Sunday, November 24, 2019

Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy


First let me start off by saying that the title of this blog was suggested to me, not one of my own choosing. Not that it's not a great title for the blog but Captain Adequate would have reflected reality a little bit better. Any who, a few weeks ago Michael approached me about an idea for a new kind of gravel race that some of the guys at the Trek Store had come up with and asked if I would be the Team Captain for the West Team. The basic concept was that there would be two teams, one made up of folks living East of where the Platte River flows between Lincoln and Omaha and the other made up of folks living West of the Platte.


I would be remiss if I forgot to include Jason in the blog, everyone say hello to Jason.


I accepted the job of team captain and began getting the word out and recruiting riders that I would hopefully be able to lead to a victory. The East captain took a different approach and lead the East team from the leather, probably heated, seat of his Toyota. Everyone has their own idea of leadership, who is to say which way is better, I mean absentee leaders seem like a good idea.







Race day was a little on the chilly side but not horrible for mid-November and the turn out was fantastic, I think there were about 133 registered rides and I think all but a handful of those who were registered showed up ready to race.




A few announcements were made prior to the start, I said a few words of motivation for my team (for which I was told I had won and Academy Award for but still have not seen said award) and then it was time to race after a brief paved neutral roll out.






Since I was actually trying to take this race a little bit more serious than I do most races, there weren't a whole lot of pictures. The fairly decent breeze and softer roads meant a lot of time churning pedals with the head down, doing work. I ended up riding most of the race with Scott and Pat, with a little back and forth with Joe thrown in for good measure. Always more motivating to see friends out on course, even more so when you're able to pace it out with a couple of them.


Right around mile 23 was the one and only SAG stop, I thought I had enough water to get me through to the end but since I knew I wanted to try to kick it up a notch on the way back I figured I might as well top off. The cokes that were there looked so delicious but I didn't want to lollygag so I had Kris throw one in the stash pocket and took off on down the road after what was probably the quickest turn around ever for me at a SAG stop.


Once we turned south I put a little more oomph into pedaling as per the plan and started slowly catching folks, which was also part of the plan. Even had a little bit of a cheering section on the last leg of the race, ole gals kept telling me to moooooovvveee it.


Pat must have had the same idea because after we crossed over the finish we both busted out those finisher cokes, probably one of the best tasting cokes I've had in recent memory. Definitely a coke and a smile moment.





Always nice to have friends to share the finish with also, even got to watch a few of them come in.


After waiting for a little bit to watch a few folks come in we made the slow ride back to Parker's for a well earned pull pork sammich and some socializing with those already there.


A little over an hour later all the racing was done and it was time to announce the winner, unfortunately it wasn't the West team. Was it a bit of a let down, sure, but nobody got hurt and it looked like everyone had a great time so in the end that is all that really mattered. We raised money to help fight cancer and we got to race bikes on a decent November day. I heard some grumblings about folks worrying that they had let the team down or had lost the race for the West, to those people I say poo poo. We lost as a team, no one person lost the race for us and no one person could have won it for us on their own; it was a team effort. The only other thing I have to say on that matter and something I think that really did affect the outcome was the team rule. If one team had more riders than the other than those "extra" riders wouldn't be counted to make things "fair" but in reality I think this gave the East a huge advantage as they had roughly 20 more riders than we did. So essentially what that meant is that their 20 slowest riders or DNF riders didn't count towards their points, the big one for points were DNF folks as they got maximum points (around 100 points). Obviously if you can eliminate all your DNF or folks who struggled a little bit that helps tremendously, it amounted to not counting the bottom 3rd of all their racers. If the East tells you that didn't affect the outcome, ask them how they would feel if we took the top 3rd or even the middle 3rd of their racers... kind of puts that advantage into more perspective. I think for next year this rule might have to be tweaked a little bit or at least I think it needs to be tweaked a bit. Not to be a sore loser though, the East beat us under the rules that were in effect for the race and we didn't pull it out when it was all said and done but it was super close and we all gave it out best effort, at the end of the day you can't ask for anymore than that.


The West Team or at least those who hadn't ducked out early. Great group of men and women!

As for my own personal race and race plan, well being a 40 mile race I figured if I went out quick but controlled for the first 10-15 miles then I would have a little extra time in the hilly section before hopefully being able to pick it up on the way back. As it turned out, that plan worked to perfection! As you can see from the stats my fastest hour of racing was the last hour and then the sprint for the finish. After coaxing the Pugsley to cruise down the gravel at that speed my legs were shot, had it been a 60 mile race there is a real chance that a bonk would have been in my recap but as it turned out it was a great plan, executed to perfection. One of the things I was able to manage best was not having a ton of non moving time, according to the stats the one SAG stop only cost me a total of 50 seconds; not bad, not bad at all. Not my normal race for sure but I did feel a little added pressure to perform as well as I could, lot of responsibility wearing that captain's hat, you know.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Spell Check Doesn't Like Bennet


It's like the Mater of the bicycle world but when you have to bike to work and bring in another bike, you do what you have to do. Damon knows how to tow in style.




Saturday was another beautiful November day to be out riding bicycles in the country with friends, almost a perfect day.. almost. Temps made it into the 60 degree range but with a brisk wind out of the south, southeast it felt a little chillier than the temps suggested.




The plan for Saturday was a jaunt out to Bennet since we haven't been out that way in almost 11 months. Crazy to still see farmers out harvesting and preparing the fields for winter, inside that cloud of corn stalk dust is a combine still threshing crops in late November and the roads were still somewhat busy with large trucks.




We were either directly into or mostly into that stiff headwind all the way out to Bennet but you'd never be able to tell the way the guys and gals were blazing up and down the gravel waves.


All that speed makes a person mighty thirsty, which of course meant a ditch beer stop, in an official #sovag Yeti Koozie.




The wind did batter the folks a bit more than expected and water was becoming a bit of an issue for some folks, so it was decided to make a little short cut on route and take the highway for a mile and swing by Casey's for a refill. David took this to mean that he should find the first sharp object on the asphalt and run it over, he did a fine job finding a large staple to flatten his tire.


I of course got quite tickled that we happened to stop at "Justin" Timber Lake for the flat repair.



Tire fixed it was a quick spin up to the Casey's where we promptly refilled water, grabbed something to eat and hung out on the leeward side of the building... next to the poison traps.





Since we stopped at the Casey's just outside of Bennet, we opted not to stop at the bar in Bennet so it was just a roll through. Bennet once upon a time was a booming railroad town and the social center of Lancaster county, well before Lincoln got it's legs underneath it and eventually surpassed Bennet as the big city. Bennet was originally named Bennett's Station after the then Vice President of the Midland Pacific Railway, John Bennett, that ran from Lincoln to Nebraska City. So what happened to the second T and the prosperity of single T Bennet, well the Great Depression for one and I suspect the advent and subsequent affordability of the automobile making the once seemingly remote town of Lincoln much easier and quicker to get to. One thing is for sure, in the 1930s folks began leaving Bennet for the big city and have only recently started to return to this Lincoln bedroom community. As for that missing T, well, that never has been found.


Things went a little sideways leaving Bennet, the front decided to bypass Bennet Road; the designated turn and instead went as far as they could until hitting a T intersection and took Apple Road. We sent out a search party but those folks were gone, if you're going to make a navigational mistake do it really fast so nobody can tell you you're going the wrong way. We finally did get in contact with them and they said they were pushing on instead of coming back. Would they survive, would their oxen die, would their group come down with dysentery? Only time would tell.



Our group continued on the designated route and met up with the advanced party of the separated group at 120th and Bennet Road, there we discovered that fate of the other party. They all survived their navigational mistake and awaited us a bit farther up 120th.




Back as one group and with the wind at our backs now, we made a hasty retreat back to Lincoln, much like the Bennet-ites of the 1930s and the end of the SMDNFBR for the week. No ride next week so that we can represent the West in the East West Groveler race out in Ashland, should be a good time and a great change of pace.