Apparently Mother Nature is some sort of comedian, because as you probably know by now, the inaugural US Cycling Open began in a zero-visibility blizzard! The snow followed me every step of the way. I departed Rochester very early on Friday morning in the midst of heavy snow flurries. I had a layover in Cleveland where I worried we would skid off the runway because of all the snow. (I have since learned that the Cleveland Indians have had a whole bunch of games postponed and moved to a neutral stadium because of the deep snow accumulating on the field. Welcome to spring!)
Are you serious?! As a life long New Englander, I just figure that everything south of about Pennsylvania is hot this time of year. Apparently that’s a farce. We knew that with NBC televising their first race in a decade, it would take much more than a simple blizzard to cancel the race. We arrived at the start an hour before it was set to go off. Upon arriving, we were told that the NBC helocopters weren’t yet in the air, so the race would be delayed. Oh yeah, that’s really wise. Even if the helocopters were in the air, there is no visibility anyway! Smart. Ultimately, the race did get underway 90 minutes after it was originally scheduled to.
The race was a doozy. Everyone and their mom thought it would be smart to be in the breakaway – maybe it would be warmer up there, or perhaps safer. There were so many attacks, that none actually ever succeeded to get more than about 30 seconds. Alas, as one would expect, the real race started 70 miles later when we hit the Richmond finishing circuits. The weather at this point has cleared up quite a bit, although it’s still frigid with temps in the 40s. The circuits were very cool, very difficult, and very laden with crappy roads. Flat tires were the name of the game, with Scott, Ben, and I (x2) suffering flats. Emile, Garrett, and Scott were our only finishers after the 112 miles of racing, so big props to them.
Garrett and I then packed up the Vibe to head to Lookout Mountain, GA while Omer, Ben-O, and Rich packed up the van and trailer for their drive to Sheedy’s house. We were literally seconds away from getting in the car to drive, when Rich noted that the Vibe had a rear flat tire. The Richmond roads strike again!
We then unpacked the Vibe, Rich took the donut tire out of the Vibe, and proceded to chase it around the parking lot.
So how many Priority Health riders does it take to change a flat?It takes 4 riders and 1 mechanic. The 4 riders mostly just stand around and make editorial comments while the mechanic makes the change. Actually, truth be told all 5 of us couldn’t get the wheel off the car; I had to call our friends at Triple-A for a wheel change. He wailed on the wheel for a while with his enormous rubber mallet before the rusty corrosiveness gave way and the wheel was removed.
Being Easter Sunday, not a single car-fix-it-joint was open. Alas, with our Triple-A man’s recommendation of not exceeding 50mph nor going more than 100 miles at a time, Garrett and I hit the road. Bear in mine, at this point we have over 600 miles of driving to complete in the next 9 hours. Do the math friends, at 50mph that would be 12 hours of driving. Thankfully, our $8 spare tire worked great and we made it to Tab and Mary Margaret’s house in Lookout Mountain, GA… with speeds exceeding 50mph. We have arguably the best view of Chattanooga, TN, amazing roads, great training partners (Eddy Hilger, our teammate from last year who lives 2 miles away), and perfect hospitality. I must say, waking up to the sweet smells of freshly brewed coffee and baked good – banana bread (twice) and amazingly delicious pear muffins – is pretty awesome.
So a belated Happy Easter everyone.