Saturday, August 23, 2008

Chris Clark gets top results in Hotter 'n'Hell

After a miserable night Thursday with little to no sleep and much queasiness, I realized I was not going to be able to do the work thing Friday so I figured why not ride 9.5 hrs to a 100 mile race for the weekend?

We loaded up at Mockler Beverages into Patrick Mockler's RV around 5 AM. Me, Greg, Big Chris, Rupert, CG, Frank, Joey, took off with Patrick at the wheel on what can be described as nothing short of adventure. After a long hard day of riding in luxury, we arrived in Burkburnett at our accommodations, a minor league ball dorm complete with a rec room beyond compare, and all of the amenities of home for about half the price of a cheap hotel room. After unpacking, we headed over to the check-in site to peruse the 1,000s of square feet of vendors and watch the P/1/2 Crit.

Bikes were everywhere! with over 10,000 riders, this is easily the biggest cycling event I've attended. The atmosphere was electric with everyone from the hardcore racers to the weekend recreation riders with their kids bathing themselves in everything bike. After getting our numbers and checking out all the amazing bikes and merchandise, we grabbed a spot near the start/finish line of the crit in time to watch the end of the women's race. The winner had at least a minute on the field. It wasn't even close. The men's race was much more exciting with constant attacks and counter attacks that seemed like they might stick, but never did. The final sprint was entertaining because the announcer and balloon arch were at the 100m mark, sooo, when the rider in front raised his hands, 3 other guys were able to beat him for the real finish. Poor guy didn't even realize he lost until he came back around!

The day of the race:

We headed over before dawn to be there in plenty of time for the 6:50 start time. Better to race early than in the heat of the day. At the start I realized that the new cyclometer I installed around 10:30 the night before was on km (inexcusable not to check it) so I was doing lots of calculating to figure out where the neutral feed zones were try and have an idea of speed. Turned out, none of that mattered after my magnet got wonky and worked when it felt like it.

Anyway, started mid-pack and felt comfortable. I'll take other riders' word on the pace, they claimed we jumped up to 30mph pretty quickly, but with nothing but flat ground in a pack of 80 riders, it felt like coasting most of the time. Started looking to move up and see the front around mi 25 when my front tire starts hissing. A flat! As I coasted back to the wheel truck I began to get worried that my race was over. I watched the peleton march off into the distance as I waited for the driver to SLOWLY (at least it felt like it) find my wheel so I could change it. Truck takes off at full speed, so no help there, but I can still see the pack and I've been working on my TT anyway--I might be able to catch them. 5 miles later I latch on right before the first neutral feed. Woohoo! Didn't take a bottle as I was trying to catch my breath. RULE #1: Always take a bottle when offered at a neutral feed!

My legs appreciated the work and felt strong after a couple of easy miles, but we still had 70 to go I and I was pretty toasted, so I hung out at the back, surges weren't too bad and the "hills" slowed the pack down to a crawl. Sad, really. The next neutral feed at mile 60 I was sure to take a bottle. I had to slow down and get over, which was really bad because the pack opened it up and I had to work with 2 other guys to bridge the gap. Legs didn't like that. After a salt pill, my legs quit complaining but I knew I had to start rationing my remaining water and take it easy to finish without dehydrating or cramping.
Other riders tried, but none could get a break on this field. Too flat and too many eager unattached riders ready to chase them down, unlike in the 1/2 race where the lead 3 finished with 2 min on the field.

Mile 90 brought two full lanes and a shoulder for the peleton to stretch out. Unfortunately, with tired riders mixing it up wheels get overlapped and a crash took out a bank of mailboxes to my right. Everyone was alright, but it demonstrated how tired and careless everyone was getting. Worried about surviving late attacks without locking up, I played it extra safe and recognized the jump for the finish too late as we entered the city up a steep overpass into a mini-crit finish. Came across the line in 58th place 30 seconds behind the leader after 4hr 30min. Not a bad day considering I haven't ridden a full century since March.

CG and Rupert were waiting for me after the finish having ridden the 25 miler. Joey came in next under 5hrs with Chris, Patrick, and Greg making it in just over 6. Frank completed his 100 miles in about 8.5 hours, which is understandable given his 50lbs of camera equipment and two extra changes of clothes. Don't ask.

Overall the trip was a great experience that I'd recommend to anyone. I made several great friends and had a blast. To team Whataburger 7112, you guys rock!

Results of everyone from Louisiana who raced at today's Hotter'n'Hell road races in Wichita Falls, Texas.

JUNIOR OPEN (100 kilometers)

Elliot Moore (Monroe), 4th, 2:50:59 (21.8 mph avg.)

CAT. 5's (100 kilometers)

Brantley Stephens (Shreveport), 16th, 2:42:19 (22.9 mph avg.)
Seth Thomas (Shreveport), 53rd, 2:43:15 (22.8 mph avg.)

CAT. 4's (100 miles)

Christopher Clark (Baton Rouge), 58th, 4:33:24 (21.9 mph avg.)
Brady Harbrake (Baton Rouge), 61st, 4:33:29 (21.9 mph avg.)
Michael Lyons (Lake Charles), 80th, 5:36:16 (17.8 mph avg.)

Pro-CAT. 1-2's (100 miles)
Russ Walker (Shreveport), 3rd, 4:09:45 (24.0 mph avg.)

All res! ults can be found at:

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