Well, the Thursday Night Cyclocross Series here in Mid-Missouri has come and gone. I’m sad to see it end, but I’m glad to have had the opportunity to race locally instead of driving for several hours just to race for 40 minutes. Aaron Smith from the Respect the Ride Foundation put on a great series of CX races here in Jefferson City.
The series started back on Thursday, October 21st (back when there was still some daylight after 4:30 PM). Every Thursday thereafter, excluding Thanksgiving, the races took place up until December 2nd. I’m happy to say that I raced in every single one of them. Well, “race” might not be the right word, but I at least participated in every event. And if there is one thing I’m good at, it’s participation. I never placed highly in any of the races, but I only took last place once (I would have been last more but Bob let me beat him once and left early once). More importantly, I had an incredibly good time at every race and got to ride and “race” with good friends and good people.
Every week, more and more people came to race. We had racers from Columbia, Owensville, and even as far away as West Virginia (our friend Scott from Forum Dental Adventure Racing used to live in Rolla and happened to be in Jeff City on business one Thursday). After week 3, the courses changed every week which only added to the fun.
It was also after the third race that Barry Volmer (of Team Red Wheel fame) and I realized we were the only two that had made it to every race in the series up to that point. We had joked that the person who makes it to every race was going to win an SUV provided by Respect the Ride Foundation. I was definitely not going to beat Barry in any race, so the only thing I could possibly do better than Barry was show up to every race…
At the end of every race, I would tell Barry to make sure he missed the next race so I could win the SUV. He wouldn’t listen, though. He just kept showing up. I then posted on the Team Red Wheel Blog before the November 18th CX race:
“Barry, the race has been canceled tonight so don’t bother showing up. BTW, I’m coming for you!”
Now, that was meant to be a joke. I just assumed anyone that read it would know that I was just trying to mess with Barry so I could win the SUV. To me, it was an obvious joke.
Then Barry responded with:
“…Hey, and why wasn’t I notified of the cancellation? Hells Bells.”
I just assumed that Barry was joking around since he ended his comment with “Hells Bells.” I mean, who says “Hells Bells” anyway? Well, apparently he really thought the race was canceled and so did everyone else until our friend Stoney later posted that the race was still on. I felt really bad. It looked like I was really trying to trick Barry when that wasn’t my intent at all. But wait… It gets worse.
Our very own Bob Jenkins had made arrangements for someone to fill in for him at work so he could race. When he heard that the race “was canceled” he told his fill-in to forget about coming into work. So Bob could no longer race because of me. Man, I’m such a jerk! I felt horrible. What I thought was a harmless taunt towards Barry ended up ruining Bob’s night. My clever little “joke” made me more of a jackass than usual (if that’s possible).
I apologized to Bob several times, and I also posted an open apology to everyone on the Team Red Wheel site. Barry, being the fatherly (or is it grandfatherly?) kind of guy he is gave me these sage words of wisdom:
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, once we practice to deceive.”
Bob simply replied with this:
“It’s alright, I’m not mad. All I ask is that someone else take my place as glorious victor through turn 1.
In an email, I asked Bob for some advice on how to get the hole shot and take turn one. He replied with this:
“All you have to do is start on the front row, push off hard and spin like a madman. Wobble a little bit and people will slow down because they think you’re gonna wreck.”
Sure Bob. It’s just that easy, huh?
So, on the frigid evening of the 18th of November, 10 men and 3 women toed the line in the dark. My plan was to pedal harder than I’ve ever pedaled in my life. I didn’t care if my lungs exploded or my quads spontaneously burst into flames. I was going to do everything I could to take the first turn for Bob. It was highly unlikely I’d get it, but I was ready to hurt myself trying…
And that’s exactly what I did. The gun went off, and I flew off the line. A couple of guys were just a little quicker than me, so I mashed down on the pedals with even more fury. I passed one guy, and as I miraculously passed Christopher “the Champ” Bopp, I felt a shooting pain in my right adductors (aka – groin). My bid for the hole shot was over. I had failed, and I had let Bob down. But then… I remembered Bob’s words of wisdom.
I began wobbling side to side so vigorously that I thought I really was going to crash. Mud was flying, sweat was pouring, I was hurting. I continued to pedal as hard as I possibly could, and Chris actually backed off a little bit. It was just enough for me to take the first turn leading the pack. It worked! It sort of looked like this:
As I made the turn, I shouted at the top of my lungs, “That was for you, Bob! I can’t quit you!” Okay, I didn’t actually yell “I can’t quit you.” The rest of that is true, though.
After making it through turn one, I actually had to stop and get off my bike. Every single rider passed me. I almost turned around right there, but I would have felt like a bigger jackass for quitting a race that I ruined for Bob. So I just rode on slowly. My leg slowly started feeling a little better on the flats and downhills, but the uphills were terrible. I came in dead last, but I finished the race. I guess that’s what I get for trying to be funny. Karma can be a real female dog, if you know what I mean.
Anyway… That was the second to last race in the series. After that race, Barry Vollmer and Chris Bopp were actually tied for first place in the series standings with 540 points. Believe it or not, I was in 3rd place with 410 points (again, I’d like to point out that I was one of only two people to show up to every race).
The final race, on December 2nd, was going to be a showdown between Chris and Barry. Eleven men, including Bob this time, and two women showed up for the grand finale. I had no plans of going for the hole shot, and I’m not sure who got it. I wasn’t really feeling it for this race, and neither was Bob. We still rode hard (sort of), but we didn’t set any course records. As we came to the second to last climb, Bob got off his bike and walked. This is also known as the “Letting-Luke-Finish-Ahead-Of-Me-So-I-Don’t-Have-To-Smash-Him-If-He-Decides-To-Have-A-Sprint-Off-At-The-Finish-Line” maneuver.
As I was flying down the last descent, I heard a loud “PING” and then a lot of clanking. I looked down to see my rear derailleur flopping around wildly. Bummer. I hopped off my bike, and turned around. I didn’t see Bob, so it was pretty clear he wanted me to finish ahead of him. I would later learn, that he had turned his light off, and when he saw me stop, he actually hid in the trees until I moved on. What a guy.
As I carried my bike up the last climb, everyone was yelling for me to run. So, I sort of jogged/hobbled up the hill and crossed the finish line. I then learned that Chris came in second with Barry right behind him (Barry however raced the entire series on a single speed – yeah, he’s a badass).
So Chris won the series with 675 points, and Barry took second with 660 points. I maintained my third place standing in the series with 475 points. I’ll be the first to admit that my riding ability had nothing to do with taking 3rd in this series. It’s just amazing what simply showing up on a consistent basis will do. It was pretty cool to take third place even if it was by “just showing up.” But hey, I’ll take it. Others could have raced in every race and easily beaten me… But they didn’t.
It was nice to be rewarded with a third place finish, but that’ not all. No, no… There was no SUV for Barry and I to fight over. There was a prize for both of us, though, since we were the only ones to participate in every race. Aaron handed Barry and me each an envelope. Inside was $50.00 provided by Jefferson Bank. Huge thanks to Jefferson Bank for the prize money. This was amazing and very unexpected.
Barry and I also received a really cool photo of us from a previous CX race (well, I got a photo of me, and Barry got a photo of him). In the corner was written: “MVP – Most Valuable Participant – Lukas Lamb.” Now how cool is that? Another huge thanks to Aaron for the photo. Here, take a look:
There was some really nice swag handed out to the top three and then everyone else. The swag was donated by Red Wheel Bike Shop and The Hartsburg Cycle Depot, so another big thank you goes out to those guys.
Aaron and Respect the Ride did a superb job with this series, and I had a really great time at these races. It was nice to have cyclocross in our own backyard right here in Mid-Missouri. Aaron says he’ll do them again next year, and I know I’ll be there. He’s also planning some more events for the spring. Check back on this site or on his site for details in the future, and make sure you’re there. Seriously, you don’t want to miss these events. They’re close, they’re affordable, and they’re an absolute blast! I’ll let you know if they’re ever canceled, too, so don’t worry about that.
Until next time, mes amis… Au revoir.