Bertucco Report: Blueberries and Red Lions

Hello Racing Fans,

Did you know that Hammonton, New Jersey is "The Blueberry Capital of the World?"

Yeah...me neither. But there it was...a very official looking road sign in big letters along today's flat, fast and windy road race course. It would have been nice to see some actual cartons of blueberries at a roadside fruit stand, or at least some picked over blueberry bushes, but no such luck. I did see some juicy slices of blueberry pie at the local Red Lion diner (a diner that came complete with full-sized red-stone lion statue in the parking lot---c'mon, gotta love Jersey style!).

I've since decided that inspite of the lack of evidence, I will still believe that boastful sign. Mostly because once I heard this story on National Public Radio about how there are only a few states in this country that can grow cranberries and, yes, New Jersey is one of them. I know, cranberries have nothing to do with blueberries, but in my mind I've made some kind of bizarre berry connection.

Anyway, back to the racing action. The following is a list of reasons why I (and you) shouldn't care about my 4th place finish Sunday in the category 1/2/3 Blueberry Bicicletta Road Race:

Despite the cancellation of the nearby and extremely popular Bear Mountain road race, the Blueberry cat 1/2/3 start list grew to only 15 racers.
The advertised 63-mile, 4-lap race was cut to down to 47 miles.
The promoter, after asking if everyone had health insurance, informed us that the race would technically not be licensed by USA Cycling until the following Monday and gave us the option of not racing. Sketchy, right?
As the 4th place finisher, I am the winner of some apparently very expensive clothing items from the "$750 in merchandise" prize list. There is the 2005 Tour de France hat, a size XXL t-shirt that says "speed bump" on it, and a size small 2005 Tour de France t-shirt. I'm still undecided on whether I should gain or lose a tremendous amount of weight this winter.
So why I am still pretty happy to have placed 4th?
Because I've been racing long enough (downtube shifters anyone?) to know that for most of us, placing in a race comes few and far between.
Because smaller fields means fewer places to hide from the wind.
Because there were at least 5 guys (including myself) that wanted a slug-fest of a race making it impossible to remember all of the attacks and counter-attacks.
Because bike racing is hard. Period.
Because my brand new fiance (Sarah said yes Labor Day weekend in Vermont at the Green Mountain Stage Race) is proud of me. And that's what really matters.
Sometimes I think us racers are too critical, too quick to look for the negative, too quick to discount the value of small moments that don't matter to anyone but you and your biggest fans. Or maybe that's just me. But if not, the next time you do something good, head on over to the Red Lion diner and celebrate with a piece of blueberry pie.

-Marc Bertucco

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