Sunday, March 30, 2008

Retreat Stage III

Hello, and welcome to today's coverage of Stage III of the Velocity Stage Race,er, Retreat. Yesterday saw a resurgence of Daniel "Thursday Night Crit" Norton, but the day went The Prez, Robert Dole. While earlier in the day, Daniel and Tom succumbed to the temptation of downhill and downwind, including sucerssfully chasing down The Prez who had gone off on a 40 mph flyer, a second attack by the Prez put them properly in their place. At the end of the day, Tom, Michael, and Frank proved themselves to be the only sane ones in the bunch while Robert and Daniel fought it out over a stupid mailbox.

The neutral start of Stage III was delayed an hour by inclement weather, so the rollout left the parking lot at 9:00am. All riders received a 1 hour 30 minute penalty while receiving assistance from the team cars, and their lack of effort resulted in their arriving at the race start somewhat stiff and lethargic. Regardless, the plan for a civilized warmup was quickly tossed into the waste bin and the riders were heading uphill immediately.
The two old geezers really stunk it up, as Frank and Robert rode effortlessly away up the 11% grade heading west out of Vanderpool on the first leg of today's stage. Tom was able to close the gap some on the occasional downhill, but Frank and Robert were definitely the strong climbers on this day.

A mishap with the follow car brought all the riders together for a quick "en mass" push, and Tom took advantage of the confusion that followed to jump on his bike and head uphill. He was quickly caught by Frank, who took the lead to the top. After a few rollers, the descent began in earnest (just west of Mt Idy) no, wait, that's a different joke, and Tom took the lead. About halfway down, the road turned to packed caliche, but Tom found a pace that allowed his Titanium Terror to float over the bulldozer tracks, and was first to reach Leaky. It was his last first of the day until the pie eating contest in Utopia. Just hold your horses; I'll get to that.

Frank was second off the mountain, followed by Robert and Michael. Robert summed the experience up with a few well chosen words, something to the effect of, "that sucked." He was ready to get the buzz out of his hands and the tension out of his neck, and took off onthe second leg of today's stage, heading south into a moderate breeze and slight mist. Frank, Tom and Michael followed in a comfortable paceline, with Daniel doing double duty as navigator and team photographer. The road paralled the river and as such, was mostly downhill, fairly dry and best of all, paved, and soon the peloton arrived at leg three, the turn towards Utopia.

Robert was waiting at the turn, and he and Frank headed east, quickly outdistancing Tom and Michael. The road was now running acrosos the grain of the creeks, so there were numerous rollers, but with pretty scenery and pleasant company, this leg passed very pleasantly for Tom and Michael, while the young hammerhead @!!%??'s er, Frank and Robert, pulled away. The mist turned to rain from time to time, but it wasn't too cold, and mostly served to keep the riders cool.

Frank and Robert made the turn at Utopia and put the hammer down, effectively denying the now fast-closing peleton any chance at the top two podium spots. Their run to the finish was one that will be spoken of in hushed tones for years/weeks/days/hours/for a little while anyway, and was the perfect way to display their strong legs, sweaty muscled torsos, dripping young (does it seem hot in here to you?) anyway , a wonderful last fast dash, even if the road at that speed was, according to Frank's carefully though out appraisal, "crappy"

In Utopia the peleton (Tom and Michel) took advantage of the opportunity to address their need for a "natural break" and a water bottle re-fill, and Michael immediately spotted the best place in town to accomplish both: the local cafe aka the local color cafe, which happened to be the site of the first annual Velocity Inc Pie Eating Contest. Upon entering the cafe, the riders quickly engaged the locals in witty repartee. Local: "Isn't it pretty wet to be riding bicycles?" Riders (in unison) "Yes".

The contest began with Michael making an ill-advised selection of pecan pie, which though very tasty, put him immedately at a disadvantage, contest- wise. Tom wisely chose chocolate meringue, which he was able to suck down in the incredible time of .0005 seconds, and won the contest handily. His prize was the opportunity to observe more members of the local color contingent, consisting mainly of 3 loud and yet very well fed young ladies, one of whom sported what was perhaps a second-tier though still noteworthy plumber's butt, while Michael sullenly trudged his defeated way through pecan pie and hot coffee. When asked for a comment regarding his victory, Tom replied, "next year I'll be the one to get the pecan pie and the seat facing the window"

The contest over, the victory won and lost, Michael and Tom headed north on leg 4 of today's stage. A tailwind and their concern over delaying the post-stage activities of the first and second-place finishers put wings under their wheels, and they finished the last leg at an average speed of 32 mph. Whaddaya mean bull****??? Were you there? Were you clocking them? Then SHUT UP!

The option of driving out to pick up the now-flying non-winners had been offered to the early finishers, but they chose instead to sit on the porch at the store and stuff barbecue sandwiches with extra sauce down their gluttonous maws while savoring their impressive victory. So after Tom and Michael approached the finish line and were finally able to bring their speed down to something more manageable, they turned into the parking lot, dismounted, and were rewarded with their own barbecue sandwiches. After a short rest on the porch, the team loaded the team cars and drove back to the start of today's stage. All that was left was to pack up and head home. .

So that's it. Another stage wrapped up, and the end of this year's Velocity Inc. Stage Retreat. I would like to thank Mike at U-BarU for his hospitality, his cooking at all hours of the day and night, his post-ride soup and lasagna, and his enthusiasm. I would like to thank Michael West for getting the whole endeavor off the ground. Thanks to Daniel Norton for driving, photographing, and in concert with Robert Dole, his computer wizardry. Thanks to Robert for his experiments involving pancakes and maple syrup and is his insightful reports to the group regarding the results, and thanks to Tom for his judicious and timely employment of the toilet plunger (no connection between the last two items is intended, and if you believe that you're really not paying attention any more, are you.) And thanks to Frank for laughing at Tom's stupid jokes and making some of his own and being a really strong rider and retreat steadifier, and for helping those Chinese women get their money out of the country by sending each of them $5,000.00 and his bank account number.

We'll see you all next year.

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