A Team Victory
By Liam Donoghue | May 17, 2009
Race name: Monsters of the Midway
Race date: Saturday, May 16, 2009
Down in Arkansas, after doing some climbing with Luke, and talking about what lay ahead the next weekend, I second-guessed myself a bit. He told me of the sizable hills going on at Larue-Denzer-Larue, and how it suited guys like him and me, and I thought, for a fleeting few moments, Maybe I should go up to Wisconsin. Nah, all us Cat 4s would be at Monsters, and I love races where I can ride my bike to and from the start line. So Monsters it was. And monstrous it was. A mite windy, too.
At the line we had (apologies if I’m forgetting anybody): Me, Nathan, Loukas, William, Jared, Dokko, Alberto, Stocky and Seegs. I think a good 15% of the race was xXx. Again we all met beforehand and plotted strategies, talked about who was planning to do what, who thought they had good legs, etc. The plan was to essentially to attack and counter, and keep that up until maybe one would stick. Like the Greek phalanx, we were watching our comrades on the front line, jumping with an effort and a grunt to fill his spot when he got caught and dropped back. This was a bike race, though, so even though I felt like I was going to die at the end, I didn’t. Kinda felt like war for the last 10 minutes though.
A few attacks went off the front early, but nothing major, and nothing that appeared to have legs. About halfway through the 30-minute race, I and a few other xXxers made our way toward the front of the pack, as the peloton strung out a bit to chase down a couple guys off the front. I was sitting maybe 10th wheel when we caught the group, and edged up to fourth or fifth on the home stretch with 10 minutes to go. I sat up, looked back for some teammates, and, seeing a few, knew it was time to attack. We turned a couple times onto the back stretch, where the wind was, where the attacks happened, and I went for it. I told myself it was the exact same thing as last week’s uphill time trial, only it’s flat here, and there are turns. Otherwise, 10 minutes at 387-ish watts, and bingo, either you win gloriously or lose hilariously.
I can’t say I remember much, but I went around a few times, didn’t seem to gain or lose much ground, until that final lap. Whereas the peloton was ramping it up, I was starting to lose steam. I must give the maddest, sickest, evilest props in the world to all the boys who I know were doing the work for me up front, blocking and marking any attacks or attempts to bridge. I surely wouldn’t have had a chance if they weren’t there for me. So thank you guys, if I didn’t get a chance to tell you in person.
So, last lap, I’m still out front, but on the back stretch into the wind, I’m really feeling bad. Bizarrely they tried to marshal me off the course (as if I were a lapped rider), which wouldn’t have annoyed me if not for the finish, because it did get confusing out there with all the guys off the back. I took turn three, figured they’d be close. Saw a guy in blue out of the corner of my eye. Great. They caught me. On the last turn. I sit up, prepare to let out some choice four-letter words, and then realize as I’m starting turn four into the final straight that it’s not the whole group, but just one guy. I launch back into the drops and grab his wheel, unsure if there’s a group chomping at my bits right behind. I will not be denied, kind sir. He’s still in front with a couple hundred meters to go, and I see a good train, six or seven guys deep, of lapped riders. Right in the center of the course. For the final sprint. Ruh roh! I’m completely out of it, incoherent as Courtney Love on stage at a Hole concert, somehow now sprinting, not knowing who these people wearing psychedelic latex clothing are - whoaaa, crazzzy colours, man—- or whether they’re going to think it’s cool to swerve “out of my way” directly into me or something. Dude in blue goes to the right of them, has about 20 meters on me, and I decide to go to the left for fear of being boxed in, rather than taking his slip stream, and we’re sprinting for the line with a cyclist-median-strip between us.
I wasn’t denied. I bellowed as I posted up and crossed the line first, with some Civil War-era / Lemmy Kilmister chops/‘stache facial hair trimmed expressly for this possible photo op. I owe this victory to Devil’s Den State Park and, more importantly, my killer teammates. Hell yes, boys. Hell yes.