ECV Time Trial, Team Twenty-Three, Rick Sladkey, 7-12
This is our race report for “Team Twenty-Three”, four NEBC riders
who ride the CBTT in under 23 minutes, and who competed together
in ECV Team Time Trial. Our team consisted of:
Ed Kross – The Veteran
Kyle Welch – The Green Jersey
Scott Brooks – The Wild Card
Rick Sladkey – Head Cook and Bottle Washer
Organizing specific teams rather than just seeing who shows up
to a race turned out to be remarkably complicated. But in the
end it turned out well because we ended up with two full
and reasonably compatible teams.
Out of our team, I had raced the 11 mile course solo twice, Ed
had ridden it solo in training, and Kyle and I had practiced the
20 mile course together. But fate and inertia conspired to
prevent us from getting any more serious practice together as
the team and in retrospect it would have helped.
On the day of the race it began to rain at noon and Scott
was skeptical about the forecasted conditions but I insisted
it would be “no big deal” and that we would make the final
decision to race after registration. After arriving, paying
his eight bucks, and seeing two other teammates (the minimum
team being three), Ed said “Oh crap, now I have to race.”
Ed was the only one on our team who had every participated in
a team time trail before so we looked to him for leadership
and he gave us advice and formulated a plan. Kyle was
our Green Jersey man because he was literally wearing a
green jersey. Scott Brooks was our unknown quantity having
been a last minute substitution. My job was simple: pep squad,
conflict resolution, registration expediting, rules maven,
and human cue sheet.
Before the start the last thing I remember Ed saying was that
we should “start conservatively” until we got comfortable with
the conditions, the transitions and our rotation. However
what seemed like a harmless sprinkle during the warmup (well,
whatever warmup we could each manage) immediately turned into
a very nervous paceline at 29 mph for the first 1 1/2 miles
on the narrow shoulder of a downhill false flat with rooster
tails of water spraying in our faces.
Once the course leveled out and as soon as it went uphill it
became clear that Scott was our pocket rocket, a power house
capable of taking monster turns and our task was to figure
out how to contain and utilize that energy to our advantage
without frying the rest of the team.
After fifteen minutes I was already in the danger zone and
about to get dropped but with some quick on-the-road discussion
we developed plan B, which was shorter turns for me until
I recovered and longer turns for Scott instead of harder.
Luckily, Scott seemed to be at the front for all the steep
stuff and we all hung on for dear life, taming the wild
beast as necessary to keep the team together. Communication,
Meanwhile the rain was increasing in intensity, the spray was
like a jet in your face, and the visibility was near zero.
Then the disaster: the pot holes on Rt 22 proved too numerous
and one leapt up and ate Scott’s rear wheel with a KA-THUMP.
He yelled “I’m out!” and pulled aside and the three of us
continued. Then there was the stopped police car in the middle
of the road complete with flashing lights. But we did the
best we could to navigate the course and continue.
But wait, the miracle: suddenly Scott arrives from behind, Ed
shouts “We’re four!”, and we were back in business again. Scott
had damaged his wheel but not flatted (a testament to tubulars)
and so he flipped open his brakes, hopped back on the bike,
and incredibly, CHASED BACK ON.
This was still not the final plot twist because on Rt 133 for
the second time the sky blackened and torrential rain began
pouring out of it. However, by this point we were all
pumped up by “race courage” (aka adrenaline and oxygen debt)
and fearlessly drafted in the parting seas with hands on
the aerobars out of reach from the brakes. Kyle was amused
when I shouted “River!” as we crossed a flooded road at
top speed. But Scott, who did a disproportionate share of the
pulling on the second lap, brought us home safely.
We finished the 20 miles in 46 minutes flat or about 26 mph.
Given the conditions, we’re pretty happy with that…