Today was mayhem in Penn State.
We had the first serious rain of the event during stage 4 of lay’Tour on Friday. Buckets opened up about an hour in and dumped on those poor schleps for most of the worst parts of the race.
It was insanity.
The stage started uphill after a few miles and never really relented. There were hard-nosed rollers for the guys to pound over, and long k’s of categorized climbs that ended up sending half the pack in one direction, half the pack in another. VMG/Felt/babyChipotle’s Stetina is a climbing beast and he showed it again today. He tried like all hell to stomp away from the field – but a select group of a dozen joined him and they fought it out for the ‘V’ and shook up the GC.
Behind them were the yellow-jersey’d JohanBruyneelies … chasing like dogs through the rain and muck and fucked up pave of central PA. We had 2 boys in that group … a pack of 30-odd that stayed ballistic all the way into the finishing town of Latrobe or Liebold or something lavicious like that. It’s smash-mouth racing for sho’ when you do 6K of climbing in less than 63 miles.
The PA Lightning guys are one of the few teams left with all riders in tact. But today, i was worried. In the first 10 miles we had 3 of our guys in the “pack” that found themselves 3 minutes down by the end of the initial KOM. The race today had no feedzone, so the battle became trying to feed riders up and down the race course, minutes and miles apart, with one car.
Most teams didn’t even try. They just stayed with the lead pack and gave the rest of their riders to the fates and whatever they could scavenge from other teams.
We were the “other team(s)”. PennState has a cool crew who stuck with a middle group of 10 riders … feeding them through the day and making sure they had wheels in case of emergency. We went back and forth from the pack at the back up to the front group 3 times trying to feed as many racers, from ANY team, as possible.
Reid Beloni is our mechanic for PA and i’ve got him behind the wheel as well, since SRAM neutral is supporting all wheel flats. With him driving, it frees me up to mic safely to the riders and feed out of the passenger window. Yesterday was 105 miles in heat, wind, and averaging almost 25mph. and we fed half the peloton.
Today we fed the rest. The riders thanked us, even if some of their support staff were clueless douchebags.
Late in the race, we were approaching 20k to go, and the limit of feeds from the car, and I NEEDED to get our 2 guys fed in the front after going back yet again to feed our riders, other riders … other teams.
The COMM didn’t like it, but i just told our driver to floor it and pass straight through to get to our guys. Fine us the swissfrancs, yell at us and think we don’t know what we’re doing, do what you want – but i’m getting my boys nutrients.
After the race i happened to be walking past a team that made a comment of derision about how we were screamed at by the COMM … to which i responded that i had to feed my boys, since i’d been feeding their fucking team they’d left behind.
We had the ZTeam podium girls Sara and Cindy in our car as “guests”. Originally, ZTeam owner HunterZ was going to ride with us because he gave his seat up in his own team car to none other than Senator John Kerry. Kerry did the morning flight into town, and would be on a plane to the Middle East later in the evening … but in the meantime, he got some quality sits with Frankie Andreu in the caravan, witness to some up-close barbarism of what it is to be in a high-stakes, higher-stress bike race where weather and road conditions conspire to knock out teeth and end careers.
Before the race, Hunter brought me over to meet Kerry … but he was giving an interview to Versus and so i watched him for a few minutes … studying the man who i’d seen for so many debates, so many campaign efforts. He was good and precise and gave all the right answers about the benefits of the race to the community, the good a bike can do for people’s health and wellfare and blahblahblah.
so, of course, i introduced myself to him and gave him a bit of, “John, drop the senator-speak, baby. We need more disco and less politico, man … keep it real.”
he didn’t understand and couldn’t figure out if i was bullshitting him, or what. but, it got his young’ish personal assistant laughing ass off, so i figure it’ll be explained to him later and he can decide whether he wants to get jiggy.
Anyway, some South African yayhoo ripped the overall off of some Belgie’s shoulders … doing it the hard way and i don’t mind too much. But, after yesterday’s exploit by Stetina and his further attempts today … i’m kind of hoping VMG will hit the afrikaaners in the face a few times and shake that GC up even more.
maybe we can exploit the chaos.
that seems to be my M.O.
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off to ‘work’.
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