During last Friday's lunch ride, colleague Jonathan Wait (Flatwater) sidled up next to me and asked what the Harvest Race Team's plans were for the following weekend's Tour De Husker.
I told him that we were going to run the Statue of Liberty play, followed by a fumblerooski, and if necessary, toss a Hail Mary as the game clock expired.
Jonathan was quiet for a moment. Then, he told me he was going to attack early and hope not to get popped like he did last year.
We had race plans, but I wasn't going to reveal them to Jonathan the day before the race. But now that it's all over, I can tell you all about it.
The team got together for a race meeting at Mark Savery's house. Before everyone arrived, Mark, Jordan Ross, Paul Webb and I were playing Super Mario Brothers on the Wii. Mark (Mario), Jordan (Luigi), Paul (yellow Toad) and I (green Toad) had made it to Bowser's Castle. While we were playing, somebody mentioned that Bowser was like Chris Spence (Kaos). We all agreed on that point: Spence is Bowser.
While we were discussing the Bowser-Spence thing, I ran my little green Toad to the right side of Bowser's lair while the others stayed put on the left. Bowser turned and started spitting fireballs my way. With Bowser's back facing the others, Mario, Luigi and yellow Toad attacked mercilessly. I continued running interference until the attacks took Bowser down.
We decided right then and there that that's how we'd do it at the road race.
The best of plans -- and that's a doozy -- never play out the way they're drawn up. Here's how the race went down:
Edit: before I go any further, may I suggest playing Super Mario Brothers' Over World Theme in another window while you read it?
The first two laps were a parade. During that time, Greg Hagele (Kaos) rolled away from the pack and soloed up the road. Midway through the third lap, things got spicy. I nearly missed my chance at the break, but caught Jonathan Wait's wheel just in time to chase down Spence as he was getting away. We sat up a few miles up the road to let Jonathan Nelson (SC Velo) bridge up to us. With Greg Hagele (Kaos) now several minutes up the road, Spence said that he wasn't going to pull his teammate back. That meant that the two Jonathans and I spent the next lap reeling Hagele back in. Once we pulled Hagele back, Spence lured us deep into his lair, the pain cave.
Hagele was the first to get popped, followed by Nelson. The attacks were as fierce as the were plenty; at least a dozen teeth grinding efforts.
I remember once yelling, "Spence! Would you stop that? It's really annoying!"
Spence looked at me, flashed a smile and said, "No". Then he punched it again.
When Spence wasn't crushing it on the flats, Wait was drilling it up the long climbs.
That continued for the next hour and 45 minutes. During that period, there were several times that I had wished my mother had never met my father.
The final two miles were a game of cat and mouse as we rolled up to the 200M mark at about 8 mph. Wait got the early jump, Spence and I were just off his lead. It finished in that order. After some 60 miles, only 0.7 seconds separated first from third.
Although the plan did not go as it was drawn up, I learned a lot about my competitors in this race. Even more, I learned a lot about myself.
One more thing. That bit about getting our game plan from Super Mario was all made up. I don't even know if Mark has a Wii.
Regardless, Spence is still Bowser.
Bah -da-do-da, bah-bah ba da ♫
Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.