Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Almanzo 100 (103.5) #3 & The Big Beat
I wanna tell you about The Almanzo 100 and the Big Beat
Comes out of the Rochester gravel
Cool and slow with plenty of headwinds
With a side wind oscillating and hard to master
Some call it heavenly in it's brilliance
Others, mean and ruthful of the Almanzo dream
I love the friends I have gathered together on this 103.5 miles stretch of Minnesota gravel
We have constructed pyramids in honor of Chris Skogen
This is the land where the carp died....
Ok, enough. The 2009 Almanzo 100 was one of the longest days I've spent on a bike. Definitely the windiest. With the neutral roll-out leaving Bicycle Sports at 8:00 a.m., Kelly Mac & I were still standing in line to use the pissoir. Since Mr. Skogen was giving us the roll-out to the edge of town to avoid any red light snafus, I was able to reconnect to the front group before the first major climb. Then, as it usually happens, the "selection" was made. I was unable to hang and spent the first half of the race riding with Nick, Kevin, the dude from Badger Cycles, and eventually J.P. Nick rolled off in search of top 10 before the first check point in Chatfield. We charged out of town, turned left on Magnum Road and enjoyed some new climbs and descents that were not on last year's route.
By the "official" check point in Spring Valley it was still windy (and about to get windier). This was the only stop where riders could receive outside assistance. I grabbed my 2nd series of tulip notes and headed into the Kwik Trip for some Gatorade™, Starbucks Frappacino™, and stuffed a can of Coke™ in my jersey. Nick, who had gotten lost, pulled up as I was heading in. He took off again, solo. Kevin and E. Fresh pulled up, so J.P. and I waited for them. Along with Dennis (?-Badger) we left as a group of 5. E. Fresh rolled to the front, followed by Kevin. I was 3rd wheel, glued to Kevin's wheel. I looked up and saw that E. Fresh had rolled off the front. From that point onward he was just a carrot dangling on the horizon. Our remaining group of four tried to paceline/echelon, but it was purgatory, sometimes riding at a 45° angle due to the relentless head and side winds. Eventually, I was able to get away from the other three, and rode the majority of the final 30 miles solo, always seeing the red Amstel Bier jersey of E. Fresh just far enough away to not get caught. I finally rolled across the finish line 7:39:18 after I had started. Cold Summit beer awaited all the riders at the finish, and it was much appreciated. Kevin, Dennis, and J.P. clawed their way in 12-16 minutes after me.
While all of this was going on, Kelly Mac was hammering her stock-gearing Masi Especial fixed (48 x 16?!?) to first place in the women's division.
Chris Skogen (& crüe) deserves enormous praise for putting this event on. Not only is the race fun* as hell, the race packets are frameable art, there is free beer at the finish, and the entry fee remains an astonishing $0. I give my complete and total thanks and respect to everyone involved in this production. It is already on my calendar for 2010.
*"fun" is relative. Going into the pain cave is, in my opinion, fun.
Photos courtesy of Thirteen of Clubs