Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Domnarski Farm 2013 Race Report

Cat 1 Singlespeed, DNF.

Bit late posting this obviously, but since I reference these blog posts when planning for races, this one may come in handy for 2014.

Having said that, if the future Finn is reading this...RUN 32X20 at Domnarski, you moron.

So for a person who believes that things happen for a reason, I sure messed up this time. On the day before the race, Adin Maynard comments in my blog asking about gearing and I inexplicably don't see it as a sign that running 32X18 is too big a gear for me. I figured out it was in the warmup. I didn't bring extra cogs to the race, so I'm stuck with what I was running.  Most everyone else in the Cat 1 field was running 32X20.  Adin, too, ran 32X20 and won the Cat 2 SS field (in front of a strong 3rd place for my teammate Gabe).

As for me, the Cat 1 race starts out in a 32x20 conga line up hill and me with my big gear, I'm struggling.  Too hard a gear, and being in a different gear in the conga line means I'm not going fast enough to be in a groove, grinding too hard, rubbing tires.  Up we go, I make a couple passes, the first 5 of us stay pretty close.

The thing about running too big a gear is that the lighter geared guys can go away from you on the steeper climbs, but you figure you'll get them on the gradual climbs and flats.  But you're spent from the steep climb, then you push to catch up on the flat.  You make up ground, but then by the time you get to the next climb you're spent from chasing and away they go. On a hill I attacked on last year (in 32x20) I ended up walking some this year.   I wasn't having as much fun as I should have.

So midway through the 1st lap Arnold Roest (eventual winner) goes by. That put me in 4th and I decided that if I could see Arnold by the end of the lap, I'd suffer through a 2nd lap.  I saw Arnold all the way up the power lines, about 20 seconds in front of me (I counted). Could also see the two leaders up further. Then I lost Arnold on the downs leading to the start/finish, but figured it was tight and twisty enough that he was probably right there.  But near the end of the lap I was pretty bushed.

I came upon a slightly dazed geared rider on the side of a rocky downhill trail and stopped to see how he was doing.  He was hurting.  Things happening for a reason and all, I decided to pull the plug on my day and ride out with him.

Domnarski Farm is a fun race (with the right gearing) and a good time.  There were a bunch of exciting finishes too - guys sprinting right to the line.  And it was great to see all the Root 66 crowd I hadn't seen yet this year -- bunch of really good guys.

So, now looking forward to the Pinnacle.  Curious to see if my climbing legs are adequate.  I'll be in 32x20.
I'll be breaking my 2-hour commute rule (again), but I've never raced there and it's supposed to be a fun race and it'll be my last one for a few weeks before I pick things back up in late July (so I say now...).  I have a shoulder injury I've been nursing since March that just isn't healing, so I'm hoping a bit of down time might help.  Of course, an X-ray might help too.  Maybe in October.

Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Crossroads

In Medway, we call it skid-hopping.

We waited inconspicuously at the stop sign.  The pick-up truck pulled up and then took the right onto Holliston St.  The truck’s tires spun out momentarily in the deepening snow, a pause that allowed just enough time for the four of us to run out and snatch on to the back bumper.  Our weight probably helped the tries grip.  Off we went. 

We skid-hopped along the slick road for close to a mile before reaching the busiest intersection in town, the crossroads of Holliston St and Main St.  Three of us peeled off, tumbling in howls of laughter as the powder broke our falls.  But Ollie held on, and careened through the intersection still affixed to the truck’s bumper.  

We watched in shocked admiration. Then we saw the cop car, idling at the red light, its driver no doubt even more shocked than us.

It pulled out behind the truck and on came the blues and Ollie spun off into the plow piles at the side of the road.  We ran across the intersection and stood in front of the The Little Store and watched as the cop got out and we saw Ollie motioning towards his house that was just a few dozen yards down the road and off they went.

It was the stuff of high school legend, Ollie careening through the intersection. Fearless and unstoppable. 

It wasn’t the first crossroad he had careened through. 

Ollie came to Medway from Brockton.  Short and stocky, rumored to be a tough kid, saddled with a stutter that he learned to make light of as the years passed. 

High school fights, primal as they are, can make and break a kid much more than they should.  Ollie had to prove his toughness on day one.  He did. Tough. And smart, very smart. Athletic, funny, caring.  He’d overcome his new-kid status to be president of the class in two years’ time. Careening.

We’d stay in touch through college and for years after, but I’d eventually lose regular contact with Ollie.  Sure, there was the parking lot at Great Woods before a concert – I don’t even remember who was playing, but I remember the tailgating before and the faint “Finnaayyyyy!!!” in the distance, over and over, and standing on my car and seeing Ollie wandering through the parking lot calling my name out because he figured I’d probably be there.  And the random phone call when he was up from Virgina to play in a golf tournament and his asking if I’d come out and meet him in Hyannis and my laughing “are you kidding me, of course I will!”  And Christ, it was just like old times, the drinking and laughing, the deep appreciation for a friendship we hadn’t honored enough through the years.

Suicide leaves a blast zone that permanently scars family and friends.  This month marks five years after my buddy Scott’s suicide blew apart our tight group of mt biking friends.  I knew Scott was feeling at a crossroads in his life and I had bought him the book Pathfinder by Nicholas Lore, a career-search book that is more like a guide on how to position yourself to live what Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist calls your “personal legend.”  Scott never read the book.  I don’t know if it would have helped him as it did me and so many others – helped him to see the crossroad for what it could be – the opportunity to forgive himself for all the past bad decisions, and the clean slate needed to get on with living the life he was meant to.

While I knew that Scott was struggling (though not to what degree), I don’t know what Ollie was going through; I wish he’d have reached out to tell me.  I only know that he was a good friend and that I feel so, so badly for him -- for the pain that he must have been going through, so great that it would have made him reach a crossroad and decide to stop, forever.