Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm No Cavendish, and I'm Not Cadel Evans Either

This past Saturday I raced Old Yeller in the Nebraska Road Race Championship at Branched Oak state Park. The Cat 4s had to complete five 11.2 mi loops on this relatively flat course. The course's challenges include small rollers, a long graded climb (think Leavenworth St from Saddlecreek to 52nd) and a potentially difficult section into the south headwind across the dam. As there was little wind, the latter didn't play much into the race.

As my first race as a Cat 4, I decided to observe and mark the tires of some of the fasties. I was expecting savage attacks after the warm up lap and wanted to be ready. On the contrary, we actually slowed down on the next lap, becoming a fun group ride instead. People were cracking jokes while we soaked in great scenery under calm, sunny skies. Outside of a short up-tempo session to reel in a small breakaway, the only thing missing from the parade of laps three and four were the 'Shriners.

Inevitably, a race did happen. Half way through the final (bell) lap, the clowns shred their disguises and started throwing down. Attacks and surges ensued for the next 15 minutes. Going into the final sprint, Old Yeller had managed to climb up to sixth position overall. Then the sprint started for the pack of 25. I stood up and charged but found myself going backwards. Like those shriner mini-cars could have even passed me. But I clawed away to finish in the middle of the pack.

The race official scored me as eighth.

As there was no photo finish -- just officials hastily writing down bib numbers as the mass crossed the finish line -- there were bound to be mistakes. Certainly, they scored the top five correctly. But after that, who knows. And really, who cares? First, we're amateurs, and Cat 4s at that. Secondly, if the purse pays only five deep, does it really matter who was the first loser to not win their entrance fee back? Did it matter if you finished last in the pack? How about last overall?

Apparently, it mattered to some. So when I went to volunteer downgrading my finish to mid to back of the pack, another competitor was already relentlessly badgering the official about finishing seventh, not 12th. So like my Dad did when I threw a tantrum, the official mercifully pulled the racer aside to to spare him any further public embarrassment. Unfortunately, it wasn't effective. Turning away and after claiming not to care, he reiterated again that he didn't finish 12th.

I decided on the spot that I indeed finished four places ahead of him and instead offered my appreciation to the officials for staging the race.

What I learned:

  • Cat 4s are wiser than their Cat 5 brethren. While there are usually one or two Cat 5s that believe they're superhuman and foolishly attack a pack of 50 riders, Cat 4s will not make a stab at it alone. Expect a super group ride until the last 5 miles.
  • I'm no Mark Cavendish. In fact, I suck at sprinting
  • Non-podium finishes are worth protesting?
  • Officials have the patience of saints
Anyway, congratulations to Brandon Fenster for the win, to my teammate Mike Bartels for third and Pete Dureyea for a podium finish. To the rest of us losers, there's nine months to lick our wounds and train for next year.

Finally, thanks again to the officials and volunteers who put on this race. Without you, my eighth place wouldn't have been possible.


  1. atta baby. Cat 4 semi-prima-donnas are much better than the Cat5 losers!

    I was reminded of the 1970's show Battle of the Network Stars or Superstars where they had athletes or tv show personalities compete against each other in various feats of strength.

    One was the 440, filled up with a jaded group of celebuletes...They all basically walked shuffled together 3/4 of a lap then sprinted the last 100 yards or so.

    I never saw that competition in the TV show again.

  2. "Is that guy from U.P. who lost his bike as big a douchebag as he seems like in the paper?" - some dick at a party I was at.

    "No actually, he's quite slender." - Me in defense of my good friend, Brady.

    One time, RF and I sprinted for twentieth place in a cat 4 race. They marked me 17th and him 21st. I coerced him to complain about it.

  3. Some folks get it - some don't. You apparently do Mr. Goodness.


  4. Well, I believe that the comments about the person complaining about the 7th place thing was myself.

    Firstly, I want to publicly apologize for what I didn't believe to be a boorish behavior and I feel I need to explain it a little so it is in context.

    My concern was that someone I know finished 2 places ahead of me by the time I crossed the line. I know I didn't finish 7th, I know there were more ahead of me. But when the standings came out I was much further down than 2 places behind him. Should I have cared? Probably not. Am I in ROY contention? Not really. Does life go on? Yes it does. Did the officials do a good job? ABSOLUTELY!!! It's not an easy job.

    However, I wasn't pulled aside by anyone, so maybe someone else was causing a stink that I don't know about and just my own personal paranoia on such matters is getting the better of me.

    Once again, I am sorry if my behavior was anything but adult. That is not me. Good write up by the way. Very accurate description on the whole thing.

  5. No Loupgarou, it wasn't you. The guy who got pulled aside knows who he is, and so does everyone else who saw it.

    As a matter of fact, the guys Brady is referring too actually had Sean's girlfriend, the computer operator at the race, quite shook up and disgusted.

    Certainly not you, LoupGarou

  6. My personal paranoia strikes again. phew.

    Thanks again Jon to you, Nancy, Brian, Mike, and I can't remember who else, sorry. Excellent job as usual.

  7. That's exactly the spirit, Murphini.

    Geez Fred, I'm kind of embarrased about that one, being called out like that. But thanks for standing up for me. Most don't realize that the camera adds 15 lbs of extra mild medicated vinegar and water weight.

    Hi Jon and Loup Garou, thanks for the comments and sorting it out.

    While I got the facts mostly correct, my write up was ambiguous. Sorry for the confusion.

    Fred's got it right. At least I'm slender.

  8. As you know I always thank the promoter and officials at every race I do, I may not agree with everything they do or how the series is set up, but getting in their faces at a race will not solve anything. These guys make very little for the time that they invest so we can have our little mid-life crisis, and while I may make little comments about them being the Dungeons and Dragons crew I don't really mean it. There I said it. So, Brady when are you gonna write about your Corp Cup result?????

  9. Brady,

    You're so modest. I know you were just saving your gas for the Corporate Cup. Way to smoke that!

    The race was fun. Isn't that what it is all about? I just posted a writeup similar to yours on our Viva Velo Veloce blogspot. Funny we both were thinking along the same lines....not being Cavendish.

    I had a great time just hanging out with you and other guys that I've become pals with due to our racing interests. Funny thing was that I knew about 75% fo the Cat 4 riders.

    My strategy was to follow Old Yeller as long as I could. I figured she would be up there when the final selection would be made. Nice job working with me to bring back that break away.

    See ya and the other studs this Wednesday for the TREK ride.

    PS> Thanks Jon, Brian, Nancy, et. al for yet another FUN day.

    E. Guapo

  10. I could care less if I finished mid-pack or last. I raced for fun, and had fun. My only beef with the results was that they were telling us the results were correct when they clearly weren't. If you're going to tell me you did the best you could I can accept that. But if you state "The top 10 is rock solid" when it's incorrect, I'm going to say something during the allotted 15 minute 'Protest' period. After I realized they weren't going to change anything I mentioned to another guy pleading his case that he wasn't going to win anything for 6th-7th place and walked away.

    I'm sorry if I upset anyone when I protested the results. I'm grateful we have people who want to spend their time officiating so the rest of us can race.

  11. I totally beat Fred that time.

  12. I recall that I once protested 16 seconds of time in a Cat 5 TT. What's totally pathetic about the protest was that I won the TT by many minutes.

    That's so nuts it's funny.

    Thanks to Munson for graciously handling my lack of tact that day.

    I have suddenly found compassion for Cadel Evans.