Friday, July 20, 2007

2003 - Starting to Race / The Regional Racer’s Revenge

Tom Stevens, cyclocross guru/course artist/musician/frame builder/my longtime coach/seen-it-all racer, took a group of New England riders to Altoona with the Gearworks team: Zoe Owers, Katheryn Curi, Marianne Stover, and me. He was super-human as a director, if hard on clutches. We didn’t have many matches to burn, pretty much rode to survive. Not to say we were not fighting – Zoe tenaciously contested the Johnstown finish for an impressive 11th, , setting the tone for all of us, Katheryn had at least one top 10 on the tough climbing days, and I made the break at Martinsburg. This was also the year I finally rode a good crit, positioning myself well, only to have the race canceled in a dramatic thunderous downpour. But we were starting to race! Another theme of the race was the regional racer’s revenge: Genevieve Jeanson attacked early on Wednesday’s 100-mile stage, splitting the field. All of us except Katheryn missed the split. The other regional riders and I, here to race for gc even if it was 40th place, wanted to chase, and grew frustrated with the resignation of the pros in our group. Meshy Holt cheerfully offered me a cookie, responding to my question “Doesn’t Genevieve need you?” with “she doesn’t need anyone.” And we noodled, painfully so, and my worry over caffeine consumption in gels grew as we were on track for a 6-hour stage ending past 6pm. Ina Teutenburg marshaled us on the climb, ordering us to slow down. After the race, my friends and I were stewing at being bossed around, about having our gc hopes dashed. In another stage, Zoe had Ina’s wheel coming into the sprint, Lyne Bessette said “That’s my wheel,” and pushed her off, and Zoe’s stubborn ire grew. On Saturday, I made a decent group on Blue Knob, Katheryn made a great group, but Zoe was in the group shaping up as the laughing group. Ina once again ordered the riders around her to assemble and slow down on the climb, and Zoe attacked right out of the bunch, rode the remaining 50 miles of the race in a small group. Another regional friend, Laura Schmidt, reveled in the revenge (as we all did), exclaiming: “Zoe was my hero!” Now that I understand the “pro” perspective, the delegation of roles on a team, the huge volume of energy wasted in riding solo off the back, the idea that not everyone is racing for gc, and that Ina is probably the best bike racer out there (and can climb as well as anyone when she feels like it), this story makes me laugh. This might also be the year I realized that the Jaffa Mosque where Saturday's road race is staged is not a beacon of cultural understanding in easily-stereotyped rural Pennsylvania, but a parody.

No comments: