Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fall Five - Part Two

The fabrication of this awesome trophy!

To my twitter followers - Wondering what all those tweets with the #fallfive tag were all about?

We managed to complete (and blog about) the first three stages of the Fall Five before Superstorm Sandy breezed through the area with a glancing blow. While NJ, NY and CT took the brunt of the damage, we just got the winds swirling above the eye. As a result of all the severe forecasts for the area, and previous occasions where warnings had been ignored with dire consequences, everything was essentially closed down on Monday, while we waited for Sandy to arrive. Around mid-afternoon, we had some impressive rain and wind, and then we heard the loud crackle of a nearby transformer blowing as our power went out. John was working from home, but no power spelled the end of that. We decided to try and get out for a walk to get a little exercise for the day, and very quickly spotted what had taken out our power as a tree had fallen across the street, taking down power and phone lines, and was resting on a neighbors house. We saw lots of leaves down everywhere, but relatively little significant damage, other than this one downed tree.  It turns out this pattern repeated itself lots in the area. There were lots of little pockets of power outages caused by similar circumstances, but nothing major.

We woke Tuesday to sunny skies, but still with a forecast of bands of rain from Sandy. With no power at home, John headed into the office. I normally lead a ride from Ride Studio Cafe (RSC) on Tuesdays, but this week had changed it to a hike, since I really had no idea what I would find on the roads or whether we'd get more rain, and whether anyone would even show up! I headed over to RSC with laptop, phone and tablet, to try and charge a few devices so I could stay connected. I ran into a few friends there also charging devices and getting some proper coffee.

RSC had changed the time spans for doing each stage, allowing folks until Friday to complete all the stages, so no one would feel pressured to ride in dangerous conditions. Stage 4 officially started on Tuesday, but I decided waiting until things dried out a bit might be a good idea. This stage was a circuit-race, with 4 laps of a 3 mile course around a neighborhood in Lexington. It happened that the hike I did also was within this neighborhood, so I got to see a bit of the course. I noticed lots of wet leaves piled up in the corners, but as I wandered about, it really seemed the area had been spared any major damage. There were roads closures just off the course, but the roads on the course itself were open. Still I decided to wait a day and enjoy my walk in the woods.

That night we had a pretty severe electrical storm with a nearby lightening strike. If we'd had power, we surely would have lost it then! Just before the storm hit, I saw a tweet from Rob Vandermark, chief bottle washer at RSC, that he was heading out to do stage 2! I hoped he wasn't insane enough to really go out in this weather, but he was. Rob is a great fan of Ernest Shackleton, so it was only fitting that he do his race in the worst conditions. Read about his adventure here. All of Rob's reports are on his blog and make for a quite enjoyable read.

Not needing to fit my racing in around 18 hour work days like Rob, I headed off to my dry warm bed!

The next morning, I headed out to a nearby coffee shop to recharge phone, laptop and tablet. Once recharged and caffeinated I then came home and pulled out my Seven, with my still worn out drivetrain. Sandy had eliminated any chance that my new drivetrain would arrive in time. But I decided fenders would be appreciated far more than crisp shifting, and besides the bigger chainring might come in handy on the circuit race route. And since I knew exactly which gears were unusable, I could avoid them. I gave a quick look at the fixed-gear machines, but also decided coasting around the corners might help me log a better time.

Despite the evidence in our driveway, as I rode over to Lexington, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sandy had not blown away every leaf from every tree!

In fact there was some amazing color on display nearby.

I also suddenly became aware that it was Halloween! Lexington subjects the local merchants to lots of begging goblins and gremlins and such, as they let the kids go trick or treating at the shops in town. Luckily, I got into and out of RSC initially before the hordes descended, although I did spot this adorable lobster - a regular RSC customer!

I rode around the circuit course once as a warmup and preview, and then started to race. I quickly realized that I may not have picked the best time of day, as the course passed two schools, and school traffic - distracted moms on cell phones -  was starting to come and go. The roads were at least dry, but there were several places still quite thick with leaves. Then I saw the crossing guard. I was thrilled to get past her once, twice, three times, without having to stop. I was working hard and having a good race, but knew it would be just my luck to get stopped 90% of the way through the race. The race timing would only count moving time, but this crosswalk was at the base of the final climb, and having to stop and restart would destroy any momentum and cost a lot of time. I couldn't believe my luck when I actually made it through on the final lap.

Yippee I was done. I was also seriously trashed. I regularly go out and do double centuries. I ride 50-80 miles a day quite frequently, but this little 13 mile race at 19 mph was a whole different thing, and now I was well and truly done. I headed back to RSC, which was now overrun with two and a half foot tall gremlins and gobblins getting coupons for free hot chocolate. I managed to get a cortado in all the chaos and chatted with a few other racers who were trying not to leave chainring tattoos on the costumes of the little beggars!

I managed to get a glimpse of the party supplies for the awards ceremony on Friday night. Time bonuses were being awarded for photos, up to 5 per stage. For any who follow me on twitter and were wondering what the heck was going on, it's called twitter-doping! This also helped me get some blog fodder!

The fenders did come in handy. The generator was overkill though!

John got out on Thursday for a very impressive Stage 4, but had an appointment with his foam roller that evening! 

I took a rest day and did a 90 mile ride out to Lost Lake! When I got back I did a preview of Stage 5, but do to user error managed not to have my GPS running for half the ride. It was just a preview, so not so bad.

Friday was again lovely, which was fortunate since we only had until 5:30 PM to do the final stage. John was leading the GC, and I was actually in second place among the gals who had completed the same number of stages.

John passed me as I headed back over to Lexington. It really wasn't a grey day!

I stopped for a quick lunch, while John and it seemed half the guys racing, were out on the course.

After a coffee and scone and some time to digest it, I headed out for the 7.7 mile criterium course. Pain and deep breathing were the order of the day!

When I got back to RSC, I uploaded my track to be sure I'd completed the course correctly. It was tricky and involved multiple laps in a couple of places and I was suddenly worried that I might have missed a lap. Fortunately all was well, and I was now done and relieved.

Then Patria came in after having completed Stages 3 and 4. She was having trouble uploading and I foolishly helped her retrieve and upload her hillclimb results. 

She had just blown away my times, pushing me down to third on GC for women. I then spotted Katherine kitted up and ready to head out to do the final two stages. She's a very powerful racer, and I knew I was soon to be down to fourth and off the podium. Oh well. it's just for fun. I am not a racer, and 4th is really a respectable showing!

It turned into quite the social afternoon with lots of racers coming and going, getting in that final stage. Eventually, we all headed home to clean up and get ready for the party later in the evening.

RSC hosts the best parties. There is always great food and drink and wonderful people and this was no exception. 

Henry was recognized for his great improvement from last year!

Felipe and Michelle were both recognized for their team spirit.

Leading in team spirit!
Sarah took home all the women's categories, sprint, climbing and overall, with Patria taking second and Katherine taking third.

And despite the fact that his mother really did teach him to share, John took all the men's categories, and brought home loads of great swag!

This was actually an amazing week of riding/racing. I really had a blast and the kind folks at RSC made it fun and rewarding. I'm looking forward to next year or maybe the Spring Six!

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