Friday, April 26, 2013

Boone Roubaix 2013

Crazy Dan Boone and Dr. Pain's Lessons of Dirt

April 20th 2013

When Mike Robinson's (AKA Dr. Pain) wheels hit dirt he morphs into a Lycenthrope or shape shifter.  His aero position drops four inches, leg speed increases 20%, pupils dilate to improve hazard handling, and heart rate and wattage spike. His usual mild personality devolves into an ill-mannered terra-planing competitive S.O.B..

"Never stop pedaling when you hit a sand trap" he advises. "It only slows you down and you'll stop or crash. Bomb all descents at top speed. You need the speed to vault the potholes of death."

I have learned to never let him get ahead of me in deep sand. Somehow he just always floats away leaving you flailing the bike in shin-deep sugar sand unable to get going again. But I am grateful for his negative tutelage for it has proved invaluable in recent Roubaix events.

Being uncomfortable descending smooth pavement switchbacks at 50+ mph, I now rely on my new ability to turn it loose on the dirt and put time on timid rivals. There were several dirt sectors in this race that allowed me to do just that and end in overall victory for my age group. (50-59)

Our 250+ mass start race began in 38 degrees and ended in the mid forties. Hiding in the van huddled over the heater proved a poor strategy. We were told there would be a neutral lead out across the cold, rain saturated field but nobody told the lead car which immediately  took off out of sight. This left all 250 people struggling to stay up front on the twisty, hilly potholed course.
The carnage was unbelievable. No crashes, but within 2 miles the lead group was down to 25. My legs felt like lifeless turkey bones kept in the fridge too long. It was a painful struggle just to keep in the draft near the back.

Mike and Jayson were nowhere in sight.  So strange for the Mudd brothers to vanish this early.
Eventually pavement appeared, the pack slowed slightly and It felt like a grand fondo.
With a super-human effort a red-faced Jayson managed to get across the gap and latched on to the very back where I had pitched my tent.  "Oi!" he breathed. "I made it. Bloody hell I'm knackerd!"
"Welcome back dude!" I congratulated his effort slapping him on the back. A few seconds later we started one of the longest steepest climbs of the whole race. An un recovered Jayson began to slide backwards. "Bollocks!" he cried.  "See ya later mate........" and he was gone. I felt bad and considered giving him a push......but only for an instant because the 20-40 year-old riders were now climbing away from us single file and because he is not sponsored by Bike Works/Cycle Logic. Maybe next year he will be orange not blue and I will help him. Maybe.

Eventually I came off too. This climb was steeper than Hogpen at 6-Gap but not as long.

A few miles later I was joined by two younger guys from Team Pittsburgh and we started sharing the load. Me on the uphills and dirt, they on the fast paved downhills. Everytime we hit dirt I thought of Dr. Pain. What would he do?  Keep the pressure on, never hit the brakes and bomb the descents and potholes. A pattern set itself up......climb just hard enough to retain Team Pittsburgh.....descend fast enough not to lose them......then imagine chasing Dr. Pain on the next dirt sector. When my buddies came off I couldn't help a feral Robinson grin.

At one point a strong but nutty local rider bridged up. I think he was on drugs. He was way too animated. Every hilltop or hard effort he gave a rebel yell at the top of his lungs.  "Yee-ow!!!, feel that BURN!!!  C'mon boys!  Let's ROCK!!!  Hoo whee!!!"

I think he rode bandit.  Everybody had a three digit race number.  His was folded up to reveal  "6."   But he was strong and we let him help us like the Woody Allen joke:
A man visits a psychiatrist.
"My brother thinks he's a chicken."
"Have you told him he is not a chicken?" says the psychiatrist.
"No because we really need the eggs" the man replied. 
Later he started whistling the sag truck to take his vest.  They politely ignored him.  They knew something.......maybe he was the crazy side of the Daniel Boone clan. We kept the eggs though.

Finally we turned onto the final gravel parking lot loop and under the finishing banner. Team Pittsburgh raced itself hard for 15th place. Crazy Daniel ignored the banner and headed for the free beer. I rolled under the banner in about 2 hours 41 minutes.

Jayson came in 9 minutes later and Mike a scant 5 minutes after that. We all had the same basic tale.  We got dropped by the youngsters then rallied by forming small chase groups the rest of the race.
Few riders seemed to have road skills and required lectures on efficient rotations and echelons. There must be more mountain bike riders in these kinds of races.

We all agreed the promoter Andrew "Stack" Stackhouse is much friendlier and more approachable than all Florida road race promoters combined.  He was very interested in everybody having a good experience. He was MC and also drove the whole course filming and offering help and encouragement to all the racers he encountered. He walked the parking lot welcoming everybody one at a time.
We will definitely be back next year and will do as many of his upcoming races this year as possible.

Here is the video that Jayson O'Mahoney put together...enjoy.


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