Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Lowell 50: lost and found! (part 1)

Welcome to my blog! It's my first ever blog. My excuse is that my narcissism wasn't quite developed enough. But I'm there now!

I suspect this blog will be about my interests/hobbies that I'm most consumed by. These days, that would be cycling. But I'm sure I'll babble about triathlon, food, music, pop culture, and other random things!

Today, allow me to regale you with the tale of my first ever bike race that I did yesterday: The Lowell 50!

The Lowell 50 is a dirt/gravel road race. You know, those roads on the outskirts of town. The way it was routed, the course was reported to be 70% dirt roads and 30% pavement. I'm not sure anymore how I first learned of this race. It might have been my friend Joe? Or was it Dan? No clue. But as the race approached, we all signed up: me, my wife Kendal, Joe, Dan, and Dan's co-worker Charles.

There were two distance options. You could either do the 50 mile race or the 28 mile race. All of us except Joe opted for the 28 mile race on account of our total lack of fitness. To wit, neither Kendal or I have done much of anything besides watching Glee (Kendal) or Futurama (me) on Netflix since August! Joe was much braver/dumber/fitter (pick two) than the rest of us!

Before we get to the race, let me outline in detail how Kendal and I prepared for the race:


  1. Stop working out completely
  2. Start a strict fast food diet regimen
  3. Panic 7 days before the race and start training
  4. Get on the trainer planning to spin for 2 hours, quit after 24 minutes
  5. Avoid having EVER ridden on anything but pavement (me)
  6. Make sure you have only experienced warm weather riding
  7. Purchase all your cold weather riding gear 5 days prior to race and never test them out
  8. Build up both cyclocross bikes 2 nights before the race, and neglect trying them out either
  9. Choose to use big fat knobby tires when most people recommend file tread tires for extra speed
How could anything possibly go wrong?

So, with absolute confidence that we were well prepared, I got all our gear ready the night before while Kendal relaxed. All we had to do when we woke up was shower, get dressed, grab our pre-made PBJ sandwiches, load our bikes on the rack and drive!

The raced started at 10am. We decided to head out at 7am and planned to arrive by 9am. Everything was going as scheduled. Kendal brought a pillow to catch some extra sleep in the car. So, being the amazing husband that I am, I rode in silence so as not to disturb her. I ate a banana, PJB, and chocolate milk while driving. Pre-race fuel: check.

We arrived at Fallasburg County Park just a bit earlier than expected. I think around 8:45am. Soon after we arrived, we ran into Joe! He'd gotten there even earlier and was signed in and ready to go! Kendal and I walked over to get signed in, pick up our race numbers, and use the bathroom. For those of you that don't race...let me tell you. Racing is the most powerful laxative in the scientific world. Just before any race, your body will expel everything you ever ate, very rapidly. If you do not experience this...you're not ready to race. Racing without having done this will lead only to death! Suffice to say, I was very very prepared for The Lowell 50.

Back to the car. There, we put on the rest of our riding gear. We brought a lot of clothes. The forecast called for 39 degrees at race start and not much north of 41 degrees in the estimated two hours later at race finish. My car read 36 degrees. But the sun and physical exertion would make it feel much warmer. BUT the wind while riding at 15+ mph would make it feel colder! What to do? So we looked around to see what most of the other riders were wearing. We both went with our thermal bib tights, base layer, thermal jersey, shoe covers, small/thin head layer under helmet, and gloves. I went with the only gloves I had (Pearl Izumi Thermal) and Kendal used her summer riding gloves under a pair of Pearl Izumi Lobster gloves (her hands usually get very cold). Then we unloaded our bikes and joined Dan and his co-worker/friend Charles in the other parking lot by the race start.

It was still around 15-20 minutes before the start. The 50 mile riders take off first, followed by the 28 mile group. Total racer count was about 250...and it was a close to even split between 28 mile riders and 50 mile riders. Since we had a few minutes to kill, and since our bikes were built up right before the race, Kendal decided to find out if she knew how to clip in and out of her new Crank Bros Eggbeater pedals. She also needed to figure out if she could even shift with the lobster style gloves. I also got on my bike and tooled around the parking lot to see if our clothing choice would keep us warm enough. Hit 20mph on a empty part of the parking lot and felt ok, the wind was not whipping through me. 

We all started heading towards the start line. The race director was saying things undoubtedly important but I didn't hear anything. Then it was time for the 50 mile riders to start,

"Go! Rider down..."

I don't know if he was joking or not...but I choose to believe it was true. Because that's HILARIOUS! We all laughed at the prospect of a rider falling 0.1 seconds after the start of the race...because we're all caring, loving people. Then I wished Joe good luck on his race and he was off!

The remaining four of us started to position ourselves for the 28 mile start. Charles is apparently a very fast rider and positioned himself up front. Kendal, Dan and I put ourselves pretty much at the very back. There were literally 8 people behind us. Kendal's plan was to be the last person to cross the start line because she really did not plan on pushing hard and she didn't want to be anywhere near a crowd where she could run into someone or someone could run into her.

Race and adventurous conclusion to follow! Stay tuned!


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