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The Ronde van Palouse ended up being a shell game for me.
I most certainly do not mean a “shell game” in the respect that I was trying to trick my fellow racers into thinking that I was not feeling well…that I was feigning weakness…
…nope I got shelled. Quickly. Abruptly. But that is not the type of shelled I’m speaking of. Yesterday I realized that I am a shell of who I used to be on the bike. What a difference a year makes. One year ago I was killed at the Ronde van Palouse but a lot of that was due to an untimely flat. Once I finished the race I drove 5+ hours spent the night in Tumwater, WA and raced over 90 miles the next day and felt really good doing it. Yesterday I was spat out the back of the peloton before the race really started and after 8 miles of a group ride today I pulled the plug and rode home. Like I said what a difference a year makes.
I can’t stress enough that the Ronde van Palouse is a brutally hard race. I thought I was ready for it, but I was not. In retrospect my poor performance is probably due to racing the Cherry Blossom Cycling Classic last weekend and a hard ride this past week. Realistically it’s hard to come back after what happened to me a year ago. I’m not going to belabor that point too much. The amount I train is not like it was a year ago. I ride less. I train less. I hate the idea of training in traffic. It freaks me out to ride in traffic. Oh well…I need to get over it and I’m hoping the passing of April 15th helps me with that. However, I’m not an idiot. I know the date means nothing and the reality is that there will be no magical “closure” that happens because a year has passed. But a Man can hope…
A brief report on the “race” and I use that term lightly. Racing occurs when you are with others and competing against them. I probably rode 65 of the 71 miles by myself…in the wind…in the hills…in the gravel…by myself…I might as well have been doing a brutal training ride. Yet, I finished which is a lot more than I can say for others who did the race. If your idea of racing is sitting in a peloton all day and “hiding” form the wind or your competitors then the RVP is not for you. The RVP is a hard race. It’s not only physically tough…but mentally tough as well. I quit it many times yesterday. In fact, I quit bike racing as a whole many times yesterday…but I still finished the race. The wind was brutal. The course, although no big climbs, has no flat spots either. You are always going up and into the headwind or a crosswind but always some type of damn wind.
I’m a big science dork. I like to analyze everything. People who really know me would say I overanalyze everything. I downloaded my data from the race and was shocked at what I saw. This was the hardest ride I had done in three years. No wonder I hurt so badly. The amount of work I did? Over 3200 kJ. Think about that for a second. When was the last time you went out on a Saturday afternoon and decided to burn 3200 calories? What. A. Fucking. Idiot. I. Am.
Normal people do yard work or go shopping on their Saturday. Me…I did the Ronde van Palouse. And even after my misery that I endured yesterday, the time I spent in the 10th circle of hell known as Rattlers Run road, and the self doubt I possessed…I know I’ll be back again. And I suggest that you come race it too.
The Ronde Van Palouse is this weekend in Spangle, Washington. If you race bicycles or pretend that you are an amateur bike racer I suggest you do the race. Spokane Rocket Velo (SRV) is promoting this race for the second year and hopefully it will start to grow. It is one of the toughest courses in the state of Washington that is currently used for bike races (Which is the toughest? I would say the Malaga course in Wenatchee.) No courses in Western Washington come close as far as difficulty and none of the Walla Walla courses stack up either.
The beauty of the RVP course is not the four mile stretch gravel/dirt road you have to ride but the unrelenting hills of the Palouse and the wind that accompanies them. It’s brutal. Absolutely brutal but fun as hell…if, and only if, you are a bike racer. Oh, the scenery is kind of nice too. In a Palouse sort of way.
There are a list of excuses local riders and racers will have for not doing the race and I highly doubt anyone from Western Washington will travel over to race on Saturday. However, I feel that I should chime in and try to convince a few of you. Hell, if I can convince one person who was on the fence about doing this race to try it I will be happy.
So just to address a few “issues” that people have brought up:
“I’d love to do the race but the Volunteer Park Criterium is happening the same day over here in Seattle…it’s a classic!”
Okay, you’re right. It’s a classic and it’s the first crit of the year. I get all that. I really do. But here are the other facts. You suck at crits and there is no way you are going to win it. There are about five people in each category who actually have a legitimate shot at winning it and you, well, you are not one of them. Don’t delude yourself. Fine, you might win a Gu prime. Big deal. You hate Gu anyways. Try something different.
“Really? You expect me to drive all the way to Spokane, get a hotel, pay for gas, etc…when there are two races in Western WA that same weekend?”
Nope, I don’t expect you to do anything. But please, don’t use the money and drive thing as an excuse. For the love of all that is holy you own a $1500 carbon fiber wheel set that you only use on race day and at STP (I won’t make fun of you for doing the corporate challenge gig thing at STP…not yet). You also own a power meter. You are a cat 4 and you spend more money on your cycling equipment than you did on your wife’s engagement ring. Get over the money thing. As far as the drive goes? You’ll spend five hours in a car to race around a tiny lake in March that you never would have known about if it was not for bike racing. Last year I did both the RVP and the Olympic View Road Race. You can do both. You can race a hard race in the Spokane area and then drive over to Olympia to race again the next day. You then can bitch all day long about you “long transfer” you had the night before. So pro…
Seriously though, I did both RVP last year and the OVRR and my ass was kicked. It was a great weekend of bike racing. I was going to fly at Walla Walla. But things changed.
“There’s gravel in the race. I’m a roadie. Not a mountain biker or a cyclocross rider. Plus, it’s not good for my bike.”
It’s freakin’ gravel. It’s not boulders and nails. It’s not like there are landmines strewn about the course. It’s not that big of a deal. And your bike? Your bike will be fine. You are probably the same type of guy/gal who worries about putting their bike on a roof rack. It’s a tool. A bike gets you from point A to point B. You can race on it too. And if you think your Dura-ace crank is going to get messed up from racing it on an unpaved road I suggest you get into therapy…or better yet…go back to racing triathlons where you obviously belong. Bunch of freakin’ pansies…
“I’m a triathleteand this type of road race intimidates me.”
First off…my condolences. I hope you can get through this time in your life and you eventually realize being “okay” at three different sports is not a good way to go through life. Second, look at who won the cat 4 race last year.
“I’m not quite in race shape yet, and it’s such a hard race I’ll just get dropped.”
Reality check. You’ve been saying that same thing for the last couple years. Are you a bike racer? Or are you a bike rider who spends $60 on your club’s jersey? (by the way, I suggest you spend $60 on a few other shirts…sheesh…have you seen your wardrobe as of late? Get some priorities!) The best way to get into shape is to race yourself into shape and this race will kick your fat/skinny ass. It will make you realize a few things too. 1) that you are in shape, 2) that you are not in shape but you are ready to actually commit to training, 3) You are a total bike race poser, it’s time to admit that you are a club rider and that centuries and STP are all you really care about.
“I can’t race, I’m volunteering”
I thank you very much kind sir/madam. Thanks for your help, it’s greatly appreciated.
“I was miserable last year”
So was I. Just like I was miserable every time I did Columbia Plateau. Yet I kept going back. An “n” of one is not a large enough sample size to let you know if you truly like something or not. Come back and try it again. I am. It will be better this time. Unless you are just a miserable person…this race can’t help you with that.
“The fields are probably going to be small.”
Nice attitude jackass. Of course they are going to be smaller if you don’t show up. Who cares about field size? What are you grubbing for upgrade points or something? Here’s the deal with upgrading…you are either good or you are not. Upgrades come when you are ready for it. Small fields? Every field has been down this year. Did you see the pathetic turnout at Mason Lake? As Shawn Howard once told me, “Racers, race.” Show up and race.
“I have family commitments that day.”
Good…go do that…we don’t want your kind around here anyways. Of course, I kid with that. That’s the most legitimate excuse there is. In fact, it’s not an excuse, its called life….I don’t fault you at all.
“I like to race Masters. I just don’t have the time or the ability to compete in categorized races anymore.”
Did you look at the race flyer dumbass? There are master fields for 40+, 50+, and 60+. I hope your name got picked for RAMROD…
“Speaking of masters…The Masters is on this weekend. I really want to watch that”
If you have a bike worth over 3K and you don’t have a DVR you are an idiot. That is all.
“I just tore by ACL.”
Another legitimate excuse, I only threw this one in because this just happened to Kris Holden. Kris towed me around for 30 miles last year in the wind at RVP. It was brutal. It’s unfortunate he can’t race it this year. Actually, he’d still crush me with a torn ACL…hopefully he does not show up.
“I’m peaking for the first Tuesday night race that happens on April 12. I want to win the first series!”
I have nothing to say to you.
“It sounds like you are going to be there and racing the race Ted. The thing is I try and avoid you because you seem like such an opinionated asshole.”
Guilty as charged…well…in the “opinionated” part. I’m really not an asshole. It’s a façade. I’m actually a nice guy who really loves bike racing and I want you to check this race out. It will be like no other race you have done. Trust me…
For more information on the race and some great quotes about it see this month’s issue of “Out There”. Specifically pages 24 and 25. (that caption on the picture lies by the way…Alan was working the race last year…he did not race it…he laughed at us the whole time…I heard him and his bawdy laugh when I flatted and he drove on by…)
Full disclaimer: I am in no way associated with SRV, I spend way more money on bike clothing than I do on regular clothing, I bitch all the time about money and the cost of racing yet I continue to drop a lot of money on my bikes, I’m a mid-pack cat 3 on a good day, and I’ll be getting my ass kicked on Saturday and I’ll have a smile on my face while it happens.