Sunday, May 21, 2006

neshaminy soigneur's report

dave, mike, jay, and i drove out to neshaminy to represent rutgers at today's mass race. with a still-injured hand and sans-mtb, i was going along to play soigneur again. the three racers would all compete in the Sport 1 race, with 35 starters.

everyone's race prep was different. dave had enough bananas in his bag to feed a small zoo and spent a lot of time doing some pretty impressive trials-esque tricks. mike planned out his in-race nutrition, then ate a couple of sodium tablets they were giving out at registration, because "this way i'd have an excuse if the race didn't go well". jay, whose bike had v-brakes, spent a while debating whether run a disc-specific wheel in front would be more likely to crash him than his cracked, ready-to-fail v-brake specific wheel.

it's pretty cool to watch the start of a race if you're not in it. everyone is talking and joking, but as the start approaches, everyone's game face goes on. it was a very sudden and dramatic change, and these guys looked like badasses. despite flawless clip-ins, all three rutgers racers took the start easy, planning to save their matches for the singletrack.

as a soigneur, i was worthless during the race. dave, wearing a camelback, wouldn't need me to pass him any bottles, although his blocked legs forced him out of the race after about a lap. neither mike nor jay needed either of the bottles they'd given me - they seemed delighted to have the bottles after the race, though.

with a six-pack at stake, the battle between jay and mike heated up. after two laps, jay had about 2 minutes on mike. even as they pushed hard, they were able to respond to cheering, and threats, from teammates.

jay held his gap over mike, and even managed a late surge to pass three other riders in the last 200m. mike finished strong as well (although i think he was pissed that we lied "they're about to catch you!" with 50m left), leaving everything out on the trail. it was a technical, demanding course that sapped all riders, and their strong finishes (15th and 21st, respectively) are all the more impressive.

mike then dominated the schwag toss, towering over the crowd of junior racers to catch a saddle, gloves, and bottle cages. i think he made one of them cry.

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