By Mark McGraw | The Campus Gypsy
For those of you who missed the LSU trip, here’s a rundown from my point of view (riding in Men’s C with Carlton Mathis, James “Rosie” Rosenbaum, and Chris Standley).
Team Time Trial (Saturday morning) – beautiful, windless, smooth, flat 10 mi. loop near the Mississippi River south of Baton Rouge.
The four of us took 20 second pulls, rode hard and smart and did a good job of talking to each other. We only needed to finish with 2, so we intentionally rode hard enough so that at least one of us would have to drop. Chris Standley valiantly hung with us to about the 8 mile mark, gave a ginormous final hard pull and the remaining three of us finished in a sprint. Rosie and Carlton edged me at the line and Rosie’s wheel counted for our time. As it turned out we needed just about every second to edge out UT and LSU to get 2nd in the Men’s C TTT behind Tulane. We did about as well as we hoped.
Criterium (Saturday afternoon) – I’m no expert on crit courses, but the LSU crit course on the main LSU campus was what I’d call very sketchy. There was a half-roundabout, lots of seams and broken pavement, cars (yes, cars on the crit course) driven by people oblivious to the fact that a bike race was going on around them, and feral humans wandering across the course while texting on their mobile devices. The course was sealed off from outside traffic, but that didn’t keep people who were parked along the course before the crit started from coming out of the buildings, cranking up said vehicles, and smoothly backing into the path of 20 cyclists.
My goals for the crit were to: 1) not crash 2) stay with the main group. I felt smooth and strong going through the corners (a great improvement over the UT crit) and I did my best to hang with the bunch. I was deep in the pain cave and feeling a little weak with about 5 laps to go, but was able to maintain contact with the front group. On the next to last lap I was nearly taken down by a crashed rider who went into the curb coming out of the roundabout. I was trying to work for Carlton on the last lap, but I lacked about 100 yards of steam to deliver him to an ideal spot for the final sprint. He got 3rd on his own steam. Both my goals were accomplished and I finished 11th. As soon as I finished riding I took Chris Roscoe to the emergency room. He was taken down in the D race in the roundabout and wound up with a broken clavicle, 2 fractured wrists and a brain contusion . Sitting hungry and sweaty in a freezing cold emergency room for 6 ½ hours is not good recovery for cycling, especially for the guy who is injured.
Road course – Beautiful rolling hills near St. Francisville, north of Baton Rouge. So many trees you occasionally felt like you were riding in a green tunnel. Men’s C course was about 36 miles.
We and the UT riders covered attacks by U of H and Rice and the bunch stayed together until about 6 miles to go. Zane Lybrand had given me some tips about when to go and not go and they all came into play for most of the race and served me well. Remembering something Willie Allen told me, I went about as hard as I could off the front for about a mile to try to break the group up. I still think it was a decent move even though it didn’t work. While recovering from that pull and drifting back in the group, a rider on the left side of the group hit someone’s wheel and caromed across the whole group, taking out about 5 or 6 of us. I endo’ed over him into the grass, got up and ran my bike back up to the road. I had a double-kink in my chain that took a while to get out. It took me what felt like a fatal three minutes to get my chain back on and get rolling. Chris Standley had to come to a full stop to avoid the wreck but didn’t go down. He waited for me and helped me with my bike and then rode with me and a skinned-up LSU rider the last 3 miles into the finish; a very classy and unselfish move. A big man-hug and all conceivable props to Chris Standley. The rider from U of H won the Men’s C, showing some serious stones up the last climb and into the last sprint from what I heard. Rice also has some real strong, smart riders in Men’s C.
All in all, a great racing weekend that made me proud of our team. I don’t know if I’ll get fussed at for fraternizing with the enemy, but I really like the UT guys. They show good sportsmanship and ride hard, unselfishly, and safely. They’re collegial and friendly enough to pass for Aggies and I look forward to seeing them at the races. So a handful of good dudes can reverse many decades of unbridled hatred towards the school in Austin. Who knew?
LSU should be commended for this first event. The whole thing was well-planned and organized and 2 out of the 3 venues were absolutely perfect. The crit course may be even workable if they could get cars off of it.
I regret that I won’t be going to Baylor next weekend, as I plan to do a triathlon in Louisiana on the 27th with my brothers.
Mark “really should be writing a paper right now” McG