Thursday, July 3, 2008

2008 Masters Nationals, Day 6

45+ Road Race: Good News, Bad News

Today it was Joe's turn to play on the Cherokee Park road race course, and it was a good news/bad news kind of day.

Good news- the predicted rain didn't materialize before the start; bad news- it started to rain at the start. Good news- Joe managed to stay upright through some of the slickest corners he's ever ridden on a road bike; bad news- many other riders didn't, including a guy laid it down in the middle of the road on the tight downhill turn after the start/finish line, blocking the official's vehicle which had come up into the middle of the field for reasons unknown. The driver came to a complete stop, blocking (Joe's) half of the field.

Good news- Joe soloed the last half of the 48 mile race; bad news- he wasn't off the front. After repeated attacks by Thurlow Rogers and his Amgen teammates over the opening few laps, the pack was starting to stretch and splinter, and then Thurlow got serious. He charged up the hills like he was on Paul's Ducati, single-handedly decimating the field into groups of 5 or less. When Joe detonated (you could probably hear the "BOOM" in Colorado, the only riders in his vicinity either pulled the plug or crashed in a corner, leaving Joe on a solo quest to avoid the dreaded "DNF".

Lap after lap, Thurlow and Joe each rode in solitude, one cheered on by the adoring crowd, the other by the hardy Bill and Mike support team. Realizing that he had the wrong tool for the job at hand, Joe considered asking them to run to the rental van for his TT bike, but figured the officials would frown on that move.

When the mist settled, Thurlow won by something like 3 minutes, Joe limped home in 21st place, and 31 of the starters never saw the finish line. Good news- it was a day of racing to remember; bad news- it was a race Joe won't be able to forget.

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