It was a day like no other in mid July, it was actually kind of cool outside, not 98 degrees, but more like 75 degrees. I could tell as soon as I walked out the door, it was going to be a good day. I was heading for Staunton the home of the infamous Tour de Donut Bike Race.
I am incredibly out of shape and have been working hard, just to try and get back my fitness level and speed from previous years, so I had no idea how fast or slow I would ride. I pulled together a team of domestiques and hatched a race plan. Mark, Mike, Russ and John were my official domestiques, although both John and Russ told me that they were in no better shape than I was and wouldn’t be much help, I enlisted them anyway. My plan was pretty simple though, if by the second donut stop, I was having any problems hanging on, we would stop and eat donuts and go for the adjusted time win.
|My Domestiques - Mark, Me, Russ, Mike, John|
The next issue to tackle was making sure the team kept all wheels on the ground. Last year, during the first 2 miles, my team was in a crash on Reservoir road. It wasn’t their fault, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This year we had a plan to stay to the right during the hilly section on Reservoir because most people went to the left and the road was a bit smoother on the right. We also planned to go out slow and be safe until we made it out of the crowd. We had a nice surprise that really helped, Christian the race director told me that he planned a neutral start and the lead police car would not go over 15 mph and no one could pass the lead car until Reservoir road. I hoped this would keep the number of accidents down and the crazies from riding like maniacs through the twisting turns leading out of town.
While thinking about the new starting rules, I posed for a photo with the Metro Tri Club and we gave two thumbs up to Patrick Albert, but that’s another story for another time.
|Two Thumbs Up to Patrick Albert|
My team and I staged our bikes about four rows back from the starting line, we listened to the signing of the National Anthem, which was really good, then waited for the horn to sound. The race started and the neutral start was working pretty well, but there were still a couple guys on tri bikes that were weaving in and out of the pack, I thought, “one of those guys is going to crash”. My team was staying pretty close, but the crowd was large, and at the corner turning off Main street the riders were bottlenecked, but we got through ok. We hit Reservoir road and everyone took off. Due to the large number of riders we had a hard time getting out of the crowd, after we crossed the highway, Mike rolled back to pull John up from where he was boxed in and we regrouped. It seemed like only minutes and we were passing the first donut stop. We could see the lead group in the distance and we were all heading for Old 66 where the road was smooth and fast.
Once we made the turn onto Old 66 we had to watch for fast traffic, but things were going well. Mark had been pulling most of the way and after Mike pulled John in from the crowd he started helping Mark pull. Russ got out front and pulled for a long time on Old 66. There was another group of about 10 riders hanging with us, but they were not doing any of the pulling. Russ was still pulling so I yelled to him “drop back and let them do some of the work”. Really though what right do I have to say that, I enlisted all these guys to come do all the work for me. Well I don’t think Russ heard me and the only break he got was when we came upon the big crash on Old 66. A friend of ours was on the ground with about 10 more people and it looked bad. There were a couple trucks stopped helping out, so we just kept riding. Of course, anytime I see a crash, I get extra cautious, so I slowed my pace a little. The thing is, I felt really good, I had legs, so my taking a couple rest days really worked. We were hanging between 20-22 mph for most of the race and I never felt pushed, even on the uphills. We hit the bumpy road section of the route, it was tougher riding just because the pavement was so rough, but we still kept up a good pace, Mark and Mike were doing a great job pulling. John and Russ were hanging with me, plus we still had that other group with us too. I even had to slow down on some uphills because the group that was with us was slowing down and the group was so large we couldn’t get around them on the uphills.
Before I knew it, we were at the second donut stop and heading for the White City hill. Mark looked at me for direction and I said let’s keep going I feel great, so we sped past the second donut stop. We had a long downhill then headed up the largest hill on the course, the hill that goes into White City. At the bottom of the hill we passed a lady on a tri bike and she was riding well, so I pulled up next to her and asked her, her age. I had to know if I would be racing her for the age group win. Lucky for me she was older than me. Mark said he wanted to ask her age, but he knew better than to ask a female her age. I worked my way up the hill staying right on Mark’s wheel, I was smiling because I rode the hill so well. I found out later that Mark was not smiling because he could not slow down and recover since I was still with him. An ambulance sped past us, so we knew there must have been other crash. As we rode we did our best to stay in front of the lady on the tri bike. We also came across Al, another friend and after passing him, we kept working to pick off riders the rest of the way in.
I couldn’t believe it, there we were only about 5 miles from the finish and I was feeling great. We were moving, we crossed the dam and headed up the last of the really big hills, just as Mark got to the top of the hill he yelled for Mike to take over, his legs were screaming. Mike started pulling with Mark and I on his wheel, John and Russ were on my wheel. We made the turn onto Reserviour road and rode up on Mike Wever and Mike Hovatter, the president and treasurer of the Metro Tri Club, then we saw Keith Timmins riding back out, he is the Secretary of the club, of course since I am the vice president of the club, we sort of had a Club board meeting going on. Mike W asked who was pulling for me and I said Mark and Mike, so both Mike W and Mike H jumped on and tried to stay with us. We had lost the other group coming up the hill into White City. We made the turn that many people mistake as the last turn and start sprinting for the finish, but it’s not the last turn there is one more, so most people end up falling off because they started the sprint too soon.
John was doing his best to beat a guy that had been riding with us the entire race and he was in John’s age group. Not even a second before we crossed the line the guy sprinted up and nosed John out. The good this is, it was a chip timed race, so since the guy crossed the start line before John, John still beat him based on chip time. John ended up in 3rd in his age group beating the guy by just a couple seconds.
Mike W tried his best to pull a power play and get us at the line, but Russ squeezed him out and he couldn’t pass. I rolled across the line in a1:38 with an average speed of 20.63 mph. That time put me in 4th place overall in the Female division, 1st in the 40-49 age group and 66th overall. I was extremely happy with that finish, especially for the shape I am in. Oh and there were 1500 in the race. Plus the Metro Tri Girls pulled of a 1,2,3 in the 40-49 age group, with Kate G taking 2nd and Phyllis B taking 3rd.
|Robin - 1st Place|
After the race I found some leftover donuts and ate two, they are so much better when you are hanging out after the race than they are when you are hot and sweating, trying to choke them down. Oh and I found a diet coke to boot.
|Ahhh... Life doesn't get much better|
I also talked to couple guys that either saw the big crash or were in it, they attributed it to someone in the group riding in tri bars, being unstable and taking everyone down. I had to wonder if it was one of the two guys I saw at the start of the race.
As for my riding buddies that crashed, one had a broken collarbone and broken ribs, along with the worst injury of all, a cracked bike frame, the other came out with a broken collarbone. Everyone else was sporting some road rash and bruises.
Of course Mark livened things up with his man skirt and of course he was wearing it the correct European fashion. I won’t say what that is, but you can ask him, next time you see him.
|Hey Mark, what you got under there|
Thanks to my Domestiques for coming out and spending their Saturday morning, dragging my rather large read end around the course. I bought my domestiques what I thought was a really cool gift, but they didn’t come until after the race, so I still have to give them out. They are not really as cool in reality as they were on the internet, but it’s the thought that counts.
|Dan with his daughter|
|Don B - 3rd overall|
|Jim D after 15 donuts|
|Mark and Linda - 2nd Tandum|
|Travis after 12 donuts he looks way too happy|
|Mike H, we are still friends even after battling it out at the finish|