Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pantani Ride - a view from the front. (8 weeks late.)

Shortly after the Pantani ride, after the dust settled and it became apparent that Quadsworth had won, I reached out to him to get his take on the action.  What happened out there, how'd it all shake out, and more importantly, who cried. 
Quadsworth got right back to me, exuberant, victorious, and always (ALWAYS!) excited to be doing rad things like racing his bike up 30% grades.  I sat on it.  I figured I'd give it some time before getting it up on the blog, maybe even wait for the weather to turn  warm.  As a really half-assed, lazy, unpaid, overworked bike shop blog intern, that's what you do, or at least that's what I do. 
Spring has been - as you may have heard them say in Colorado - a little "slow to develop" this year.  And one thing led to another, I forgot how to read, and I forgot to put up Quadsworth's race recap on the blog.  Shoooot. 
It's March 27th.  Legit spring weather is still pretty far off for whatever reason, but there's at least a brownie crit today, and Wadsworth's view from the front is below.  Enjoy the read, and ponder what it's like to be that fast. 
"Man it shook!

After Greg tipped the hat on Fox I knew we were in for a rowdy fun Throwdown. The descent however was clearly in my favor. It turns out that when Marco came to me in a dream and insisted I ride the Superfly he knew I would choose the right weapon. I guess he saw the light after his demise. Road bikes'll kill you man!!

I was able to link turns and full gas it downhill like the cross bike contingent just couldn't, I don't care what type of tubular glue they were runnin.

However then we hit the road and things tipped slightly up, I knew from last year what was coming. I know Joe and David Reid knew what was up but Pajama Pants Yeager and the Millet Missile Greg Wittwer may not have.

Either way that was more or less our group, plus yourself, a rowdy Pat Norton, and a few others. We paced casually double file to the base of Simmons, turned left and went up up up. I lead from fairly early on. I think Greg dropped back to the Wittwer Wagon or maybe had a wee because he was absent early on. The pace was light at first, conservative I'd say. Even if we didnt know what was coming we all felt that sense of apprehension that not knowing what is coming brings.

As I lifted a bit to test the legs it was apparent frank Yeager brought his climbin legs. It would be clear later that he also brought his pajama pants and a bowl of breakfast yogurt. He stayed with me until he dropped back to holler profanities at David Reid, who was always a switchback of suffering behind. At that point it was Joe Fish, the Millet Missile and myself. The pace was dictated by the quads, high but not unsustainable. The cross bikes clearly had no trouble hanging at this phase.

We crested Simmons, and among witty banter between us three lost boys we then realized we still had a might steep pitch to know the one. I put it in my 30t cog an pedaled. A little gap sprung up, looked like I found my ace come Broken Back.

We created the real top of Simmons and then began the rallying descent. The Fish wove his way through the turns, it was pretty inspiring, even inspiring road rage which nearly undid us three in one driver. Hot on his wheel I could feel the oaty wholesomeness of the Wittwer on my wheel.

We made it to the bottom, Yeager and Reid were out of sight but I got the feeling just barely. Apparently so as Yeager pulled into our gruppetto just before brokenback. We hit it, and as always it hit back...

I'm not a brilliant man, heck I won't even claim to be a smart man, but I know bike racin and I knew those cross whips would have the upper hand on the lead up to the finish, so with one steep ascent and one good descent left it was time to put it out there. Circles were made, cross bikes were walked, and the clouds began to thin. Joe Fish was never far off and from the way he was pedaling I knew Wittwer and Yeager mustn't be far off him. When we turned right at the break of brokenback I had to wait for confirmation from Joe as we headed up up and up.

Greg wasn't far off. In fact, he was close. I could hear cowbells.

I made an effort, not an exhausting effort but a big push to get clear without blowing it for the spin back to the finish. I saw fish and Wittwer switchbacks away, close, but slowing. The ascent was much slicker than the descent. I saw the tail end of the crowd...dissipated like the spring snow on top the Gavia.

On top I was alone, the open climbs of Simmons gave me a clear back window, no skinnies in sight. I knew the moment was there, hammer.

I pounded the descent, slinging Free Union gravel and grit as the Superfly slid corners and pinned straights. Woops of support came from the pack of riders I saw starting the ill-named lolly pop. As the gravel ended I paused before heading left, pulling out my map, and proceeding tucked into as aerodynamic a position as my body would allow. The intentionally over-complicated map proved easy to follow to the finish, and eventual glimpses of Metro Solo up ahead tantalized me into pacing harder and harder. 24mph doesn't sound fast until you consider 2.2 knobbies and offroad gearing.

I felt the cross bikes behind me..."they're fast," I told myself, "they're together," I confirmed, no panic in my inner monologue, merely recognition and affirmation of the fact this was gonna hurt too. No easy pedal into home base. It was make or break.

I caught into Metro-dolf the kindly wizard near the finish as he escorted a lost lamb back to the fold. They tried in vain to hop on the train but the train wasn't letting up.

The farm emerged in my sights and I returned into the bliss of a quiet finish. A Pantani win is like few others, it's not fanfare that greets a victor, but a quiet lawn chair and a lick from a Saint Bernard.

The cross train came in a while back. I imagined their lack of yellow tape must have gotten them off course, but it didnt cheapen my victory.

More and more contenders rolled in. It wasn't a congratulatory mood but rather a celebratory one...I didn't win...WE won! We had all come into touch with the passion and vigor Marco lived life with, we had all danced on the pedals and grimaced in writhing agony.

The cross bikes, who seem bred to chase yellow tape in circles, and get off their bikes at the slightest inconvenience, they won. The full sussers, who lived for the smooth downhill and graceful corners of simmons, they won. The hardtail, king of all the wild beasts, saw what it was created for: bombing repack style downhills and climbing narrow passes with equal aplomb. First timers, old timers, outta timers; We all won that day I just knew it before the rest...

... And yeah, I'm wearin the maillot pistachio right now. "