Boulevard Road Race: 45+
Boulevard–maybe the hardest race of the year? Between the early race date, the freaking “green mile”, the 4-mile climb, and the crazy weather it’s a wonder that we show up at all. I don’t think that I have missed one in 17 years. I have, however, NOT finished this race twice. I even had to hitch a ride one time after cramping badly while climbing over the railroad tracks.
It was so bad, I actually coasted to a stop and fell over. That was fun.
I’m supposed to be a climber, and I am usually an aggressive racer, but a few years back I decided that to simply FINISH Boulevard I would have to “just” ride the race; no attacks, no chases, no efforts past simple surges in the safety of the main group. That worked and I did finish a few in a row. I even started to develop a sense of security about the race.
Saturday we line up with some tough masters racers. Amgen is missing big hitters Roger Worthington and the bulletproof Rich Meeker, but the have ex-Big Orange hard guy Steve Klasna, national champ “handsome” Malcolm Hill, and world champion Thurlow Rogers, who is successfully coming back from a really nasty shoulder injury and a nice bout of the flu! Jessup Auto Plaza has Benny Parks, who drove our small breakaway and won Poor College Kids RR last weekend. Spy has a handful of guys who we always have to watch, including Alan Flores, John Hatchit and the Wankmeister himself, Seth Davidson. Big Orange had a great squad. We had new guys Jimmy Robbins, Jeff Bryant, and John Hall; tough guy Michael Hotten; former Bully winner Todd Darley; and hard guy Jeff Konsmo, fresh off a Silver Medal at the the national road race. Oh, and me. I was there too.
We begin the race and I am amped rolling out of the campground. Our race plan is fairly simple: Jeff K, John Hall, and I will sit tight and let the other guys cover moves and drive the pace as they feel necessary.
We BLAST the downhill and it is a little unnerving as we are descending a super minimum technical road. At 50mph, it’s a little sketch. I look up and we are actually chasing Spy’s Alan Flores and “free roaming vapor” Todd Parks. We catch them along the “green mile” section. Todd has a flat. Alan continues to attack any time there is a tiny lull in the pace. I think that he might get a bit of space when guys just get tired of covering his moves. Perhaps not a bad strategy, if he can make it work.
We hit the main climb and I remember that there is a King Of The Mountains competition each lap and that the KOM is about 2 miles up the main climb. Initially, I think I will ramp up the speed and possibly lead out Konsmo, since he is such a good closer, but as I am settling in to my climb there is NOBODY on my wheel! I put my head down and concentrate on blasting away.
I look back as I approach 1,000 meters to the KOM and HERE COMES THURLOW. Oh. Great. He will rocket by me at the line no problem. As he catches me, I attack HARD! I hear him grumble as I cross the line first. Yeah, me! Thurlow catches up and is upset that I attacked him as he was bridging to me. I said, “sorry, man, I was going for the KOM.”
He said, “what?”
Soooo, as a personal note and major tip from the vault of G$ top secret tactics, it is MUCH easier to win a race when the other people don’t know that they are racing. Write that down.
Yes, Thurlow didn’t know about the KOM. Possibly, the entire 45+ crew was oblivious. Better for me!
Anyway, we are now WAY off the front as we go past the race finish line and we have 2 more hours of racing ahead. It’s just the 2 of us, but with Thurlow in tow that’s not a bad engine if you gotta do something really stupid like this. We trade short pulls and I really don’t think anyone will catch us. If we reach that freakin’ down hill we will push 60mph. Last year, he and I got away on the last lap and on the descent we hit a max speed of 58.
Well, we got caught just before the long downhill. Wow. I was surprised, but, okay, maybe they chaser got a bit tuckered out doing the chasing.
Again, we all bomb down the hill and I can’t wait to get to the bottom. I’m secretly loving it. We make it down alive and hit the hardest section of the course. There are some micro-moves and everyone looks fine. Great. I speak with Konsmo and John Hall. They look awesome, relaxed. My legs are tired.
We get back to the main climb. I position myself at the front and hit the jets as soon as I get around the corner. I feel good and I think I’m clear again! I settle in, look back, and HERE COMES THURLOW! Here we go again. A few others catch us about 1,000 meters from the KOM. I attack, blasting up the gravel and crack filled gutter. I go clear and take the KOM. Wheeew, now I am really tired. I hope I can make it another lap. I’m wondering if I have enough points to get the KOM Jersey. Who got second and third on the last two? Not that I could add any numbers together this second anyways.
Thru the feed zone I get a great handoff from Lauren Mulwitz, aka, Mighty Mouse. She hands me liquid life in the form of Power-Aid and Electro-Mix (http://www.emergenc.com/index.php/products/specialty/electro-mix). That stuff is GOLD!
Our new team ‘ride’ is the GIANT TCR, compliments of Ted’s Manhattan Cycles, and it can climb!
Konsmo, John Hall, and I have made the selection and there are only about 8 of us left. We work pretty well together and reach the bottom of the long downhill. Guys seem worried about guys catching back on, but I am confident that, since they got dropped on the hardest section, if they catch they will be a bit winded from a LONG chase.
There are some more mini-attacks as we approach the green section of road and we are caught by a few chasers. Wow. That was a pretty good little chase!
I get a bit antsy and I am wondering how my legs will feel on the final climb. And I hate finishing with a bunch.
I test my legs as we hit the crazy false flat by the hollering farm kids. “Go FAST,” they say. I feel like both tires are flat…the brakes must be rubbing…am i pulling a KITE!?
I get some real estate. I didn’t think they would let me get an inch. I put my head down and hit the jets. I look back and (say it with me) HERE COMES THURLOW! Dang it! Can’t I do anything by myself!?
We hit the main climb. I feel good. Thurlow looks more tired than usual but, as my ,other would say, ‘he has more toughness in his little pinkie than most people have in their bodies.’ Right you are, Mom. We approach the KOM again. It does not interest Thurlow and I take the third one.
I’m really tired but still feeling pretty good. I wonder if i can beat Thurlow in a sprint. I’ve only done it once. The motor comes up to us and tells us that there is a guy about 20 seconds back and a group at about 40 secs. I look back. It’s Konsmo! Yes! We win, we win, we win. That’s all I can think. I’m so relieved. There is no way we can lose with two against one. Heck, maybe we go 1 and 2. Thurlow knows we need to hold Konsmo off. He wants me to pull.
I say, “I think I’m gonna wait.”
I sit up.
Thurlow says, “I’ll give you the win,if you get us to the line ahead of him.”
I get back on it with Thurlow glued to my wheel. We finish 1 and 2. Konsmo is 3rd. Benny Parks is 4th and the Big O’s secret weapon John Hall is 5th! It’s a great day for Big Orange (and its generous sponsors) on what we call the hardest race of the year. Umm, check out those shades! Yeah, Spy!