Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Green Cheerleaders

When I was racing and my kids were young, I often had the largest fan contingent of any racer. My wife and four children were at the race giving me five fans, plus about 5% of all the spectators at the race. Today at the Hills of Hell Road Race more than 25 members of my company, including half the motor platoon came to the race in a large van and a truck. It was great to have that many fans. I will post pictures from the race later when I can get them from the various people who took them.

For the bike geeks, the race was an 18-mile out-and-back course on a paved road that runs through the middle of a Fort Sill artillery range. Nobody was shooting on Sunday. I have ridden the road during the week, but the shells pass high overhead on the way to distant targets. The road are made for heavy vehicles but get little traffic compared to a public road so they are very smooth. The course began and ended at a lakeside recreation area at the base of one of the larger hills. We went up three miles form the start on a shallow grade to the west, turned south and went down the steepest hill on the course--a short 7% descent--then on rolling terrain to the turn around.

I finished third overall out of 20 starters. Definitely a citizens race. I rode with the two guys who finished first and second from the beginning of the race till the base of the big climb on the way back. At that point, the 30-year age difference between us took over and I got dropped with four miles to go. First place dropped second in the middle of the climb. Second place was strong, but he had aero bars and lost a lot of ground on the climb. Fourth place finished three minutes behind me.

There was one other racer from our unit, a Blackhawk pilot who has ridden from Portland Oregon to Buffalo NY with her boyfriend. She finished 12th overall and was the first woman. He placing was better than it sounds because she rode my one-speed bike. The chaplain also offered her a loaner race bike, but she wanted to see how well she could do on the one-speed.

I am still coughing three hours later. It was great to hang in with the 20-year-olds for most of the race and to feel like I went as hard as I could.