Saturday, August 26, 2006

What I'll do to race tandem

Saturday, 26 August

Apparently men will go to extremes to get out of racing tandem with me. After our painful experience last Sunday, Jamie was still committed to race with me at the state hillclimb championship at Crystal Mountain today. But he had to go and crash on the track last night, getting some major booboos and bruises. He thought it best not to punish himself any more by racing with me today.

But I didn't find this out until on my way to Crystal, with the tandem on the roof. So I checked in for the race and told them that Jamie wasn't going to be my partner and I'd be back as soon as I found someone in the parking lot who'd ride with me. (That raised a few eyebrows--and harkened back to Kerry's term for me.) I had to proposition three men before I was successful; all had zero experience as tandem captain but I trusted their bike handling skills. Corrie agreed to race with me, and there were about 90 minutes between our individual starts and the tandem start, so we'd have time to get the bike ready.

Wow, they repaved parts of Crystal Mountain Blvd recently, and it was a pretty smooth trip up the hill on my single bike. From the car, I thought I could do this on my big ring (it's a 50), but oh no, I got about 500 meters into the hill and shifted back to the little ring. Happily for me, I caught 4 women on my trip up the hill, including the one I "needed" to beat. The climb is 6 miles, and at about mile 3.5 I was thinking that it was too long. I tried to remind myself that just last week I'd done a 9.5-mile hillclimb without major meltdown. There was a headwind on the downhill section, so there was never a sensation of going even sort of fast. My time was 35 seconds slower than 2005, but there was no tailwind in the last 2 miles this time. All in all, I was happy with how I rode.

One of the funky features of this race is a special prize for the fastest fattest rider, so to speak (Jamie had his eye on this one). So after you finish, they weigh you and your bike, and then they weigh you (if you want to play this part of the game). Come to find out my basic K2 Mod 5 with FSA wheels weighs in at a whopping....15.5 pounds. No wonder I get blown around in the wind!

With some fiddling, we got the tandem set up for Corrie, and with some coaching, we started out and headed down the hill. How would you like to learn to ride a tandem by setting off down a 6-mile twisty descent? We found out the brakes squeak but had no other "issues." There was a holder for our start, so our race started smoothly. And it kept going smoothly all the way to the top. It took a little longer than my single-bike time, but I never had the feeling that we would never get there. Another tandem started 30 seconds in front of us; we caught them within 60 seconds and finished EIGHTEEN MINUTES ahead of them. Of course, they had a boom box on the rack on the back of their Bike Friday tandem and were passing beer and other goodies back and forth when we went by. I'm not sure which of us had the better ride....

The sun was out allllll day long, there was a fun post-race BBQ, and there was some nail-biting while riders tried to figure out their BARR points and who had won their categories. We all got to ogle Ian McK's new national champion's skinsuit--and congratulate him, of course. Thanks to Corrie for being a trooper and riding with me; and thanks to Leslie and Tracy for another fun day on their tandem. Heal fast, Jamie!

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