Rough Rides at RATL with Ry and Rae

Team Mandalore’s RATL #4 lineup was Ryan (mens 4, masters) and Rae (womens 4)… The first hot day of the year brought smiles and dehydration to all. The team donated prizes to the juniors racers prime laps, which was probably the highlight of a day that went pretty rough for our crit racing friends. First, a few notes on juniors prizes, then a report from the Mandos.

The local juniors race usually splits into 2 distinct groups – the teenagers (fast!) and the under 12’s (doing their best!) so we opted to donate $10 in prizes and split it two ways. Both groups got stickers and patches from us and we included a $10 note for the older kids and a box of 50 Dunkin Donuts donut holes for the younger kids. Did you know you can get FIFTY DONUT HOLES FOR $9.79? Now you do. It’s true that one junior complained she would rather have $10 worth of hummus (Rae’s response: you need to put that request in before you are on the start line) and many of the kids stopped by the possum van to say “thanks!” Kids deserve good stuff- that’s a primary function of our team.

Next up, a recap from Ryan:
So RaTL Week 4 was easily the best weather of the whole series, would that also mean the best racing? Well, yes and no! After three weeks of the same old entry-level racing, as far as what you can expect with regards to race tactics, etc., week 4 saw the first successful break away attempt in the Men’s 4/5 field… But I didn’t make it into the break away … On the contrary, My early efforts are probably what the break away “broke away” off of. See, my plan this race (after learning?? in the first three races) was to conserve my energy early on and not take any turns on the front until at least half-way through the race. Is that what happened? No, no it was not! I summarily led the race for the first three laps. Was I being aggressive and riding off the front thinking, “This might not work, but at least I’m making the race faster and trying to pose a threat”? Again, nope! I was simply riding at the front, doing all the work for the pack without getting any kind of advantage… So, when I tried to (finally) recover and drift back among the pack, the strongest racers attacked me and I was unable to respond, and was probably blocking anyone else who wanted to attack. SMH Well, I did recover in the remaining pack as we picked up a couple break away members who fell off and ended up nabbing 2nd in the group sprint of this group and 7th overall in the race.

The Masters race this week was a bit more tame. There were no break away attempts that got more than a few seconds before being closed down, but the quality of riding was a bit more sketchy. More people were being reckless (or at least less careful in the pack) I got into a few situations where I thought I was going to crash, none which actually caused me or anyone else to go down, but I did suffer two broken spokes as I was squeezed in between two other racers and my wheel went into another bikes frame as it was rolling along. I saved it and didn’t go down, but my front wheel was a casualty and I had to pull out of the race. On the good side, I have learned to adopt some smarter strategies for riding in a group like that, making myself bigger to let others know I’m there (using my elbows when needed) and trying to avoid those kind of situations in general. All-in-all, a good racing weekend although I would have liked to do better in each race. We’ll have to see what the series results have in store, but overall I’m pleased with my performance in this series. In the Men’s 4/5 field, never did I place in the bottom 50% of the field. In the Master’s field I have some work to do. Ok, that’s it RaTL recap done!


And from Rae:
This week’s womens field was numerically improved with 7 racers in the 1/2/3 category and 7 in 3/4! It was awesome to line up with so many friends, old and new. I figured the group would split up pretty quickly, as the Velofemme ladies have been launching attacks no later than the 3rd lap, so I was prepared to fight for 4th or 5th place with the other “womenopausal” riders. My friends Kim & Mary Beth are just about my pace and I was stoked to have a good group of 3 to work with. We had some newcomers (3 ladies actually doing their first race ever!) and they all turned out to be real quick.

I had a long work week – I’m a manual labourer part time when I’m not teaching art- lifting rocks and digging holes is like doing weighted squats for 12 hours a day 3 times a week! My hammies were do sore Saturday morning, I considered skipping out all together, but then I remembered I made our friend Sara a promise to sign up for every single race just to increase the number of women participating. You can’t moan about the lack of women as much as I do then skip a race. Plus, with EOTT coming the next day, I was worried that if I didn’t race, I wasn’t going to ride at all, just putting off the inevitable shite performance by 24 hours.

I had some solid 18-20mph laps towing Mary and Kim before my little crew settled in to trading positions between 17.5 & 18 mph. With 3 laps to go, I got the world’s worst cramp in my right hammy. Like, did you ever get a cramp in your foot that just dropped you to the ground? It was like that, but in the back of my thigh. And twitching. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure there was no traffic behind me and dodged to the side of the road, trying not to crash from the pain. When I passed the timing table, Ana yelled to me, “Rae what’s wrong?” I yelled back “Hammy cramp. Really bad! I’ll ride it out.” So my third to last lap was a 15 mile per hour whimper fest- I chugged my Nuun (glad I left my bottle on, sometimes I take it off for racing) and by the time i got back to the finishing hill I was ready to sprint again. I finished alone, as strong as I could, for an eventual finish of 6 out of 7. But I finished my laps. And Kim waited for me at the finish line, a tradition I hope we will keep up at all the races we attend together.

Ryan, Rae & RATL 3

The third installment of Races at the Lake brought some really beautiful weather. Ryan doubled up in Mens Cat4 and Masters 35+ while Rae made a return to Womens Cat4.

Primes this week were $20 Taco Bell gift cards & Ryan went for it, grabbing those snacks & taking 10 seconds off his usual lap time for this course! Unfortunately, that effort cost him in the subsequent laps and he ended up with an overall placement of 10th out of 21. We think he made the right choice, as at this local series, there’s no cash payout for Mens 4/5 and you can’t eat a top five placement medal!

After a short break, he lined back up with mens masters, finishing 5th but feeling pretty burned up. Back to back racing is hard, but 5th in mens masters does pay a small purse. Says Ryan, “hey! I got paid to race TWICE today!”

Mothers day weekend did not bode well for Womens attendance, with only 7 riders reporting to the line. RATL breaks the ladies field up into 2 groups: Categories 1/2/3 and Categories 4/5. The disparity in speed and skill at these smaller local races is pretty big… Our friends Liz & Laura, from Team Velofemme, launched an attack on lap 3 and quickly separated themselves from competitors Addy & Marie, who were left with more than a 3 second gap in a race for 3rd place. Bonnie, a cat4 who comes to visit us sometimes from Pittsburgh is *almost* as fast as the 1/2/3 group, but only for about 35 of the 45 minutes. She lapped Rae in the final lap, after Rae had already lapped the 3rd racer, Kim.

There’s so much debate in the community about how to get more women racing and we’ll just leave that for another time, but here’s hoping for a bigger turnout for the 4th and final race of this series, on May 14th, where Team Mandalore will be providing primes for the Juniors racers.

more weekends is more fun!

we have some cool updates and photos to share from the first 2 weeks of june. first up, lebanon crit, p/b Queen City Wheels:

allen is learning how to be a USA Cycling offical and this was his first race doing timing and kitten herding. he gets to wear a fancy shirt and carry a clipboard and we think that’s smashingly cool.

ryan: work on your beard game, please. allen: keep up the good work.



ryan attended as a racer and provided the following report:

The race was fun, but super short! It was a packed field, they capped it at 75 racers and that’s what we had. The course was fast and technical with a modest climb on the front straight away and a descent through 4 corners on the back half of the course. I started out pretty fast, but I got caught up in a mid-pack group through the technical section on the first lap and the front groups were just pulling away. At about 5 laps in, the primary race official called out to my group of 7-8 that this would be our last lap because the leaders were about a quarter lap from catching us, so thus began our group’s last lap race for position which resulted in losing one position and finishing in 39th place after only 5-6 miles or racing… It was still fun and my legs and heart told me the race was plenty fast, but after the race was over, I went out for another hour ride to feel like I got the work I signed up for.

the total cost of the wheels in this picture is more than our possum van…

everyone knows weekends are for playing bikes with friends… dave, allen and rae spent some quality family time in and around wayne national forest this past weekend. the wildcat gravel grinder route is as brutal as promised! this weekend, the route was cut short because NO ONE brought enough water. the sad thing about this is, there is a filtration kit in the possum van, we just didn’t bring it. lesson learned: ALWAYS carry the filter because when it’s 90 degrees and 85% humidity and you’re out of water, every muddy puddle you ride by looks like a life saver.

the day ended over 40 miles with somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 feet of elevation, depending on which gps device you’re looking at. if anyone would like to hip us to the cause of these discrepancies, please chime in. we know we’re not that good at math, but…

post-ride raid on the crooksville ice cream stand!

the second weekend of june wrapped up for us at the COMBO great seal funduro. enduro is a strange kind of mountain bike event. rae provides the following observations:

“enduro”… we need to reevaluate the cost-benefit analysis on this one. dave and i drove 3 hours to great seal state park so he could join about 100 other guys who hate climbing in some kind of strange, self destructive mtb ritual. enduro participants lollygag their way up a very steep hill, arriving at the “start line” (read: top) in no particular order. this seemingly disorganised mess is then released from the top one at a time with about 60 seconds between. it seems like it takes them close to a half hour to get to the top and then about 3 minutes to get back down. timing starts at the drop in and ends at the road. or near the road. i guess they just bolt an rfid reader to a tree? whatever. i stood in the road.

so if you’re providing support, you stand at the bottom of the hill and look up into the trees, which emit a combination of man screaming, howling disc brake sounds, occasional bike crash noises and gangsta rap. as the sounds get closer, you lean cautiously toward the trail’s exit to see if it’s your rider. when it’s not, you go back to swatting black flies off your face and chatting with the IMBA medical team. for their own part, the IMBA medical team asks bloodied up riders if they know where they are. if a rider can accurately describe the location and race, they are released for the next stage. many riders arrive at the bottom covered in dirt skids and bleeding around the elbows, knees & face.

there are 4 stages for pro, 3 stages for everyone else.

dave had 3 stages and was off in the wilderness for approximately 4 hours.

his total time for all 3 downhill runs was 15 minutes. the first place finisher in his class did it in 11.

so… a 13 hour day total for 15 minutes of downhill. i mean, at least the dog and i got to swim in a little creek, but we need to rethink this!

all smiles on the way to the start line