I’m pretty sure I’m doomed. I elbow for the guy to come around me and he takes a big pull up the hill, with me hanging on, hoping that the hill ends around the next bend. The guy trailing behind us catches on shortly after we get to the top of the hill, and I take another pull as we go down hill and turn left up another small riser, but now we have a tailwind for the first time in the race. Perfect timing. At this point, we were 30-40 seconds in front of the pack, and we were about to catch the lone Kenda rider up the road, which would have given us a fourth guy. Later after the race, I heard there were two more guys trying to bridge up to us, who might have caught us and given us even more horsepower. It looked like the lasting move of the day, which would have probably gotten swept up in the final circuits in town, or sooner, but it would have been great to ride in the break all day, even though I was feeling about as fast as a zero-legged toad.
But it wasn’t to be, for a moto cop came up to us and told us to turn around. The race was canceled just before we hit the 1 hour mark, and we all re-grouped while the officials and the team cars joined in a huge cluster F. After 10 minutes of debate, they had us ride back to town the way we had come and it turned into a huge NRC group ride, which in a way was pretty cool. Just 20 minutes earlier we had been chopping each other to get ahead in the group, bumping bars, all in silence riding 3 inches apart. Now, we were acting like a big group of friends, chatting about the world cup, the idiot decision-makers, the lightning, and whatever else–all while riding with good group etiquette. The bigger pro teams eventually pulled out and loaded into their vans before it started raining, but the storm never really materialized in the race’s vicinity and it was all for nothing. A perfectly good race canceled because of some dumb wind that was 20 miles away. This is a perfect example of a situation where my motto of “Better sorry than safe” should have been applied.