Three-alarm potholes can’t curtail quest for coveted T-shirt
[EDITOR's NOTE: OBRA Cat 2 Masters rider Karsten Hagen (West End Bikes) is racing in the Tucson Bicycle Classic this week in Arizona. He sent Cycling Action this rider blog from the stage 3 circuit race. ]
By Karsten Hagen
TUCSON — I don’t know what Tucson spends its tax dollars on. I am sure It’s not on maintaining its streets! Today’s circuit race had me attempting to twist, turn and otherwise finagle my huge body over some of the worst roads I’ve ever raced over.
Not that that’s a problem! I love a challenge. This circuit is 7 laps beneath, between and behind the local community college. At 6:30 AM, it was almost cold enough to be an Oregon race, but dark enough to be a 24 hour race. There was literally a point when I slapped myself to wake up during the first lap.
The truth is, I really didn’t want to be there. Two hours previous to this, I was asleep. Very asleep. Awakened by 3 simultaneous alarm clocks, I questioned just why it is I continue to do this damned sport after almost 30 years as I pulled on my bib shorts in the dark. True, I could be fat, obsessed by football and subsist on fried things. But at 4am on a perfectly good Sunday, that option sounds just fine.
Once we were rolling the cobwebs parted to reveal James Cramer, a fellow Oregonian who spends his summers in Bend. He gave me the day’s tactical lowdown and it pretty much proved true. I don’t know anyone down here, but the teams all pretty much follow the same routines. Red team sprints, blue team attacks and orange and green team rides tempo. It’s been like that for two days. We did have a brush with mortality when we caught the pro women on a twisty two lane downhill and managed to pass them and avoid many oncoming cars at the same time.
By the third lap, I just wanted to sit in and maintain 4th on GC. There were lots of silly attacks, but I was more interested in watching the sun come up over Mt. Lemmon. We climbed, descended, cornered and jumped like a school of minnows in a mindless routine. But I’ve got to admit, things were pretty fast. Masters racing down here is fast this time of year.
But then after two guys from the blue team got out and stuck for the time bonus, something interesting happened. Another blue guy got out and stayed out. He annoyed me like a leaky faucet. He gained a little bit of ground every mile or so, and nobody seemed to care. Three days of racing and these guys were all ready to go home, like me.
But I can’t stand it when someone makes a smart move and I’m not there. I’m Horshack on Welcome Back Kotter. “Oh! Oh! There’s a break! There’s a break! And it’s working! Oh, Oh!”.
Finally the lonely yellow jersey got things going and I joined him along with another blue dude. We caught the irritating break guy with one lap to go and kept a steady, desperate rhythm over the climb and descent. We had 20 seconds on the field going into the final kilometer. A red team guy bridged up — he was nowhere on GC and it was clear he wanted the stage. This was fine with me because he stole precious time bonus seconds from everyone ahead of me. I led him (and everyone else) out to keep the field at bay and crossed the line in 5th. The field came in 5 seconds later. This was enough to move me into 2nd in GC and win the coveted Tucson Bicycle Classic T-shirt. Yay!
- “Tall Saguaros, mutants swarms & early morning supermoon”, March 20, Oregon.CyclingAction.com
- “Battling the cloven hoofed devils in the Arizona desert”, March 19, Oregon.CyclingAction.com