bikerbert race report: Crits and Oatmeal

For your entertainment: my friend Al/bikerbert describes his most recent crit experience. You might enjoy reading if:

  • You're into the 'elite' world of Cat 5 crit racing
  • You're thinking of ordering oatmeal at Denny's
  • You're too much of a wuss to race crits (like me) and enjoy other people's pain

Today's race was the best one yet in my skinny tire career, 11/21. It started at 5:45am with my wife not being very happy with me because she was "dragged out to Pleasanton" at a time she deemed WAY too early. Wifey, while I love her very much, is extremely allergic (were talking anaphlactic shock) to anything before 9am on the weekends. I've caught a right hook to the chops for violating this rule. In her defense, she gets up every morning at 6 during the week, so she enjoys her Sat/Sun Zzzzzzzzzzz's.

The warm up went really well, and the gams were feeling pretty "goot" as my Austrian friend Angie says. Finished the warm up, got fully accessorized in my AV outfit complete with matching navy blue arm warmers (extremely chic), and it was off to take a couple of laps on course. This is where I met fellow AV rider Sam M, really cool guy, but more about him later. Very nice surface, it would be ideal for a late race attack.

When they put us on the line before the start, I looked to my left, and there was a kid who looked like a razor was not something he'd need for another 10 years. He must not of had too many races under his belt because he had a look of utter terror on his face. I have to be honest, I got a good chuckle out of it. He was at least an 8.5 on the Richter scale too the way his clipped in foot was shaking. He looked like his name was probably Jimmy, and he's the kid who delivers your morning paper pulling a red Radio Flyer wagon along as he says "Good Morning Mr/Mrs insert name here. Swell morning we're having, golly...." He made Beaver Cleaver seem like John Gotti.

Here is an abbreviated version of what happened after the start whistle, and pretty much what happens in all Cat 5 crits (think "Do-doot-do-doot-do-doot" and three green arrows on your Tivo remote. If you don't have Tivo, GET IT FOR GOD'S SAKE. You can watch American Idol in about 7 minutes.):

  • The race starts, you go around a few laps, suckers without teammates attack in the first 10 mins, suffer mercilessly on their own, and get absorbed back into the main field with looks of shock that their attack didn't work for the whole race. Mind boggling, watch VS race coverage one time why don't you.
  • There was also the usual race within the race battle for the wheel of the guy who has a butt three ax handles wide and shoulders to match. I will admit, I think I won this moral victory more than anyone else!
  • We also had the quintessential sketchy rider who takes your life in their hands, and thinks zig zagging in and out of the field, especially in a turn, is the best way to race. Can I be a 4 yet, please????
  • This is how it went until two laps to go. There, I just spared you about 30 plus mins of race coverage. See, Tivo, good stuff.

With two laps to go, it was time to make the move. So, I rode up to my new AV friend Sam M, who still looked very strong, and said "let's go, I'll try to give you a lead out." He instantly agreed, and off we went.

Think John Wayne rallying the other cowboys (with the bugle player in the background ) to fight whoever they fought in his movies. My call to action was no where near as dramatic, inspiring, or as I would later discover, successful. Hollywood lies, I know, I can't believe it either.

We went off the front, and stayed out there until the 2nd to the last turn on the last lap. Being off the front of a race on the last lap is great, :-). I wish I could sugar coat the experience, and make it a Disney inspired musical number, but that would be a flat out lie. It hurts like hell :-(, is not very fun and makes you want to take up badminton. I swear to God, the course actually stretches out and getx longer. I kid you not, :-(. Unless you cross the line first, then it is all definitely worth it, :-), (MTB race last year, very cool, no one asked for my autograph though. I did get an extra event t-shirt for my wife because of the win, so that was cool.).

On the straightaway before the 2nd to last turn, my brain experienced :-) when I thought "holy beep, I could win this thing, (think Borat) "Very Nice...." But, unfortunately my legs were starting to go into meltdown mode :-(, and it ended up being a very short lived celebration. The field swallowed me up, and attempted to spit me out the back by the last turn. This made Alberto very sad, >:-(. And you know what, not one guy thanked me on the way by for softening up the pack. Weak, very much >:-(. But, Sam caught on to the chasers for the home stretch run, so that softened the blow.

On the last turn, I was forced to fight for a top 15, and had to do my best Texas Two Step to barely avoid three fellas who unfortunately lost a fight with physics going down violently, :-(. They all looked ok after the race, so that was good, :-).

I tried to turn the juice on one more time to sprint for whatever pittance was left, but there was nothing in the legs, >:-(. I looked back, saw no one was behind me :-), so I sat up and coasted across the line. BUT Sam finished in 8th place, so my suffering was for not, :-). This was definitely the best race yet, and I'm looking forward to the next one. Which unfortunately is two weeks away, >:-(.

So, after the race I'm a wee bit famished :-(, so we head over to Denny's for some gourmet breakfast delectable to recharge the tank, :-). First of all, we walk in the joint, I survey my surroundings, and, well it looks like Denny's isn't a place where people who ride bikes and regularly wear tight spandex ensembles choose to spend their time.

As I'm perusing the menu, I'm looking for something that won't require the old defibrillator when I'm done eating. I decide on fruit, a toasted bagel and oatmeal.

When I tell the waiter what I want, we get to the oatmeal part of dance and he looks at me with: 1) "Honestly, you're at Denny's and you want oatmeal? Really? Oatmeal. You know where you are, right?" 2) "I don't believe you. We don't have oatmeal on the menu." 3)" Hmm, we DO have oatmeal on the menu. Wow, you learn something new everyday, who wouldda thought. Oatmeal, here, Denny's."

Priceless. I had to literally point out to him touching the laminated razor sharp menu (you could kill someone with one of these things, a paper cut is a walk in the park compared to the potential carnage one of these menus can cause) that oatmeal does in fact exist on it, and that it can in fact be ordered for human consumption. Oh yeah, Jill had some potato and egg flavored grease thing. I swear I saw it move. Poor girl got an ache in her tum, :-(.

So my breakfast comes out in shifts. Apparently the bagel was the appetizer, the fruit the main course, and the oatmeal rare and endangered because it never came. That would explain the thunderous chorus of laughter I heard from the kitchen staff upon receiving our order.

"OATMEAL???? REALLY? HE KNOWS WHERE HE IS, RIGHT?"

Ok, that didn't really happen, but it does move the story along nicely, admit it. I ordered it no less than THRICE: every time the guy filled the water, when he asked how everything was, and the original order. He acknowledged me each time in a way as if to imply that it was I, not he, who was missing the finer points of eating breakfast at Denny's. But alas, no warm oatmeal goodness made it down the hatch, or onto the bill for that matter. So there was redemption.

Especially when I paid the bill and came across Jo the cash register gal. She reminded me of Jill's grandmother who is awesome. Jo looked like she will bake you a killer plate of piping hot chocolate chip cookies (the soft ones, not the kind that disintegrate after your first bite) on a cold day, fix you up some hot cocoa complete with the little marshmallows and tuck you in with your favorite blanket on the couch so you can watch your favorite cartoons. I mean monster truck pulls and people killing small woodland creatures.

Well, there you have it, my EMC crit experience. It is now 3:17pm, and my wife likes me again.

My name's Al, I'll be here all week, ride home safely........

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