The first Telo of the year went off without a hitch on Tuesday. There were seven riders; Raul Vasquez-Diaz, Kristie Fox, Marco Cubillos, Jon Petrucci, Ivan Fernandez, Chad Lucius, and I. Joe Cooney had shown up to take photos, which was really nice of him.
Many riders stayed away because of the rain. Cyclists don’t like to ride in rain as a rule, and they really don’t like to race in the rain. In lots of place, there’s not much choice, but in SoCal if it is rainy you can wait a couple of days and it will be sunny. There is little motivation to race in the rain, especially when it is a #fakerace anyway.
Of course the weather forecast here is rarely correct, and people know that. They can also look out the window and see whether or not it’s raining. On Tuesday afternoon the skies were sunny and clear, and when Telo began the streets were bone dry, but still …
Jon started with a brisk tempo that rode everyone off his wheel except me and Ivan, so it was going to be a three-man rotation for 50 minutes until they began attacking me for the win. It didn’t turn out that way. After about ten minutes, Ivan attacked. He and Jon are teammates and my presence was unwelcome.
I chased and Jon countered. I chased and Ivan countered. I chased and Jon countered. Our three-man rotation had become a series of sprints, with me sitting Jon’s wheel and responding. The net effect was that they both got really tired. Finally Jon turned to me. “This is a weird dynamic,” he said.
I wasn’t sure if he meant that it was weird for two guys in their 20s to be mauling a 56-y-o grandpa, or if he meant that it was weird that they couldn’t drop me. Or both.
“I’m not pulling as long as you guys keep attacking me.” Sometimes I have to state the obvious, especially with younger riders.
“Let’s just ride a rotation and race it out at the end,” Jon said, which meant “We’ll tag team you again when you’re a bit more winded.”
“Okay,” I said. In a 2-on-1 scenario on a flat course with two fast riders, both of whom can sprint plenty fast, my options were none and none.
With one lap to go Jon attacked and rode away. Ivan outsprinted me at the end, but I was still pleased. There are not a whole lot of races left in my life where I’ll be riding in a break for 50 minutes with a couple of fast guys under the age of 30 who are trying might and main to get rid of me.
In many ways it was my favorite kind of Telo, long and grueling, tiny group, windy, nowhere to hide, and bitter fireworks followed by a truce followed by a hard rotation concluding with a fight to the death. I think the riders who stayed home because they didn’t want to get wet in the sunshine made a mistake, and it’s similar to the way people have reacted to the coronavirus.
I am not sure if I’ve had it, but when I got back from Turkey I was sick for two weeks. I rarely get sick and when I do, hardly anyone hears about it because I recover quickly. Not with this. I had all of the symptoms, especially the cough. Whatever I had was virulent and not taking “no” for an answer.
As bad as it was, it went away, and I can see how that if you are elderly AND weak, it could kill you, the same way that many types of illnesses can exploit existing problems to create a death cascade from something that a healthier person would shrug off. On the other hand, mass hysteria doesn’t seem to be the right answer, either, kind of like the nearly uniform reaction to the possibility of rain at Telo.
Racing in the rain isn’t for everyone, but everyone who does it gets better. Lower your tire pressure, go a little slower, take the turns less aggressively, give yourself a little more exit room, and things are going to turn out fine. Probably. If not, at least you’re going to slide rather than skid on dry asphalt.
The other great thing about racing in the #fakerain is that the group is small, which is safer, especially when it’s going fast.
Glad I went. Getting third out of three finishers is still a podium.
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