Sweet sassy goodness. That was quite a ride.
The opening salvo of this year's Rutgers World Championship competition was fired this morning, and boy oh boy was it loud. Charlie, Will C, Ted, Chris R, and I met at Brower, rolling out slowly in anticipation of some hurting.
The details of the competition were, briefly, that there were 4 sprints, 3 of which were at the top of climbs. Points were awarded as 5 for 1st, 4 for 2nd, etc. We went around my favorite hill course (see map). We were laughing, cracking jokes, in some cases singing, all the way down to Bound Brook.
At the first climb, up Washington Road, everyone shut up. A hung-over Chaz moved to the front and set a hard pace. As far as I can tell, he never attacked, he just shed riders off his wheel like candy bar wrappers (don't worry, we didn't litter). Will held on the longest, finishing second ahead of a 3-up sprint for 3rd.
Sprint #1: Washington Rd... Charlie 5, Will 4, Don 3, Chris 2, Ted 1
We cruised over to Mt. Horeb road, at a "recovery pace". Maybe I was hallucinating, but I thought I saw a 4 year old on a big-wheel pass us, shouting "on your left!" in his little high-pitched voice. On the false-flat at the bottom of the climb, everyone was still looking at each other, and this conservative riding continued until halfway up the steep part. Impatient as ever, I put in an attack, only to have Charlie come around me like I was standing still. With Will surging hard at the end, I managed to hang on for second, even though I was distracted by the pretty stars fluttering in front of my eyes.
Sprint #2: Mt. Horeb Rd.... Charlie 10, Will 7, Don 7, Chris 4, Ted 2
After a short descent, the most tactically interesting part of the day began. The mostly-flat 5k of Mt. Horeb Rd gave us the perfect terrain on which to duke out a flat sprint. However, we were all in pain at this point, and all we could do was hold a paceline. Then Ted cramped, having missed his morning donut fueling regimen, and Charlie flatted. They waved us on, and Will put in a vicious attack, which I just barely managed to cover. I countered, but he latched on, then moved to the front to keep a gap between us and a resurgent Chris. I put in one last attack, but it was of no use, and Will held on to my wheel through the end of the sprint. (note: for safety's sake, this sprint was neutralized, such that Will and I both received points for 1st place, Chris got 3rd place, and Chaz and Ted both got 4th).
Sprint #3: Mt. Horeb Rd, flats... Charlie 12, Will 12, Don 12, Chris 7, Ted 4
Now things were interesting. With a 3-way tie for 1st (certainly, though, due to Charlie's flat tire) and a big-ring climb ahead of us, something epic was sure to transpire on Morning Glory rd. Chris moved to the front and set a withering pace, with Charlie, Will, and myself all fighting for his wheel. Towards the top, Charlie accelerated sharply, and only Will could follow... but neither of them had either done this climb before!!! They were fooled by a false flat towards the top into believing they'd finished. In all fairness, I shouted at them to keep riding, and even waved them on, but it was to no avail. Chris pulled me up to Will's wheel, after which I attacked them, almost (but not quite) catching Charlie before the summit.
Sprint #4: Morning Glory Rd... Charlie 17, Don 16, Will 14, Chris 10, Ted 5
It could be argued that Will should've been awarded 2nd for that sprint... however, I've decided to be completely selfish and rule this ride with an iron fist. So, at the end of the day, Charlie will be wearing the Rutgers WC jersey, at least until next week.
We were all looking forward to an easy ride back to campus, but then Will had the brilliant idea that we team-time-trial back. We did. It hurt. I think I died a little inside. Thanks, Will.
Once in Johnson Park, Charlie's cruel streak was exposed. He proposed one final sprint, from the Rt 18 underpass to the "stinky sewage pipe". I don't even know what happened, my peripheral vision was going. I think I found myself in first wheel, attacked desperately, then dropped back, as Will sprinted up on the right to take the sprint.
In conclusion, there's probably something wrong with us. We were all hurting, and bad... yet we were laughing, singing, and generally enjoying ourselves for way too much of the ride. As we rode through Busch campus, Will, Chris, and I had stupid grins on our faces and were talking about how much fun that was. We should be put away in rubber rooms.
Next week, the Rutgers WC competition (aka Bleed-from-your-Eyes Rides) will continue, with a Thursday morning ITT through Johnson Park. Anyone, with any bike, is welcome.