Dr. Pain has a super power. He can race in two places at once. He can race Master’s Men then instantaneously blip over to the Gran Fondo ride in the blink of an eye. You have to watch closely. One minute he is flying downhill or nicely bridging my tired arse back up to the break. The next minute he mutters an obscene incantation, stops pedaling, then vanishes off the back. Sixty seconds later he’s back on my wheel muttering another incantation – except this time with my name included.
Listen closely and you hear “Arse-Dogg” or “Bitch-Dogg” or another phrase that infers my parents were never actually married. This phenomenon is more frequent when long hills, attacks or other rude but common in-race events force me to not reciprocate the favor.
To my face Dr. Pain, and often JOM, insist they only want kudos for the team at podium time since my category has much fewer participants. Dr. Pain flaunted his power for several hours last Saturday (August 19, 2017) at the Chain Buster Red Clay Ramble near Milledgeville Georgia. His power was greatly appreciated by his teammates.
Dr Pain’s efforts assisted our three-man team immensely and ended up earning Team GravelCyclist.com some nice podium spots, cool red clay trophy’s, new Maxxis tires and a clever “Hide Your Hiney” changing blanket (JOM has a sample he will be reviewing).
The course was relentlessly hilly but the terrain felt safe and non-technical. This year the course record fell, thanks to Dirty Kanza 200 place-getter, Michael Sencenbaugh. Most of the roads were delightfully shady. There was just enough pavement for us to stretch tired limbs and suck down much needed food and drink. A thousand thanks for all the angel volunteers suffering the heat to keep us hydrated and happy!
Not being particularly young (Did I mention I’m 62?) I’m not sure how the front of the race ended exactly but early on there was a large crash that split the field in two (heal well guys). After that a series of semi-organized chase groups and heroic solo attempts to regain the lead group, which mostly ended in flailure.* I personally managed to painfully latch back on twice at the base of two local mountains. De-latching inevitably occurred half way up said mountains.
After an eternity of fruitless chasing, I was gratefully picked up by a 15-20 strong pack rolling along at a more comfortable pace. Even better, my two teammates Dr. Pain and JOM were also nicely tucked in with the gruppo compacto.
There was no chance our little group was going to reel in the superstars but a few strong guys took more than their fair share of pace setting while most were just grateful slackers. Unfortunately, I must admit Team GravelCyclist.com was among the slackers.
“Guys, it doesn’t look good for the three of us to occupy the three rear slots. We need to occasionally add our rears to the effort.” (Did I mention our average age was 56?).
Note from JOM – I’m 40 something yo, the other two are codgers and eff up the average.
Soon after JOM “spat the dummy” (Aussie for “sat up”) and joined the Gran Fondo with about 15 miles to go.
At one of the last aid stations, two very young guys broke protocol and tried to sneak off the front of the remaining 10 guys or so. One simply does not attack the feed zone… so I went to the front and hoped to inspire a chase. Then I remembered what a distant mentor said. “Never close a gap. There is always someone younger and stupider to do that for you.” Just then Dr. Pain, recently blipped back from the Gran Fondo, came up on my right commanding me to “Get on my wheel?” and took off chasing. We were two of the oldest guys chasing guys new to facial hair (which is better than no hair of course).
Eventually if not wisely, we ran them down. With eight miles to go Dr. Pain spat the dummy and blipped back to recover in the Gran Fondo. I managed to hang on but with four miles remaining, threw my chain and had to stop to drape it back on. I said bye bye to the remaining five guys from the original chase and cruised solo to take first in the really old guys’ race. A few minutes later Dr. Pain rolled across for third in the less than really old guys race.
I hope Chain Buster continues this race next year. It’s hard but safe. The hills are tough but not brutal. The support and course marking was excellent, the promoters warm and friendly.
See ye next year!
* “Flailure” – When you’re taken off the back by sand, soil or steepness of terrain despite flailing your legs as spasmodically as possible.
Some photos in this article by M. Kocher Photography.