My first Pando race was the fall classic 2 years ago. A broken leg prohibited me from participating in last years race. I remember enjoying the course and have been looking forward to racing it. So, when Rick asked for teammates to race on a four man team for the 6 hour of Pando I did not hesitate. Not only would it be a good refresher for the fall race, but it would also keep Marnie off of my ass. You see she has become the unofficial team manager/motivator. Ever reminding us how many races we have (or in most cases have not) done. Two birds, one stone, and with a 4 person team I would only have to race 1.5 hours (4 laps) before I could sit back and enjoy a few IPAs.
The motley four man crew consisted of Old man Plite, Popz Popielarz, a finely aged slab of Bacon and myself (dubbed by my teammates as the roadie of the bunch). After a couple very brief conversations it was agreed that we would each ride a continuous 1.5 hour (aprox 4 lap) shift. Rick and I decided to take the first half of the race so we would have time to sit and enjoy the weather and beer while Paul and B-Rad worked clean up. Easy enough.
Rick went off first. Starting ON the ski slope looked pretty painful. No lead up, no momentum. Luckily the rest of us would be able to hit it rolling. We did a very poor job of keeping track of lap times. However, it seemed that Rick was turning laps at aprox 20-22 minutes. So after he started lap 4 I geared up and did a quick warm up spin. Rolling in at a shift time of 1:36 he gave me some of the most deeply prophetic cycling advice of my life; “Pedal hard”. So I did. Up the ski hill I went. Call me sick, but this was actually my favorite part of the race course. Nothing technical. Just find your gear, drop your heels and mash those goddamn pedals. It felt good. My first lap was out of the way in about 19 minutes. I knew I went out a little too hard, I tend to do this a lot. So, the next 3 laps were 2-3 minutes slower. Over all I felt great, but I was ready to sit my ass in a chair and put a cold bottle of Centennial in my hand. With this motivation I hammered through the last few tight turns in the woods, left hand swoop and a super fast descent through the shoot to be greeted by my trusty teammate Paul. Ummm….Paul? Hey Paul? Has anyone seen Paul? After a 5-6 minute search party Popz emerged from the parking lot. ” I thought I had until 3:30!”. No, Paul. This is not the 7 hours of Pando. 6. There are 6 hours in the 6 hours of Pando. It is not just a clever name. Can we get this guy a math tutor or is this where the ” old dog, new tricks” saying applies. I digress.
Popz and Bacon both turned out seemingly impressive lap times. Like I said, we weren’t really keeping track of times. But damn they looked fast. Now, turns out there was only one other team in our class. So far, we were up by a lap on them. This is where facts get a bit fuzzy. You see, I distinctly remember B-Rad saying from the get go that he was good for 5-6 laps if need be (and I have a witness that will testify to this). Therefore, if Brad only did 4 laps and the other team made it in time to squeeze in an extra lap it could get interesting. If Brad did 5 laps, this thing was in the bag. However, after 4 laps, the Bacon came through the shoot and rolled back up to the team tent. “What are you doing? We need one more lap!”
” Rob said he was going to do another lap.”
Believe me, this was nowhere in the race plans. If I even thought this was a remote possibility I would not have had the 4th beer or the 2nd hotdog. I sat for a minute before realizing that my teammates were looking at me as if to say “somebody has to do it and it sure as hell won’t be us”. At this point I thought we could still lose this thing. So I slammed the rest of my beer, threw on my gear and back up the hill I went for lap number 5…cursing my teammates with every pedal stroke. Anyone who has ever followed me home after a visit to Founders knows what happens after I have couple beers. I actually get faster. I am not sure what my lap time was, but I like to think it was my fastest lap of the day. I think I may try to find a way to fit beer breaks into more of my races. Through the finish shoot one last time and back to the team tent. Funny thing, when all was said and done we actually ended up winning by 2 laps. Making my heroic (I like to think of it as heroic) last lap completely unnecessary. I guess this is all part of the initiation process. But I wonder, how long does the damn initiation process last?
Dennis Murphy also took home first place in the 6 Hour 50+ solo race. This, even after a bad leg cramp had him sitting in the team tent drinking a beer, contemplating dropping out. Then, after a good 15-20 minutes, he limped back to his trusty, squishy Cannondale and ended up burning up the race course 3 MORE TIMES! I am telling you, the fountain of youth is laced with hops and barley.
Great job Murph!
Great day for Founders Racing!