Thursday, September 20, 2007

Intramural Team Champions!

One of the fringe benefits of working at the University is the opportunity to participate in the Intramural Bike Race each year. A race I had won for five years in a row until last year an upstart, Alex Baldwin, beat me by seven seconds. So, when you lose to somebody who is in even better shape this year, has completed an Ironman Triathlon, and you know you have no chance to beat, what do you do? That's right, you make him a teammate and recapture the team title at least!

Once we confirmed Alex would be part of our team we started scheming about tactics for the race. Joe Parlett and Craig DeVelder were to round out our team with the top three times counting for the overall team title. The scheme was on. Alex and I were going to break out early and see who was willing to follow. Joe and Craig were going to "suck wheel" of the second place team and pull as little as possible, and when they did pull, they were to even possibly slow the pace down allowing Alex and I break away even further.

The plan worked even better than expected. I sat behind two riders from the other team for about a 1/4 mile and Alex went flying by on the outside. I was somewhat boxed in, but I broke between the two riders and absolutely hammered on the cranks pushing 30mph for about a 1/3 of a mile blowing by Alex and catching him a little off guard. Alex pulled up beside me and told me we had a gap and asked what should we do? I answered with two words "Let's go!" From there on, it was Alex and I pushing a pretty hard pace continuing to open up on the pack of five behind us (which included Joe). I'm sure at any point Alex could have dusted me, but we worked great together taking quick hard pulls out front for each other.

In this 14 mile race, about 6 of it was on a new, slow and thick seal coat. It is a horrible surface and does slow you down considerably (for any of you who rode the 30 mile loop on the Margarita Ride, you know what I'm talking about!). We were still able to hold a great pace to the turnaround point. Once we turned around we were cranking into about a 10mph wind, but we were still hammering away, taking turns pulling. When we went by the group behind us, Alex said it was :38 seconds since we turned around. I was a little concerned since they had more drafting help than we did, but it was time to lay it all on the line as we pushed forward.

As we climbed the last major incline, which was also the end of the nasty section of road, I was starting to feel the pace. Alex cleared me by 4-5 seconds by the top of the hill. He looked back, waited, and we took off hard once I caught up. I knew that I was quickly running out of steam though. The pace we were on was very hard and I wasn't sure about my ability to hold it. I pulled one more time to give Alex a breather and then he took back over. It was all I could do to hug his wheel. Alex actually asked for shelter and I tried to get back up front, but he was faster in front than I was trying to catch him. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told him to get me to the top of the last incline (which would leave a little over a mile to go) and then take off. He led out and I hugged his wheel as tight as I could until the top and then I shouted "Go Alex Go"....and he did. Alex destroyed the last mile beating me by a full :17 seconds.

Now the waiting game to see how everybody else would come in. As they rounded the last curve, the five were now three and I didn't see Joe in the pack and I was worried. Then, out of nowhere, a biker swerved to the left and started hammering. It was Joe! One of the other team darted in front of him to block, which actually allowed Joe to draft to the finish. At that point Joe didn't really care as the difference between 3rd and 4th meant nothing because we had the team title wrapped up at that point. It was definitely one of the most competitive races that we have ran and it was a good feeling for the "old guys" (and Alex...our resident youngin') to pull off.

The Stats for the top three teammates on the 14 mile course:
Alex Baldwin 34:09 24.597mph average - 1st Place
Kevin Brady 34:26 24.395mph average - 2nd Place
Joe Parlett 37:15 22.550mph average - 4th Place (1 second off third)

Average Team Times:
Us: 35:17
Them: 37:40
Them #2: 40:14

Mile by mile stats from my Garmin Forerunner 301:

MileMile SplitAve. SpeedMax Speed

It should also be mentioned that there are no real "bad guys" in this race. For the most part we all ride together at different rides throughout the year, with most of us all on the same MS150 team. It was a friendly least I think so. We lost to them last year and there were no hard feelings. It may have made us work harder for it this year, but that's about it.

Some of our Lanehogs/Team Road Kill Women rode the race and handily took the team title with Kirsten G. finishing 8th overall (out of 16 in the race). Congrats to Cathy L., Kirsten G., Barbara Y., and Erin S. on the victory on the Women's race!

On a personal note, this is probably the only time in my life I'll get to race with Alex as a teammate, but I'll be surprised if we don't see his name atop the leader board at many Ironman's to come. I know that I'll be watching for him and saying, "I lost to him twice proudly in an Intramural Bike Race". The cool thing is, he's not just a great racer, but a great guy too. I'll miss seeing you around Alex, but I'll be following your career in racing!


Anonymous said...

Go Team Irongut!

It was a blast racing with you, Joe, and Craig. I enjoyed the strategizing and the actual race was fantastic!

Thank you for the kind words, but you're selling yourself substantially short. We did a very balanced job in pulling. There is no way I could have gone that fast on that course in those conditions without some SUBSTANTIAL help! I'm glad we decided to work together this year.

Thanks again for letting me be a part of the team. Go Team Irongut!

Anonymous said...

Kev, that's a turn of speed for sure. Perhaps the Grocery Getter training program does in fact replace those demanding intervals after all.

Congratulations to you and your team. Sounds super fun.