Thursday, October 20, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Our product manager, Ryan, spent the last year racing on the road professionally in Europe. After a long off-season and a big transition into the working world he finally kitted up and pinned on a number again. Ryan took the Williamsmobile up to the Wednesday night Folsom Rodeo Cross and he has this report:

Oh baby! I've been off the bike for almost two months now enjoying life's finer pleasures. It's the little things like having the arm strength to go surfing, training my legs with dance marathons instead of riding, and powering through bacon themed meals. Yes, life has been good, but I can't fight it, I'm addicted to the bike. And it's time to relapse.

So even though I've only done one real ride since I got back from England I decided to kit up and tackle one of the famed Folsom Rodeo Cross races. Alas, I was woefully unprepared. I hadn't touched my rig since I raced in Portland last December and it was rusted and crusted so badly it was almost impossible to tell that it was a bicycle. But one of the perks of working for a cycling company is that we have a professional mechanic in house. Booyah!
Dr. J. stripped down my bike so far it would make an exotic dancer blush, cleaned and lubed it top to bottom and then returned it to it's original, shimmering glory. Plus, my Banshee got a set of brand new Williams Cyclocross Tubulars with some sweet new tires to complete the look.
So we packed up the rig and headed north through the Central Valley, picking up cycling misfits along the way. First stop was to collect Bobby T., the 14 year old prodigy that Josh is mentoring. The only thing faster than his riding is his mouth. Robert is roughly half my size and every bit as fast, so if you crunch the numbers that makes him twice as cool as I am. Curses.
Stop number two was to nab Chris "The Staz" Stastny, aka the "Czech Dream". Chris is a total crusher who races for the famed Cal Giant squad, and I don't want to give away the ending, but he used his Tour of China fitness to humiliate the Men's Asfield. 

The true question of the night was not who would win the Men's A race, but who would triumph in the Bobby T./Parnes battle royale. We both had the benefit of a professional pit crew (love ya, Joshy), and we were both rocking Williams Cyclocross wheels. But while Bobby T. is faster and more technically adept, he has to take about 8 steps in between barriers where I only need one, graceful leap. It would prove to be a tight race.
At this point I have to say a few words about Folsom Rodeo Cyclocross. These guys do an amazing job of putting on a fun, low key event that is laid back enough that anyone can come try a race, but well organized enough to attract serious racers. Plus, the course was probably the coolest I've ever raced. It combined gravel pits, pitch black barriers and the sweetest, technical singletrack chaos you've ever seen, all twisting through a forest. At night. Awesome! Toss in some costumed superheroes and a raucous crowd and you have the perfect evening of cyclocross.
 In the end I managed to eek one out over Bobby T., mostly because some huge guy crashed him out hard, to the accompanying shouts of "DUDE! You just crashed out a junior!!" Plus, I may be out of shape, but switching over to those Cyclocross Tubulars made a HUGE difference in my technical skills. I'm usually your typical roady when I race cross: foot down going about 4MPH through the turns. Not last night. I felt like I was glued to the ground, so even though I was so cracked I could barely pedal I could hold every ounce of my paltry speed through the corners.

Chris won, I fauxdiumed, Bobby T. hung tough with guys twice his age and size, and Dr. J got free beer and handed up the entire contents of my wallet to excited racers. Top that off with a burrito stop on the way home and you have darn near the best night ever.

I know where I'll be next Wednesday night, and if you live within two hours of Folsom you should be there too. And with any luck we'll drag the boss out there next week and then we'll really have some good material for this blog!