There’s always a sorting out, or actually two sortings out, on the Friday morning Alpine Loop ride. The first typically occurs at the turnoff for Tibble where the road gets a little steeper. Generally at this point it’s every man for himself, but sometimes the group stays together until the famous mile marker 18 when someone inevitably makes a move.
Brad claims that he tries to break free of Rick because he can’t beat Rick in a sprint to the top. We all know that’s a load of crap, though, and Brad is just that fast up the hill. I looked at his corn cob cassette when we got to the top this morning and asked him what his biggest cog was. He didn’t even know. I guess if you never use it, there’s no point in knowing. In fairness, I should point out that Rick doesn’t use any of his three biggest cogs, but he does run a compact crank.
Rick is a freak in his own right. I’m convinced he has bird bones, because he’s eight inches taller than me and weighs about the same. Not that I’m skinny or anything. But he’s not a gaunt, emaciated chicken like Michael Rasmussen or Juan Mauricio Soler, either.
Since Adam, Aaron, and Brandon were absent from this morning’s ride and Steve had tired legs from riding yesterday while I rested, I was able to claw my way to a podium finish. I kept Rick in sight for as long as I could, but once I lost visual contact, the rubberband snapped, and I never saw him again. Elden, helmet cam and all, was right on my wheel all the way to the top.
The contest that really matters, though, is the bunch sprint at the bottom. I’ve mentioned before that I’m kind of a pansy descender, which has heretofore kept me from being there to contest the bunch sprints. I’ve recently, however, adopted a new descending philosophy: if the person ahead of me can stay upright at a given speed through a corner, so can I. So I just pick someone to follow down the hill and try to hold his wheel. This may not be the safest or most rational approach, but it’s worked so far.
Today that person happened to be Dug, whose descending prowess and record in the sprint to the guard shack are both the stuff of legend. I kept him in sight most of the way down, but in the final couple of swithbacks where the road was a bit wet I lost some nerve and let him go.
Steve was right with me, though, and I knew with two against one on the lower section where you actually have to pedal, we could catch him. Dug knew this, too, and sat up to let us catch. Elden was right behind, and we decided that four was enough for a bunch sprint and didn’t wait for the rest.
At the top, Steve and I had agreed that keeping Dug from winning was as good as a victory. I wish I could say that all of the crits we’ve done this year proved valuable. My inexperience in the AF sprint resulted in being stuck on the front when the sprint began. Elden started coming around. I stood up to go, but at 40 mph, there wasn’t much more accelerating I could do. I thought Elden was going to take it when Dug pipped him at the end.
Next week, Dug. Next week.