Lowell 50 Bike Race: 34 Mile Race: Tandem Category, Saturday, October 25, 2014
Never Make Assumptions…
Nancy: It was a beautiful, crisp Fall day, partly cloudy at the start with more sunshine later, 51 degrees at Race start. I had been struggling all Summer and Fall with riding and definitely not feeling like I was in very good shape going in to this race, but on race day I felt pretty good, excited to be there and see how well we could do. We knew we had only one other tandem, coed couple, to compete against in the 34 Mile Race. However when we lined up for the race, we couldn’t tell where the dividing line was between the 57 milers and 34 milers. We saw a coed couple on a white Cannondale and I assumed they were our competition. I looked behind us a couple times at the start but never saw any other tandems. When the 57 mile race started I couldn’t see any of the tandems take off, and again assumed the white Cannondale was in our race.
When the 34 mile race started 5 minutes later I did not see the white tandem, but again assumed they were just further forward in the start line. So we started off fast and strong, making our way through the crowd, continuing to look forward for the white tandem, and never saw them. We made our way across the covered bridge, already seeing people off their bikes on the side of the road, heading toward the first hill called “Rude Awakening”. As we were approaching the hill, I started noticing people getting off their bikes, and thought to myself, “this isn’t good”. So, Tim geared down and we began cranking our way up the hill, which was covered in loose gravel. Other people were having trouble, and we just kept passing people all the way up the hill, even though our back wheel slipped on the loose gravel a few times. Whew! The worst hill in the whole race was done and we were able to enjoy a nice downhill for recovery.
As we hit the flats we began increasing our speed, with lows in the teens and a high of 39 mph, still looking for that white tandem. I was feeling strong, surprised by how good I felt, and I worked hard trying to help out my Captain as much as possible, taking advantage of the downhills for recovery. Tim was riding strong, as usual, breaking the wind for me, so I wasn’t aware of how strong the west wind was until we turned west for the first time. At that point we slowed to around 15 mph and I was wondering “the road is flat, why aren’t we speeding up, trying to catch that white tandem?” At that point, I looked over Tim’s shoulder and got a feel for the strength of the wind and realized he was doing the best he could given the circumstances. Tim’s view: I was sitting in behind another bike drafting 🙂 Yeah, I can’t see anything around Tim, so I didn’t know he was drafting… 🙂
As the racers spread out we eventually joined a group of 6-8 riders who were riding our pace. Of course they hopped on the back of “the Bus” (our tandem’s nickname), and pretty soon we had a train. At one point, Tim pulled off the front to let some of the other riders pull for awhile. The first bike behind us pulled forward for about 15 seconds, then he pulled off letting the next rider take over, as we were making our way to the back of the line. It was funny to see that none of the other riders could pull for more than 10-15 seconds, and within 1-2 minutes we were back at the front of the line, pulling everyone again. It was great they were willing to try, but we had set a pretty fast pace and they just couldn’t keep it up on their own. Tim’s view: a constant rotating pace line didn’t work for us today. 🙁
A few times during the race Tim asked me to look back and look for the other tandem. I was thinking, “why is he asking me to look back when our competition is in front of us”. I didn’t realize until later that he was thinking all along the white tandem was probably in the 57 mile race, which is why we never saw them. However, I never saw a tandem behind us either, and kept thinking they were in front of us. We kept pedaling along, taking advantage of the flats and downhills, at one point hitting 39 mph.
Around mile 17 I had resigned myself to the fact that we were probably in second place, and I was okay with that, but I wanted to see how well we could do, and kept working as hard as I could. Tim was putting forth a great effort, and since the roads were in very good shape, we were traveling at a fast pace.
As we hit White Bridges road, heading south toward the finish, we were feeling pretty good and we picked up the pace, hitting a couple more good hills, feeling strong. Eventually we started dropping the other riders, with one or two riders hanging on. We had one mile to go and cranked it up for a strong finish, coming across the finish line at 1:46:23 with a 19.19 average. Tim dropped me off at the “little girls room” and watched the other riders coming across the finish line. As I returned he told me, “a green Comotion tandem came across finish line a few minutes after us”. I was shocked! Tim told me later that he always thought the other tandem was behind us, but since we never saw them, he couldn’t be sure. As a result of our hard work, we took first place.
My lesson for the day: Never make assumptions… cause you’re usually wrong. 🙂
Some other quotes of the day:
Tenner- “I felt really strong today and rode with the lead group for 20 miles. Too bad it’s a 34 mile race….”
Marne- “I took 2nd in women 40-49…1st was 1:52:59, I was 1:54:25. Close…I just can’t compete with 40 year old stay at home moms. I ended up 3rd overall women. Then later they said, “Marnie, I think you were 4th…we’ll know tomorrow.” Oh brother.
Earl- “Early flat and busting wind for 12th”
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Tim Curtis Tandem 1
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Rob Meendering 34 Mile Men 17
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Dennis Murphy 60 Mile Men 4
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Marnie TenCate 34 Mile Women 2
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Scott TenCate 34 Mile Men 5
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Earl Hillaker 60 Mile Men 12
Lowell 50 Fall Edition Jeremy Karel 60 Mile Men 3