Monday, June 25, 2012

RAPHA North East Gentlemans Race

Wild Ones -Flo Rida

(probably not on Rapha tune list/but in my head much of race)
Rode the RAPHA North East Gentlemen Race on Saturday and I can't thank Team Upton Bass enough for the opportunity.  They lost one of their riders the day before the race and invited me to be the sixth man on their team.  It was a real honor to roll strong with those guys.   I'll start this entry from the end.  It was a wild one and we won.  It took us 8:15 hours to finish just 12 minutes ahead of Team STRAVA.  Here's how it went down. 

Our 'Upton Bass' Team
Derek Tredwell, Former Pro-Tri, 1st Mt Wash.Newton Revenge &1st Killington SR cat 2,
Keith Kelly, 1st 04 NCAA Div 1 & Irish Nat'l X-County Champ & 1st @Norwell cat 1-2
Ryan Serbel, Connecticut State Crit Champ 2010,cat 1
Alejandro Cifuentes, Fast rising up & comer, cat 2
Ricky Visinski, cat 1 all rounder
and myself. 

The Gentleman's is a non sanctioned, unsupported and unmarked race consisting of 27 x 6 man teams racing 124 miles over horrific terrain.  Rapha does 'Gentlemans' all around the globe.  There are just two in the United States.  One in the NorthWest and the other in the NorthEast.  This years' NE Gentlemans started in Hanover, NH next to Dartmouth College.  The majority of the course looped through Vermont; Sixty five percent of it over brutal dirt & gravel roads (in the rain Saturday) with 14,000 feet of grueling climbing.  Truely a wild one. The only thing Rapha gives you is a Garmin and a course Que Sheet.  The only other thing you see from them are film crews stealthily situated on various points along the route (usually particularly gnarly) documenting the whole thing.  On one open section they had a small remote control helicopter/camera flying and filming us from overhead, which I thought was pretty toiyght.

The Gentlemen's is a team time trial. The winning team has to finish with all six guys.  So you have to ride for each other, watch out for each other and ride like hell.  I didn't see the list of teams beforehand but a quick glance at the start revealed guys from all corners of the North East, including Quebec-Canada, New York City and Philadelphia to mention a few.  Truth be told I could barely contain my stoke when I saw all these guys.  The scene had all the makings for something special and I was totally amped, albeit, a little tired though, because I'd done hard hill repeats (to failure) that morning not knowing I'd be racing the hardest day of my life in less than 20 hours.

Yeah, so like I said, this was the hardest thing, day, race...whatever, I have ever done on a bike.  Hands down...Absolutely Epic!  Let me define 'Epic' by borrowing a definition from my friend Lucy Mossman.  

"It's not epic unless there is an authentic and a high probability of danger.  There has to be real risk.  Being hard, simply isn't enough to be epic.  Epic means you can get genuinely fucked...LOST lost, HURT hurt, Stuff breaking bad, equipment and bones, but you have to keep going cuz nobody is coming for you". 

The Gentleman's Race is these things.  Having said that, as gritty, brutal and grueling as it is, The Gentleman's also provides qualities of elegance that enhance, even change one's mind perceptions, imagery and colorings of cycling racing.  Did for me anyway and for my teammates as well.

I could write for hours on the blow by blow but you get the picture.  Here's the skinnie version.  The Gentleman's race used similar staging to last weekends 148 mile B2B, seating the teams from (estimated) slower to faster.  We were the last team to start, going off at 8:50am.  8:15 hours later we rolled into the finish area just before 5:00pm totally rung out. The gnarliest climb of the day was what we dubbed 'The swamp'.  The swamp was more of a busted up trail than a road.  It was a super steep extended section of mud, ruts, loose gravel and slippery rocks the size of basketballs.  It was raining hard so the rain drainage formed a vigorous little creek carving a nasty deep rut zigzagging through the trail like a strand of discarded spaghetti.  Speed through the swamp was maybe 2-3 mph and required maximum effort to keep things moving forward.  It was so tough in fact that a guy supporting the film crew on a decked out duel-sport on/off road motor bike crashed on one of the ruts and couldn't remount alone.  A couple of our guys (Keith & Derek) stopped to help the guy out.  It took all of three of them to get the bike up and going again.  Uh huh...see the picture now...it was like that.  EPIC.....

Peace and roll strong!

PS; I didn't have time to plan equipment.  I swapped out wheels from my usual carbon Corima's to aluminum rims and put new 25mm gators on but that's about it. 

Equipment:
Bike, flax fiber Museeuw MC2 -Super comfortable
Wheels, aluminum Mavic Carbone -bullet proof clinchers
Tires, out of the box Conti-gaters 25mm -just one flat
Gear, 39x25 -needed a 28 

4 comments:

  1. Congrats jug, that's a heck of a ride for you and your team mates! I was one of the green Tall Tree Cycles guys you passed. Our highest climbing gear was a 34x28; a few of us were loving our 34x34s! We lost one of our guys to a tubular debacle, but finished 5-strong and had a wicked day. Hope to have opportunity to 'chase' you guys next year.

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  2. All good my dude. Sorry to hear about your mechanical. We had just two flats and got twisted on directions only couple of times but nothing too crazy. Awesome to ride with Canadians as crazy or crazier than us. Peace.

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  3. Hey, Skip. Thanks for mentioning this. Enjoyed the write-up. It does sound EPIC. I like how you just slide in at the last minute and your team wins! Is it called the Gentlemen's 'cause you all stick together?

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  4. Sure John. Saw your Dartmouth Cap & figured I'd mention it. It's called The Gentlemen's Race because, I don't know? If I had to guess Id say its throw back verbiage to the days of bare knuckle boxing and such.

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