Prinner Report: Joe Martin Stage Race

Hi y'all,

Yeah, I know the Joe Martin was, like, so four weeks ago, but due to
excessive homework and bicycle riding I was unable to write it
earlier. I definitely feel, though, that I absolutely must write this
report because I need to pay Sue S. some tribute for driving me down.
By the way, Sue is not a Susan, she is a Suzanna.

After 10ish hours of driving on the interstate, Sue and I were tired
and hungry as we finally arrived at our destination. If the drive had
been only an hour or so longer, I probably would have had to resort to
killing and eating my travel companion, but luckily we pulled into
Fayetteville, Arkansas just in time. Knowing that the combination of
road race and time trial would be hard the next day, we decided to eat
at a cozy little hole in the wall Italian restaurant. We plunged into
our food like rabid hungry wolves and not 30 minutes later, we were
practically passed out on the table in our empty dishes.

The next day we made sure to show up bright and early to the first
event of the weekend; the road race. The start and finish of this 34-
mile road race were 11 miles apart, so Sue and I blithely decided to
park at the start line and just ride the 11 miles back after we
finished. After completing a good warm-up, I sat down in some weeds to
stretch and not 2 minutes later I looked down only to find a giant red
tick marching up my arm. I screamed, swatted the tick away, and bolted
out of the grass. God, I never knew pavement could be so comforting.

As the road race started off, I felt antsy and ready to charge up the
first hill I could find. As soon as the grade rose, I was at the front
pushing the pace, and doing a great job of burning myself out. I only
expected for there to be one or two hills to start, but the hills kept
coming and the grade got steeper and steeper and I eventually
regretted going so soon because my legs were starting to die. Then,
just as I had feared, an attack struck and shattered the field
instantly. I was left struggling to chase the front group that quickly
pulled away, but I soon realized my effort was meaningless, and waited
up to jump in the second chase group of 7 or so riders. We pacelined
for most of the race until the main field caught us at the end, but
lucky for me another lady attacked and we formed a smaller group of
five and managed to stay away to the finish, where I placed 13th. The
front breakaway had obtained over 5 minutes on us, and I knew by then
that my conquest for victory would be fruitless. Then again, the
possibility of pulling a "Landis" was always a chance as well, and
then I could be cycing's newest scandal.

After the race, Sue and I, both delirious, began our long ride back to
the car. As soon as we hit the first hill Sue and I decided that since
our coach wasn't there we would get off and just walk the hill. And,
as if that didn't make us look unprofessional enough, at that very
moment it started to rain. I guess one lady in her car took one look
at us and felt sorry for the poor buffoons walking up the hill in the
rain and decided to stop and give one of us a ride. Her car was jammed
with bikes and people, so she agreed to drive Sue back the 11 miles to
her car while I stood there and held the bikes waiting. Well, at least
she gave me her rain jacket, which happened to be bright red; very
unnoticeable. So they drove away and I walked on until I found a mail
box to prop the bikes up against, and then, looking for a place to sit
away from the road and the grass, I finally resorted to sitting on the
mail box to avoid the ticks, which I'm sure were eyeing me in my
bright red raincoat . And so I sat there, not for the first time in my
life, on a mail box in lycra and a bright red raincoat in a
thunderstorm looking very much like a scrappy teenager. Yes, folks, I
said thunderstorm, because not long after planting my behind on that
mailbox a bright golden flash crashed across the sky and happened to
catch my attention. Just when I was pondering whether it was such a
good idea to be sitting on a mailbox as it was lightening, a small,
sporty red car pulled up and a nice looking lady asked if I wanted to
sit in her car until Sue returned. Normally, I might be a tad bit
cautious of this situation, but considering the circumstances at the
moment I figured, "Well, at least she didn't offer me candy" and
hopped into her small, sporty red car. As thunder crashed outside, I
found out that this lady was quite old and was the wife of one of the
race organizers, so I figured she must be going through a mid-life
crisis with her small, sporty red car. A few minutes later Sue ar
rived and I thankfully waved that small, sporty red car away and
proceeded to chuck our bicycles haphazardly into the Jeep as it
monsooned on us. And just as I hopped into the passenger seat of the
car it started to hail, and I'm not talkin' about little ice chips of
hail, I'm talkin' about marble sized chunks of hail. "Was the perfect
timing pure luck?", you ask. Naw, we're just that good. And we happily
floated our jeep back to the hotel on a river that was once a road
only to find that there was a severe tornado warning in effect.

Now cycling is quite a unique sport in that it will continue in pretty
much all conditions. Despite the fact that there had been a severe
tornado warning just and hour or two ago, the time trial still went on
as schedule just a few hours after the road race had ended. The entire
geography of the course was really quite interesting; the whole TT was
2.5 mile uphill climb out of a valley with an average grade of 6.8%
and steep switchbacks with a plunging drop on one side. And the name
of the park it was in was just as fitting: Devil's Den State Park. And
the ironic part of it all was that I used to go climbing in Devil's
Den when we vacationed to Arkansas many years ago. Little did I know
of how I would painfully suffer my way up that same climb years later.

So after changing in the woods (yeah, that was pretty cool) I hopped
on my bike and began my long spin to warm up my sore legs. Then I
trekked up to the start line just in time to be let off and begin my
long, tedious climb up to Devil's Den. During the whole ordeal I
passed two riders and ended up in 4th place.

The next day Sue and I were forced to wake up early to make it to the
final stage of the day: the criterium. The course proved to be very
tricky, with two quick downhill turns and a super steep uphill finish,
not to mention that it was absolutely freezing out and I was wearing
just about every article of clothing I owned at the start line. Of
course, from the gun there was an attack that split the field almost
instantly and I managed to cling on for dear life long enough to catch
my breath as soon as they slowed down. I guess due to the fact that it
was a women's race, it was only 25 minutes long because USCF officials
apparently think that we'll all fall over dead or something if we have
to ride farther than 12 miles. It was for this reason that the main
field remained at about 20-30 riders for the finishing sprint. I
finally felt blessed that it was an uphill finish, because that's just
about all I can do in my junior gears, so I happily managed to take
3rd and grab a time bonus to slide into 10th place overall.

And with all that being done and accomplished Sue and I, both tired
and gleeful, sailed our way home to Illinois. Sure, I know my weekend
in Arkansas wasn't anything like stage racing in Tokyo or France, but
it sure was a heck of a lot of fun, and besides, I gotta start
somewhere, don't I?

-Jessi Prinner

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