Gebhardt Automotive Cycling Classic RR

What a relief it’s over and done with. I’m not talking about my race; I’m talking about THE race. Like the whole thing in general. Back in November when Adelaide suddenly decided to put this event on, neither of us quite knew how much work or how stressful it would be. Adelaide did the work, and I stressed. Well, I helped stress. Like the work, Adelaide did just about all of the stressing herself too.

She’s writing a blog post about how in the hell she put on the race (it’s anyone’s guess really), so check it out in my “friends” column to the right in a day or two. I won’t say too much about it other than I’m incredibly proud and amazed that she pulled this off. She didn’t know a thing about bike racing when she started this back in November. She barely anything about bikes for that matter. Two big things that she has going for herself is that she’s a very fast learner and a hard worker. Putting on the race turned into a part-time, then full-time job, and finally culminated into a 15-hour a day job for the last week and a half. I would get tired just watching her work.

The lack of pre-registered racers was a big concern in the final few weeks, as was the weather, the very real possibility of her losing thousands of dollars of her own savings, and of course the  potentially dangerous, angry residents who lived along the course that began calling a few weeks ago. One guy argued with Adelaide on the phone for about 15 minutes, proclaiming that he was going to sue her, which of course wouldn’t have been possible because she had all the legal permits she needed to use these PUBLIC roads. Another drunk-sounding redneck left a long voicemail (she’d since begun screening her calls from Laramie County numbers) and said, and I quote, “You people down in Boulder need to keep your bikes down there IN Boulder…we don’t like you comin’ up here….on our roads and riding them races….it’s the silliest thing I ever heard of….so….just STAY down there…in BOULDER and do your races….down there IN Boulder. Okay?” He rambled on and on about how he hates people in Boulder/cyclists for like 5 minutes. The disorganized, jumbled thought-pattern of this troubled individual rivaled some of my longest, most spaced-out voicemails…and I’ve left some pretty spaced-out voicemails in my day.

Anyways, the race was a huge success. 400 people ended up coming out to race and only one resident was given a ticket for reckless driving. It was sunny, the wind wasn’t gusting at 50+ mph like the day before, and the snow held off, just barely, until the evening. It was very humbling and satisfying seeing the level of support all our friends, Adelaide’s family, and other volunteers gave leading up to and during the race. The sponsors, which all provided excellent support, should be happy knowing they invested in something and someone very worthwhile. Everyone I talked to said it was a perfect day on the bike, that it was one of the best-run races they’d done, and it was one of the most fun courses they’d raced on in quite some time. We may have angered a few jaded losers with nothing better to do than pout about us slowing them down for an afternoon on “their” roads, but it was totally worth it after hearing how happy it made 400 other people and their friends and families. And now, onto my race (if you want the Cliff Notes version, I didn’t win but I did end the day with a bunch of free beer and some high quality pizza).

I started out by driving the lead car for the Masters 45+ cat 1, 2, 3 race that morning. I was nervous the entire time about the race in general, whether things were running smoothly at registration, if the traffic cones that the Sheriff’s office made us put along the center lines would cause crashes, and whether or not Adelaide was having a mental break down back at the star/finish.

I didn’t see anyone in the masters field behind me crash and when I got to the finish two laps later, everything seemed to be under control as no fire engines had shown up, yet. I got out of the car and stepped into my kit, eager to get the stressful part of the day over with and onto my bike where I belonged.

With my cortisol levels jacked to an all-time pre-race high, the whistle went off for the start of our race. I sat in, content to ride easy in the pack until the first hill. Our race did four laps of a 17-mile loop, which had a steep switchback climb up to Carter lake, followed the shore line before barreling down a steep descent, and then rolled on undulating, wind-swept terrain for the remainder. It’s a super popular training route that most of us have done 50 times, but it felt different today in the race somehow.

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Dean Warren Photography

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Dirka face. I’m looking forward to our new clothing by they way (that’s an HB vest Circa 2010). D2 Photography.

A large breakaway of 10 or so guys got away early and the field was content to let them go, since every team was represented. I was worried, but smartly waited until the climb to poke my head out into the wind. I rode pretty hard that first time up the climb and took 20 seconds out of the break’s lead, leaving them a 12-second gap. No one would help close it the rest of the way down once the terrain flattened out going around the lake. Luckily Nick Bax of Rio Grande dropped out of the break with a mechanical and we passed him as he struggled to take out his rear wheel a minute later. That meant that Rio had to chase the break down since they now didn’t have anyone up there.

Rio left the chasing a bit too late, and instead of closing it down immediately, they didn’t get up to the front until the gap had gone back up to like 30-40 seconds. But they did keep it from growing any more than that.

I took another dig the second time up the climb with a few others, and at the top were were gnawing at the heels of the break, which was finally just within reach. A few more pulls across the lake, towing the remainder of the field, and we made contact. I attacked immediately.

It didn’t go anywhere. Nick attacked. I bridged to him with one other guy and the three of us went for it over the next couple miles. We didn’t stand a chance with Horizon and all the other teams back there. The wind wasn’t favorable for a small break either. It was pretty much a head or tailwind for most of the lap, with only a little bit of cross wind coming into effect once in a while.

I attacked and covered a lot of moves over the next few miles but missed the next lasting break, which contained, among others Josh Yeaton of Horizon and Jim Peterman of Rio Grande–two guys on my danger list.

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Ryan Muncy Photography

I waited until after the start/finish to attack again, this time taking first Chris Winn of Horizon with me, followed shortly by Nick Bax (Rio) and Kit Recca (also Horizon). See picture above. We motored pretty smoothly and easily up to the break, making it 8-guys strong, which was a bit too heavily weighted with Horizon riders now. Josh sat on since they had the numbers to do that, while his teammates Kit and Chris took extra pulls. I never heard a time gap to the field, but never really needed one. There was no way we were getting brought back now.

Half way up the climb I attacked, but sat up quickly when I saw that Peterman was sitting on my wheel. I let him come around and pull the rest of the way to the top. Just in case I had to respond to a counter attack, I wanted to stay out of the wind as much as possible and save my breath. Ever since Wednesday, when I did the first of my 1-minute intervals of the year, I haven’t been able to breath right. I’ve been coughing at night and more easily winded since those brutal efforts, seemingly working with diminished lung capacity. This had me a little worried every time on the climb. I’m recovering from the workout just fine, but it’s a slow process apparently. I might have overdone it a tad bit the last couple weeks with all the hard efforts. Whatever. They’re paying off, and will pay off even more after some big-time quality rest in a few weeks.

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Final climb. Dean Warren Photography

At the top of that last climb all that were left was me, Josh, Peterman, Brandon Babaracki of Sonic Boom, and Michael Burleigh of Primal. The four of us all took pretty even turns while Josh sat on, knowing that he could get away with it since he had two teammates, for a little while anyways, chasing right behind.

The attacking started maybe 6 or 7 miles from the finish on the false flat/rolling headwind section. I followed for a while, letting others do the work to bring back each other, then unleashed what I thought was the race-winning acceleration with about 6K to go. I looked back, saw a big gap, and kept my head down. I looked back again, suffering, and saw Josh coming across, with Peterman leading the other two guys right behind. I sat up and they caught me. I attacked again immediately. That didn’t go anywhere. We coasted a bit and I attacked again, which also didn’t go anywhere for long. By now we were on the final false flat downhill straightaway to the finish line, with only 2.5K of tailwind riding to go to the line. There was no way anything was getting away now, so I saved up for the sprint.

I’m not sure how it’s possible to get boxed in when you’re sprinting in a 5-man group, but I managed it. I’d been sitting just to the left of Josh’s rear wheel in fourth position, expecting him to go around Peterman’s and Babaracki’s left side since the wind was slightly from the right. He didn’t, and when he started his sprint early I couldn’t get over to him since Burleigh was right there to my right. The rest of the guys began the sprint, unintentionally forming a three-man-wide Mighty Ducks’ V that I was stuck in the middle of and couldn’t pass. I coasted with 100 meters to go. This is the second time in two weeks I’ve coasted during a sprint. What the hell??? I found a gap with 70 meters to go, took a few big pedal stokes and lunged for the line, taking 2nd ahead of Babaracki and Peterman. I need to get on the track for some sprint practice apparently. Josh would have beaten me on that sprint anyways since it was flat and we were all still pretty fresh from it being a short race at 68 miles, but I should have at least been on his wheel.

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Josh takes a commanding win. Ryan Muncy Photography.

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The excellent bike throw for 2nd. Dean Warren Photography.

Horizon played it smart by never missing out on a move, stacking the breakaways, driving them when needed, and conserving when necessary. I feel like Rio stepped up this year, coming to the race with a full, strong squad and racing aggressively. As for myself, I should have attacked more in the end maybe, though Jim Peterman wasn’t about to give me any leash and he and the rest of the guys were still too fresh and strong for me to get away from. I needed like one or two more laps for that to happen and for their legs to possibly weaken. I was fairly satisfied with 2nd and happy to get in another good day of hard riding—all in order to continue my build up for Normandie, which I hope to hear about soon. There are so many strong guys on our team that I might not make the selection for that race. For now I’m just crossing my fingers and training my ass off. Today is a rest day though. My lungs appreciate it.

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Someone’s iphone Photography.

Below is my ex-coworker Dan doing what he does best. Check out his website  D2 Photography for some awesome shots.

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Some good friends manning the beer tent after the race:

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