Kings Valley: Big Efforts and Great Results!
Before we get into the specific races I first want to say thank you to our team. We had Brit and Sarah taking amazing photos, Heather keeping everyone fed and organized, Grant Cavett, Kristin, family and many more out there supporting the team and cheering everyone. This day could not have come together better in many regards, and that was a direct result of everyone’s energy and excitement!!!
Women’s Cat 4: 2nd Place!
If there is one thing you don’t want to do, it is get on the wrong end of Helen’s competitive focus. NASA has been asking to study Helen’s laser focus for opportunities to improve the Hubble Telescope, but they can’t find the funding for a complete redesign because there is really no comparison. The women’s 4 field was content to ‘Sunday pace’ the ride, but that’s just not how Helen rides her bike. She spent much of the race and all of the hills at the front pushing the pace.
As the group approached the finish hill Helen took matters into her own hands and went straight to the front carrying the entire field on her back.
If you haven’t competed against Helen there is something you should know about her that can be best summed up by Kyle Reese in The Terminator: “She can’t be bargained with; she can’t be reasoned with. She doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And she absolutely will not stop, EVER, until she has passed you!”
Helen attacked the ENTIRE finish hill with only one woman able to hold her wheel. Right at the finish line the woman took advantage of Helen’s hard charging to come around her at the finish. Ummmm… You REALLY didn’t want to do that. Helen of Troy, with Spartan blood pulsing through her veins, now has your number…
I told Helen after the race that nipping her at the line was probably the worst thing that the woman could do, because she just created a monster of competition. Helen gave me a smile and turned her wrist over to reveal a list of competitive bib numbers!
Great job Helen! And I hope all you other Cat4 women have quit your jobs and are training 20 hours a week. You’ll need it!!!
Men’s Cat 3: 1st Place
The Men’s Cat 3 field went off second on the day and was represented by journeymen Chris Heron, Adam Hadley and myself. In the first lap several riders attempted to push the pace in the cross winds with an echelon and with breaks, but with so many fresh legs everything was covered quickly.
At the beginning of the second lap Team VCC played its first card with a planned attack by Chris Heron. Again the group had too many fresh legs for the move to stick, but it was a bit of foreshadowing for what Chris had in store for the group later in the race. Not long after Chris was caught, John Hartnett of Soraz got to the front and put in a big pull gapping the field. I went with him and we took a few pulls before the group pulled us back as well. This field had more strong individuals in the race than I have seen in awhile, and they were loathe to let a break get away.
Early in the third lap a guy went off the front, not so much with an attack, but with a steady acceleration. The field did not respond, and with his good TT strength, he continued to increase the gap. At one point in the last lap he had a minute lead on the group, but Adam Hadley moved to the front and pushed the pace with some others closing the gap at a steady pace. The group was back together at the last turn, and not long into the rollers another rider went off the front. He too grew a solid gap, but as we set to work on the second to last hill we could see that he was struggling and would not stay away. We caught him just before the finish hill and all the fastest guys were literally lined up across the lane in a snow plow formation. No one wanted to eat the wind, yet no one wanted to get boxed in either. At the bottom of the hill I was lamenting this formation and was concerned for the lack of organization in the group and likelihood of attacks. This concern would not materialize with Chris Heron in the race!
Chris stepped out of a phone booth and onto the front of the pack accelerating in a brutal and steady manner that had people cursing all the way back to Salem. I saw him fishing around in his bulging jersey and my eyes got as big as saucers as I saw him produce a grenade! Simultaneously Chris accelerates again with a ‘Jens’ depth of suffer, takes the circular pin in his teeth, and tosses the frag over his shoulder. To say he blew up the field is a gross understatement. He turned an intact field into a scattered string of carnage in two brutal accelerations that had the entire field thinking about changing from bike riding to crochet and pottery!
Chris exited stage right with 250 to go to reveal a small group that was able to hold his wheel and the trailing scattered field created by the industrial pistons attached to Chris’ hips. There were eight of us left and again, the group stalled briefly as none of us wanted to eat the wind sooner than necessary. John Hartnett took the lead briefly to pick up the pace, and then he too pulled off the front. With 200 to go I thought the finish line was within reach. I dropped a couple gears and accelerated. I was all in at this point. I buried my head and dug with everything I could! I saw the finish line approaching quickly and was feeling optimistic, but then a rider came charging up on my right and Piece of Cake winner Kyle Medlin on my left. I pushed and pulled with everything I had and kept my head buried. The finish line was too close to call and I was utterly cooked from the sprint. We waited about 10 minutes before the judges printed the results showing that I got first! AWESOME! .12 seconds between 1st and 2nd in a 2.5hr race!! It was the team’s first Men’s Cat3 win of the season and we were ecstatic! Chris Heron was jumping up and down and landed his 200+ pounds on me which required serious effort to hold up! It was a great win on a great day, and Chris and Adam delivered on amazing heroics!
Women’s Cat 3: 6th Place
Sydney has a full winter of warm weather training in her legs and has already notched a win this season at Cherry Pie. At Kings Valley she was racing in a combined 1/2/3 women’s field with the like of Sue Butler, Brianna Walle, and Tina Brubaker. It was a tough long race of 56 miles. Again there were periods of surprisingly cautious riding where no one wanted to eat too much wind followed by attacks and counter attacks. In the sprint finish on the final hill the accelerations were significant and fierce. The 3’s were scored separately from the 1/2s and Sydney sprinted to 6th place.
Men’s Cat 4/5: 3rd, 4th and 16th Places
OBRA combined the Men’s 4/5 field at the Kings Valley Road Race and VCC made the most of the opportunity sending all our riders. Jay Penry prides himself in going deep on the solo pulls and would put this to good use throughout the race.
Jay 'The Joker' lives a life accompanied by a sharp sense of humor and employs it often. In this case his sense of humor would be at the expense of the Men’s Cat4/5 field. The group had barely made the left turn onto the course before Jay is accelerating off the front. Apparently Jay has never heard the wisdom ‘Never cook bacon naked’, because he was a one man show of cooking the field in solo breaks and when they would bring him back he would attack again, and again, and again!!! Jay turned this race into a suffer fest that set up Stew and Neil for a strong finish!
With just a couple miles left in the race Stew and Neil were in 5th and 6th wheels, and the guy in 7th wheel hit the deck taking out almost the entire field! Luckily no one was badly injured and only a front group of about 10 was in the lead for the finish.
Stew is a climber, sprinter and all around strong man that is hidden in a tall frame. He took this broad skill set to the finish and proceeded to drive the entire finish hill like a man possessed! One guy jumped him a bit early to take the win and one more guy rode his wheel all the way to the finish line to nip him for second. Stew and Neil finish an amazingly strong 3rd and 4th out of a field of 57!! Jay despite killing the field all day long finished 16th!!!
Neil is a damn beast, and every time I ride with him my legs hurt. Neil, Stew, and Jay are all sitting on a powder keg of power with a short fuse. They are cutting their teeth in the 4/5 fields like quarterbacks in development. I know this for a fact: As the season develops they are all going to do MAJOR damage to any field and any race!