It’s that simple. It’s that clear. As evident as gravity—you go in full retard, you go home empty handed.
Well, I did it. I went full retard with $20,000 on the line. And I came home...
For years, I’ve dreamt of returning to l'Abitibi. The smell of burning flesh and melting carbon, the sound of cracking Zipps and screaming Frenchmen is seared into my mind. The memories are painful, but they drip with a blood sweeter than any known nectar.
But memories fade. And as they fade, I die. I am an addict. I need my year fix.
So Race the Lake (RtL) became my high—a substitute for my l'Abitibi lust. But they are two very different drugs. l’Abitibi is a UCI stage race. RtL is an unsanctioned citizen race. l'Abitibi has the world’s best junior cyclists. RtL has the world's worst tri-tards and recreational cyclists.
Despite their difference, they share two things in coming: Speed and insanity.
In bike racing, you receive a bib number to race with. In triathlon, your body is marked with black marker. Tri-tards are notoriously poor bike handlers and crash with frightening regularity. Despite the slow speeds of their crashes, limbs are often lost or mutilated. Because of body markings, medical can piece together the bodies post race.
I am a bike racer. But at RtL, we are all wankers. So I surrendered my dignity and was body marked.
In the moment, there is too much happening to enjoy anything. Each idiot and every wanktastic happening drips over into the next. Through the fog of walkability, individual idiots are nearly impossible to discern.
At RtL, this concept is magnified. Tri-tards running into cones and flipping over. Wankers breaking away in the last meters only to take a wrong turn and forfeit large sums of money. Carbon wheels exploding. Behind the seat bottles ejecting.
While Kenda and Aerocat were menacing, we had our hopes. Josh (IsCorp) can sprint with the best and Brian Rach (IsCorp) can steamroll anyone. As we rolled out of town, we situated ourselves at the front. Brian led Josh, and I followed—ready to surrender a wheel, bottle or bar.
Quickly, I found myself near The Man Who is Fall (Steve Tilford). Riding his wheel was an experience–so smooth, so sad and so right. At 32 mph we cruised. Occasionally, he would tell me a story. Not a word was spoken without smile.
Occasionally, a recumbent would come past and crash. Or a tandem would shoot up and veer into the wrong lane of traffic. But we continued at our pace until the halfway point and the start of the "big hill".
Readers of my blog know this—I really dislike racing hills. Well, we hit the climb and the only thing I can think about is my eight bottles weighing me down. Until the false flat, I stay on. But as the road tips up for the final crest, I lose ground.
But a descent looms. With a small group or riders, I manage to latch back on. Crisis averted, I go to Josh and quickly give him a bottle.
Trying to organize a train at the front of a 1400 man strong race is insane. It’s even crazier when half the team is on one side of the road and the other half is missing. With a break up the road, we needed to organize. But time began slipping, and there was nothing we could do. Coming into the finish, Brach managed to up the pace and Josh was given a small lead-out. Flying into the finish, he takes second in the field sprint.
Pro Wanker: Thompson Remo (IsCorp) rides up to me in the closing miles. “Scott, do you have any food I can eat?” Before he even finishes the sentence, he begins to crack a smile. No duh, I have food.
Wanker: You’re 40+ and you have a hairy ass. For some reason, you wear shorts that explode on you. For 90 miles, people have to stare at your hairy ass.
Pro Wanker: We’re racing at 30 mph. Some wanker on a moto pulls up next to me and starts honking. For a moment, I am dumbstruck. Then I realize: This is Swamp Monster. And the chick on the back—it doesn’t even matter who she is. It’s just perfect.
Wanker: The wind is coming from the right. On open roads, we move into the left lane. Oncoming traffic is forced to drive in the wrong lane.
Pro Wanker: An Aerocat rider throws his timing chip across the line in the sprint.
Wanker: Heagney rides with tri-up-the-ass-spokes and a camelback.
Pro Wanker: You break away and are sitting in 5th place coming into the final Ks. You take a wrong turn and disappear in shame.
Wanker: You are a triathlete. Surprisingly, you don’t brake after the finish and ram into the guard rails.
Pro Wanker: You’re not parked in the race lot. Your lot is barricaded and swarming with finishing riders. You need to leave. You take down the fencing and drive your sedan on the sidewalk. Yep. That was me.
Wanker: You ride a tri bike, wear compression socks and an aero helmet, use race wheels and finish at 13mph average.
Pro Wanker: Your longest ride of the year has been 2:30 at active recovery pace. Your saddle is broken. You are riding super fragile Mavic Carboners with carbon spokes. Your race is over three hours long at a high pace and requires durable equipment. Yep. That was me.
Wanker: You wake up at 3:45 am to race.
Pro Wanker: You eat chocolate chip and banana pancakes for breakfast at 3:45 am. (Me again.)
Wanker: You are riding next to Spider Monkey. You blurt out, “I’m too old for this shit.” He says, “You’re too smart for this shit.” The Man Who is Fall turns his head and laughs.