Thursday, June 11, 2015

Race Report: ERock Sunrise to Sunset

I talk a lot about my own races here on my blog (as one would expect), but me racing personally is only one outlet in the cycling community that gives me joy.  For the last three years it has been my pleasure to be the team manager of an elite mountain biking team here in Golden, CO.  With the name derived from our great title sponsor and reason we exist, Pedal Pushers Cyclery, Pedal Pushers Racing (PPR) was formed.  The shop has had many race teams prior to PPR, but none took it to the level we have taken it.  We went from zero sponsors to having some of the most prestigious in the biking industry in a short time span.  With the help of many others, I have worked very hard to make this happen.  I am honored to have a team of talented, down to earth athletes who never asked for sponsorship, but I felt so strongly that they deserved it that I just had to make it happen.  I couldn't have done it without a lot help: my friend Eric Coomer being one of the biggest influences.  In short, when one of my racers does well at a race, it feels like more of a victory to me than if it was me on the podium.  This past weekend, three of my racers were on the podium as a team... that is, three of my racers AND me.

ERock Sunset to Sunrise is an eleven hour race that can be done solo or as a team.  Many of us on the PPR squad decided that it would the perfect opportunity to race together and just have fun.  We formed one four-person coed and two five-person coed teams.  My team consisted of me, Mark Wallace, Wes Felteau, and Ann Felteau.  With a new race venue for 2015, none of us knew what to expect.  The course was only six miles and around 600 feet of climbing, but very tight and twisty with a lot of punchy climbs.

We started out fast!  All of us had lap times close to 30 minutes.  With such short laps, we went full throttle all the way.  After we each did a lap, we checked the results to find out we were sitting in first place, but not by very much.

We soon learned the four-person and five-person coeds were all lumped together into one category.  Our competition had five people plus an 18 year old up and coming pro woman racer. We were definitely the under dogs.  Knowing the competition was fierce only fueled our fire.  Each of us put down faster and faster lap times.  Mark and I were breaking 30 minutes, while Wes and Ann were cutting minutes from their times.  

During my fourth lap it started to rain.  It went from light, to heavy, to hail, to becoming sunny again all in my 31 minute lap.  The rain was actually to my advantage, since I had just done the Pigsah 111k that was nothing but wet terrain.  So, I was well acclimated.  At the end of the lap, I discovered the race was delayed due to the weather.  The race was to be restarted in a mass start format with the same time gaps we had when I finished my lap.  Although we should had a 3 minute gap, the race staff made an error on the timing and refused to fix it because it was a "recreational" event.

Now we only had a five second gap with only five more laps to go for the win.  Luckily, with the rain delay we all had aqueduct rest so we were able to form the fastest racing order.  Ann made a tough choice and sacrificed for the team by letting me, Mark, and Wes finish out the race.

Mark started the mass race restart and hung onto our five seconds.  Wes threw down a great lap after that to keep us in the game.  I was able to put a little bit more time in our corner on my lap.  We were then down to our last one-two punch of Mark and then me again since we all agreed I could probably pull the fastest finishing lap.  Mark made a good jab on the competition with a one minute gain on his lap, and it was up to me to make the finishing blow.

I was enraged by the unprofessional way the race crew handle the timing mistake.  I wanted my f@$*ing three minutes back, and damnit I was going to get it!  Fueled by my rage, I pushed myself to my boundaries.  I worked the climbs, finessed the turns, and plowed the downhills.  After a blazing sprint to the finish I was met by an astounded team greeting complete with high fives.  They had to run to the finish to beat me there because they didn't expect me to come in so soon.  I got my three minutes back between the two laps I did after the rain delay, and we took the win!

Getting my three minutes back!

It was the best win I have ever had in my life!  Not because I raced so hard, but because I was able to contribute to my team winning.  Had it just been myself, it wouldn't have felt nearly as good.  To see my team mates work so hard, and to help them in the fight to win fills me with a joy I can't put into words.  Being able to help my team succeed either on the race course or by getting them sponsorship is why being a team manager fills me with so much happiness.  To make the day even better, our other five-person coed team placed sixth!  Our third team all riding Transition Klunkers did a great job racing as well and were the best cheering section ever!  Damn, I love my team!  Go PPR!

From left to right: Me, Mark Wallace, Wes Feltau, Ann Felteau