dnf

7 10 2007

Racing the A race is the way to go.  I got up at 7:30 yesterday.  A year ago I’d have been on the road for at least an hour by then.

Given the proximity to the outlet mall it was relatively easy to recruit Nita and Jimbo to join in for the day and we loaded up the bike and the dogs around 9 for the drive down th Hagerstown.   Generally uneventful on the way down, though we made an errant stop for coffee that took us on a detour through one of the weirder towns I’ve seen.  Admittedly, I can’t recall the name of the place, but a large billboard on the highway drew us in for a local coffee roaster.  When we got there, we were bewildered by the coffee selection, hundreds of varieties.  And by the time we’d gathered it all in, we started to realize that there were none of the normal trappings of a coffee shop.  No one drinking coffee, no apparent espresso machine, no sound of milk frothing, and no air pots from which to dispense. Finally I asked and they didn’t serve any brewed coffee!  only beans!   I figured they’d know the dish on a good alternative and they sent us to a miserable health food cafe that was more interested in dispensing new age advice than food.  And, worse yet, they served Green Mountain Coffee, which is a gas station staple, when they had a local roaster (of unknown quality) just down the road!

With at least some dubious caffeine coursing through Jim’s veins we headed on to the course and found a dusty hot track with the B race already in motion.  Several of the old regulars were on course, with E-town stirring it up in the front and Rotten Rob digging deep mid pack.  In between events I got out on the course and found it to be hot and hard.  The dry ground made for a bumpy course and getting the tire pressure right was tough.  I ran a lap at 42 and a lap at 25 (I let a bit too much out by accident).  25 felt fabulous, but I kept looking down at the tires wondering when I would flat.  I settled in at 40 and spun around during the women’s race watching the lines and looking for the best way around the course.  I managed to bump into many of the old cross crowd: Fat Marc, E-town, Morgan, Rob, Chad, Hebe, Mayhew, Gunner and got caught up on cross gossip, who’s riding well, who’s not.  The consensus was that most everyone was riding better than last year and I wondered whether I’d be able to say the same.

At the line-up for the start we sat through a long reading of names that were absent and racing out in Southampton.  In all there weren’t more than 8 riders that were able to take advantage of the call up before the scrum piled in.  I got a descent position, two rows back and on the right, which was the side I’d been riding in practice.  At the whistle I managed to get clipped in fast and pulled off a descent start by my standards.  Maybe 20th position when the course squeezed down with guys throwing elbows and pushing each other around to get to smoother track that was well ridden in.  The course opened up with a series of long side hills with open dusty patches that made it hard to see more than two riders ahead.  The turns dropped down to a set of fast twisty turns that ultimately led into the one dismount a set of double barriers near the pit.  Then around a long flat and a quick sand pit into an open stretch with some asphalt that was a good opportunity to gain ground.  Then the course turned up and hit what would have been a run-up on a wetter course, but was a soft, dusty rideable wall climb that brought us back around to the starting area.  I managed to gain a few places in the first lap, and a few more on the second as guys who initially blew up started fading back.  I had Chad’s wheel in my sights for 3 laps and slowly bridged up to him.  On the way I collected Gunner and towed him up to Chad and few others.  I made attacks along the long side hills to try and break up the group until we were down to a consistent 4: me, Chad, Gunner, and a guy from Haymarket bikes. We turned in a few laps together, looking a head to the lead group of 7 ahead of us that was being driven by Steve-o Cummings.  I saw the lap counter go down to 6 to go and hoped that I’d be able to hold on that long as the dust and heat started to make every pedal stroke hurt.  Coming around to hit 5 to go I was leading the bunch into a fast, but otherwise innocuous left hand turn when my front wheel washed out from under me and I went down.  When I got up the tire was dead flat, chain off, and handlebars askew.  I made a quick pass at fixing things but quickly realized that I was too far from the pit to justify a run and I packed it in.

I slumped into the shad pretty dejected, my first DNF ever in a race.  But Nita and Jim assured me that I’d been riding well, just rounding out the top 10 and not loosing ground to the lead group.  As I watched the rest of the race unfold I was pretty sure I’d have been able to stick to that position.  So, as the race wrapped up, my spirits lifted and I walked away pretty confident that I was riding well enough to give it a go in the A field this year.  Certainly, it will be another story when the big boys aren’t off playing in the Hamptons, but so long as I think I can finish a race without getting lapped, I think I can justify a spot on the start line for the main event.  And, the extra few hours of sleep are well worth it!

On the return trip we managed a pretty successful round of outlet shopping as well.  Nita was in her element and took an early lead, steering Jim and I through the retail jungle.  Big props to the folks at Coach, who let Bo and Sophie into the store. We all walked away with our credit lines intact, but a fair few bargains were had by all.

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2 responses

7 10 2007
dave

Matt,

I think that was Greencastle Coffee Roasters. I’ve made the same stop (looking for brewed coffee) and had the same disappointment…

D.

31 10 2007
camp

Yep, that’s Greencastle Roasters, the next town south of mine.
When I once asked the owner why I couldn’t buy a cup of brewed coffee there, he went off and railed about how could he possibly brew enough different varieties to satisfy every customer?? He gave us a fridge magnet filled with strange sayings like the Dr. Bonner’s campsoap bottles. We regularly buy his beans though.

Future reference, get off a couple exits sooner at Chambersburg/Rt 30 for a good local coffee shop, and the ubiquitous “green behemoth” coffee shop.

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