Monday, April 6, 2009

Joseph Sheehan RR, Leavenworth, KS

What a wonderful race… if you like riding in wind, cold, rain, sleet, and snow!

Before I talk about the race though, let me say CONGRATULATIONS TO NATE AND KAREN SCHOTANUS who were wed on Saturday. It was a wonderful wedding and a great reception (despite my MC’ing). I was honored to take part.

After a beautiful sunny spring day pondering love and celebrating nuptials, Sunday’s cold dark morning came hard and early. Actually, at 7am, it was as warm as it was going to be all day. The race started at 8:50am. The rain started at 8:40am. And the temps started dropping before that. I changed three times before the start and finally settled on fleece knicks with three layers on top- wool/longsleeve jersey/rain jacket. Incidentally, the rain jacket I just got from Volker the day before saved my day.

Wind was the order of the day, with rain- then driving sleet- and finally snow, mixed in. Brad W. and I briefly discussed strategy before the start and settled on: “Just Survive”. Unfortunately, Brad dropped a chain midrace and couldn’t get his fingers to work well enough to get it back on. Ask anyone in this race and they’ll tell you they had no feeling in their hands after about 20 minutes of racing.

It was a battle through the head and cross winds all the way out to Atchison. Then we turned around and had the wind behind us on our way back. As soon as we turned with the wind, two 360’s jumped on the front and started shoveling coal. Chris from Renaissance and a couple of SKC’s latched onto them and I got on their wheel. For the next several miles it was a matter of hanging on. Anyone still in the race was strung out in a line. I looked at my computer at one point while cranking hard to keep up on a flat section and it read 58kph.

Finally after 10 miles they let off the gas and nobody else wanted to take control. Then just after I saw the 10K sign, Chris started surging off the front and forcing everyone to chase him. At this point I was getting pretty deep and wondering if I’d last to the finish. Things were turning white in my periphery and it wasn’t snowing anymore.

Then, in a dreamy haze, I saw the 150m sign. At first I just kept cranking up the hill with everyone else while my frozen brain slowly processed it. Then it hit me: 150 METERS!!! I jumped up and lowered my head. I got around 4 riders but was unable to get up to a SKC and Bike Shack rider still in front of me.3rd place. My first cash payout. I actually left for home 10 bucks richer! As I write this, I am still warming up…

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