The thunder woke me around 7. Rain pelted the windows. No light came from around the curtains. In the bathroom, water dripped from a crack in the ceiling into the sink, a metronome counting out no particular time. “Shit.” I thought, “What a lovely day for bicycle racing.”
My phone lit the room like a slow bolt of lightining. A message from Robinson. “13 registered riders in the road race!” I replied, predicting the actual turnout would be exactly 0, citing the incipient fall of the sky itself as the primary cause. Boedi and Rob assured me this was nonsense and that the weather would change. So under great encouragement (which felt at the time more like great duress) from my teammates, I got my gear together and waited for Boedi to give me a lift to Rob’s place.
Now, Rob is from Texas, which means he eats Mexican food for breakfast. So, after chowing down on eggs, rice and quinoa on tortillas with lots of Cholula, my new favorite pre-ride meal, Rob handed me a mason jar of what looked like fresh goat blood. Disappointingly, it turned out to be beet juice. It did make me feel better, though, and I stopped being such a pessimistic twatwaffle. Resigned to our destiny, we waded out to the car and drove to Houma, precipitation persisting the entire way.
We met up with Stu at the Mariott and found the registration booth, which happened to be the front seat of an SUV and by this time the rain had died off. We had also received word the road race was cancelled due to massive disorganization, lack of police support, and poor course marking. The Cat 1,2,3 riders had set out, apparently taken a wrong turn, found themselves with lack of protection, off course, and had to be called back. So there would be no road race for the Cat 4,5 riders either. There would however be a criterium and a time trial, so all was not lost. At least it was not raining. At least we would ride. At least, back at home, the ceiling was just leaking into the sink.
Rob and I threw on our kits; matching Roulandrian Flag jerseys from Rouler and mismatched shorts. We got our bikes assembled and set out to warm up before the crit. We rode 50 meters along the parking lot, turned the corner of the hotel, and found all of the Cat 4,5 riders massed underneath an awning, next to finish line equipment and a race clock. The crit was about to begin. Stone cold, Rob and I took places at the back of the pack, and waited 4 seconds for the race to begin.
The crit went down like this:
Bang, zoom, straight to the corner. 20 minutes plus 10 laps. The course was a big square, with the last turn a bit tighter than the rest (ignore the geometric impossibility of that idea).
Start: From jump there was a breakaway. Rob worked with the lead pack to pull it back. The speed of the first 10 minutes felt like the highest of the whole race, as a result of chasing the break and driving home the message that nobody was going off the front solo.
Lap 3: I fell off the back early on, and fought to close a 10 meter gap from the lead pack for about 10 laps. I felt like a dweeb chasing after the pack and with such a gap, a tag-along turd. “Wait for me guys!”
Lap 20ish: Behind me, riders were getting pulled out the race as they were lapped. Ahead of me the speed of the pack began to flag a bit when it became apparent a breakaway was futile, and riders began to wait each other out. Robinson had made his way back towards the front. I was able to catch up to him and together we made our way into top positions.
6 Laps to Finish: Rob had been pulling for a while, and seemed to be getting tired. I pushed around him to take the pull before he could come unglued and let a wheelsucker slip by. For the remainder of the race he and I held the front.
Finish: Rob asks me at the very beginning “How are you doing?” “Huffing and puffing,” came my reply. Rob heard “I’m pumping.” Despite a complete communication breakdown it was tacitly agreed that changing positions was too risky and I would have to hammer it out in front until the final attack. It came just before the final turn, with Boyd, Robinson, and Breaux sprinting around me. I jumped to sprint after them. Rob and I both came into the final turn white hot, and had to feather the brakes to avoid slapping the curb. Fortunately the riders behind him were able to predict and ride the turn out safely. Unfortunately, behind me, Stanton came in too hot, maybe trying to pass in the final turn, and hit the wall behind me.
Results: Robinson Sudan takes 1st Place, Richard Carman takes 4th in the criterium. Our team wins. More detail available here.
Stu took us back to his place where we ate veggie sandwiches, drank more goat blood, and watched Le Tour on DVR. Stu confirmed my suspicion that he was a man of fine taste when he offered us La Croix in a bottle. I didn’t even know they came like that. Shortly later we headed out to the time trial.
What can really be said for a time trial?
It was muggy. Headwind out, much less tailwind back than one would have expected. Straight shot, 3.5 miles down the bayou, sharp 2 lane turnaround (literally turning around an orange traffic cone), and the same 3-and-a-half back. For some reason the finish was 200 meters before the start, which snuck up and killed my chance to sprint the finish. All in all, fairly uneventful.
Results: Robinson Sudan takes 2nd, Richard Carman takes 3rd, finish times 1 second apart. Smells like more winning to me.
Although we had come to do a road race on Saturday, being thrown headlong into my first crit was probably the best way it could have happened. Having made a pretty good showing the first day, we didn’t feel too inclined to come back for the same crit again at 930 AM. Instead we appeared at the Rouler party at Manhattanjack, still in our team kits, took advantage of the open bar and had a solid recovery meal of sausage salad and chocolate cookies with red wine.
Sparing a few minutes wandering around the parking lot, unable to find the registration-mobile, Robinson was really positive and in good spirits all day. Boedi was a champ for coming along to support, and shot some really great video and stills. Big ups to Stu for being such a great host and keeping us fueled and hydrated all day. It was a great weekend with you guys, thanks for everything. Our team wins.
Yeah You Ride