I woke up on Sunday morning, sore everywhere. Back, neck, legs, arms, shoulders, throat, eyelids; they all hurt. And no wonder. I’d make the mistake of entering, and the achieved miracle of finishing, two 30-mile races on the windy, hilly, beatdown Rosena Ranch course in San Bernardino.
The first race was a bad idea that quickly turned terrible. The 45/50 category racing in Southern California is pitiless. Sure, everyone is old and slow and weak and staggering with one foot in the grave. But before they put the other foot in, they race their bikes hard, and too bad if you’re older, slower, and weaker than they are.
The race began with attacks, after which the old folks would sit up for a minute, gather their wits, and attack again. The size of the field and its depth meant that nothing was getting away early, and nothing did. Chris DeMarchi, Norwegian Dude, Greg Leibert, Michael Marckx, and others kept the attacks coming until midway through the race a seven-man break rolled and the pack couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.
Once they got clear I jumped and tried to bridge, and would never have made it across if they hadn’t hit the slight uphill, windy section just as I was barreling down the tailwind, slightly downhill part. I caught on barely and took stock. This was for sure the winning break with DeMarchi, Norwegian Dude, Marckx, Leibert, and my other teammate, Greg Cesarian.
Fortunately, as the break was falling into a steady rotation, I looked back and saw our teammate, Chase, dragging the peloton after us at full speed. There is nothing quite so awesome as having a teammate riding his little heart out so that he can catch up to his buddies in the breakaway, and it’s even more heartwarming to see him bring so much company.
DeMarchi turned and looked at me. “Team Big Orange is too big.”
Chase chased us down and happily sat up, pleased to be with his friends again. We sure were glad to see him, too. We hit the turnaround and Leibert attacked, opening a big gap. The field responded, caught him, and I countered, springing free, possibly for good, or at least until another couple of riders could bridge up.
Luckily, I glanced back and saw Chase on the gas, leading the chase up to his Team Lizard Collector buddy. He killed it! After a short while Chase had brought everyone up, and the peloton’s approval was awesome and loud. “Good job, Lizard Collectors!” they cheered us.
By then the race was in its waning phase, and the attacks relented as everyone read the big neon flashing sign evident to anyone who cared to look that said, “Bunch sprunt.”
And it was. The Norwegian dude, not content with all of his country’s gold medals at the winter Olympics, snagged a local wankfest circuit race to add to the medal tally. After the race we sat around beneath the team tent, excitedly reviewing our great race tactics.
“That was awesome how Chase chased!” we enthused.
“What’s even more awesome is the way he does it pretty much every race!”
“I love racing with Chase!”
“It would sure be terrible if he left Team Lizard Collectors and went to another team!”
“Things just wouldn’t be the same without ol’ Chase.”
“Thankfully,” I added, “even if he gets a better offer from another club that has full race reimbursement, two free pro kits to all Cat 2 and above riders, full race support, and a great vibe, we’ll probably be able to groom another teammate to take his place.”
“Yeah,” they agreed. “But I sure hope he never leaves.”
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