Monday, April 13, 2009

How I Won the Nashville Super 80

This past Saturday I won another bike race, dominating the competition with a display of raw strength and power that redefined the bounds of what was heretofore considered possible of a "mortal" man.

I was awesome.

Me me me me me me me.

Get it?

Hmmm ... That's Not What I Heard

Oh, all right.

I was very fortunate to be a member of the Harpeth Cutters team this past Saturday, at the Music City Motorplex at the State Fairgrounds, when we won the inaugural Nashville Super 80 Bicycle Race. We managed to beat the other teams by four laps, averaging around 25 mph on single-speed bikes with flat (i.e., no clipping in and no toe-strap) pedals, going around the 0.8 mile banked track.

It was painful, it was hectic, it was exhilirating, and it was a blast.

Chance Favors the Prepared Mind

Again, the victory was a testimony to preparation and training. Les Wooldridge, our captain, put together an incredible team of athletes, including Connie Weisner, Vic Hardin, Bill Glass, Lisa Starmer, Greg Turner, Don Mason, Laura Reinert, and Bob Rowland. He then added me, RandoBoy, for plucky comic relief. And to give the other teams a bit of a chance.

Here we are at the end of the race doing jumping jacks.

Once Les had assembled his "crack" team, he then put together a strategy: Go in the direction that the other teams were going, but faster.


Okay, there was more to it. He had us all get on the bikes at the track early, so we knew just what was going to be demanded of us. If you've ever ridden a single-speed bike with 67.4 gear inches you know why: You gotta spin. Fast. If you want to keep the speed over 20, you better be able to maintain a cadence of at least 120.

We're talking Road Runner here just before he goes "beep-beep" and flips the coyote off.

Les also acquired two bikes that suited our range of sizes (see picture above), and got Bill Glass to tweak the rides so that they were in top shape and easy to quickly configure for each rider during the race. As a fellow randonneur, Bill knows how to do this better than anyone. He is the MacGyver of Bicycles.

Bill also spins better than anybody. He and Les, during the training rides, were the only ones who could get these bikes over 30 mph.

Here's Bill coming across the finish line to take the checkered flag.

Bill got this assignment largely due to his years of racing: He was one of the few of us that could be trusted to take his hands off the bars like this.

By the way, if you don't think total preparation of a bicycle before a race is important, ask the RandoWife. Her group, Team Lanterne Rouge, came in third -- about one lap behind the second-place Wheel Banditos. On one of their team bikes, the rear wheel locked up about half-way around the track. Their rider cut a hole in his leg, and had to then shoulder the bike cyclo-cross style and run it back to the pit.

Here's the RandoWife riding for her team. Note that this bike has a rear derailleur, but it was locked down so she couldn't shift. This was their replacement bike for the one that broke.

The other invaluable piece of preparation was the racing order. Les sent out a hypothetical series of riders and laps, and everyone gave superb feedback on it. He then modified it, and modified it again, largely with the help of Connie Weisner. We then had a great plan that allowed us to use the right resources at the right time, changing rhythms to keep the competition guessing, and giving everyone just enough rest after their rides so they would be recovered, but not so much that they would get cold.

Perhaps as important on Saturday, the team stuck to the plan. We've all seen efforts go down in flames when folks decide to shake things up that are working great, but the Cutters didn't. We just sat back, continued to execute, and stayed loose.

We were loose enough that our captain was about to jump up on the wall and boogie in the middle of the race.

Now that's what a bike race should be all about.

Special thanks to Al Wagner, who took all of the great photos in today's blog. He even got one of me looking fast. 

I don't even seem to notice that my front tire is almost flat.

1 comment:

  1. So clearly the advice is to join (or create) a well-oiled machine and to have seriously talented riders. You were the "Discovery" team of our race. I will not say who was Lance, but I do have my personal favorite.

    Excellent job, Cutters,