Sunday, April 29, 2007

Punched by Blondie, Angel Eyes, Tuco, and the Devil

While riding by myself during the Devil's Punchbowl Road Race yesterday, I started thinking about one of my all-time favorite movies, "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" starring Clint Eastwood. The three main characters--Blondie, Angel Eyes, and Tuco--are greedy loner outlaws who kill without a second thought, but collude together when motivated by a common goal (finding some hidden gold).

So as I pedaled alone in the desert, in no-man's land behind a three-man break of Crispy Walker, Thurlow Rogers, and Rigo Meza, I started imagining the parallels. They were up there, working together--and easily pulling away--but I was sure at the first sign of weakness, any one of them wouldn't hesitate an instant to attack another, leaving the unfortunate one(s) behind in the desert to whither and die.

I also spent some time trying to match each of them with the most appropriate character (Good, Bad, and Ugly). Unfortunately, I cannot relay my conclusions here, lest they happen upon this blog. You see, no matter how I match them up, two of the three will not be pleased with their assigned characters, and believe me, you do not want any of these guys mad at you!

So how was it that I had time in a bike race for all this day-dreaming? Let me tell you...

Devil's Punchbowl Road Race... Pro/1/2, 5 laps, 80 miles, ~7,500 ft of climbing, 0% humidity, 90+ degree temperatures. Thus, only about 40 starters. [see earlier post for map/profile details if interested.]

Pre-race: Arrange feeders and place extra bottles on car, just in case. Gulp down 24 oz. of V-8.

Lap 1: From the gun, the pace was uncomfortable thanks to one Chris Walker, aka the Vampire, aka Booger, aka Crispy Walker, aka C-Walk (c. Aram). Last year the race started out leisurely, and Chris missed the break because the attacks were too chaotic and numerous. So this year he wanted to simplify things. I quickly realized what he was thinking, and scooted up to the front. By the top of the hill, not even 5 miles into the race, the field was down to 15. MarkZen and I both made this selection. This group rotated pretty smoothly, and I doubt any of the dropped ever reconnected.

Lap 2: Tossed empty bottle under car and grabbed another, getting dropped in the process, so dug deep to rejoin. (Burned a match.) This time up the hill, it's Adam Livingston from SuccessfulLiving who had ants in his chamois and was making the pace uncomfortable. He succeeded in cutting the group in half, and I lost contact just below the top. Turns out Adam lit his entire matchbook on fire and detonated so completely that he nearly came to a stop before reaching the summit. Thanks a lot Adam! But down the other side, I latched onto a big strong Euro dude who absolutely flew down the descent. By the bottom, we were about 15 seconds down on a group of four: Walker, Thurlow, Rigo Meza, and Joe Wiley. I rotated with Big Euro Dude but his pulls were so hard, he eventually dropped me and got across the last 10 seconds by himself. I spent the next couple miles hanging 10 seconds back, trying to steal any draft possible from the follow vehicle (until I got scolded by the motor official) until finally a couple of them sat up to eat and I sprinted across the gap. (Another match gone.) I immediately got into the rotation so none of them would feel compelled to surge and drop me again. An extra 0.5 mph is all it would have taken.

Lap 3: Crispy took over again on the hill, and I'll tell you what... I discovered there is a heart underneath all that sinew, gristle, and veins. I'll be darned if he didn't deliberately set the pace just hard enough to peg me at my limit, but not crack me. He checked my status every couple of minutes, and although my matches were burning steadily, I wasn't cracking. Not so lucky for Big Euro Dude--he went nuclear and was never seen again. At the feed zone, teammates/friends Gary and Steve had bottles for me (Thanks guys!) and life was good. Too good. A few hundred meters before the top, Rigo surged and when I went to strike another match, I discovered the book was empty. The four of them rode away. Only this time, Joe Wiley Coyote used up his matchbook in a fireball and soon he was weaving across the road. As I went by, he offered up his remaining bottle. Class. So there I was, 40 miles down, 40 to go. Chasing three guys ...The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Behind, although I didn't know it, MarkZen and Brandon Gritters had hooked up. And behind them, lots of casualties, marching in the desert like good soldiers.

Lap 4: Tried to settle down into comfortable sustainable effort but found no position was maintainable without onset of debilitating cramps. I punched the inside of my left quad with enough force to tenderize beef. It worked. Two people drove by as I climbed and offered feeds. Big hearts, understanding souls. Mike Crystal fed me, as did solid teammate Cookie. Random guy offered me a Red Bull. Stupidly I said "no thanks". Up in the distance, I saw two figures being pursued by one. Turns out Thurlow came off on the hill--attacked in a moment of weakness--but rejoined on the descent. That would be the last I saw of them until after the race. So now my attention shifted to keeping 4th place. I looked back after the descent and saw nobody. Weird.

Lap 5: I mashed through the start/finish but got all caught up in the next waves of races being started. I blew by the women and juniors, and started catching Masters 4/5s. Not much to say about this last lap... my focus shifted to survival and anything I could do to avoid cramping. Highlight of the lap was getting yet another bottle--the 8th of the day--from Cookie. What a guy, hangs in the feed zone, car battery dies, gets help from Adam Livingston's wife whose dog bites his finger! Anyway, I survived and rolled in 4th, many minutes behind Rigo (1st), Thurlow (2nd), and Chris (3rd). Gritters and MarkZen got 5th and 6th.

Afterward, as we waited for official results and envelopes, I slumped in the shade and teetered on the edge of puking. Walker on the other hand, sat in the sun the entire time and didn't sweat a drop. It was 95 degrees.


TnA said...

Your race reports rock...and so do you.

BTW, that "big euro dude" was apparently none other than one "Bjorn Andersson", a professional triathlete well known for the massive drop on his tri bike. Here's a link to another view of the race (Joe W. is "sojourner):;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread

Marco Fanelli said...

Thanks TnA! Wow, that forum had real-time race updates from the desert this high-tech world getting crazy or what?!? I love it!

Bjorn Andersson... I wasn't sure who he was, but I can tell you that he is one huge motor. I'll have to google him...

We are quite familiar with Joe Wiley, as he absolutely smoked the 2's TT at CVC in March. Later Cody told us that Joe lives out in the desert and did some training with Kodak/Sierra Nevada when they had a camp out there. The guy really impressed DS Kurt Stockton.

Hmmm... should I post into that thread, or would they be bothered by my take on the race and each of their spectacular detonations?

TnA said...

Well...the guy who owns that site is Dan Empfield (aka "Slowman") who was the founder of Quintana Roo, I believe, lives either on, or just off the course. I think that "Monty" guy lives out there too. That's why they had the "live updates"...gotta love the internet, huh?

I'm not sure if I've got Bjorn's last name spelled right, but google up the 2005 "Norseman" triathlon and you should get the spelling and a look at a pretty "extreme" race!

Go ahead and post, they won't bite...if you don't, I'll put up the link to your blog anyway ;-)

Henri said...

great report, sound like a monster race! tangled on the mtb bike with some uglies from socal at Firestone, see ya