Kelly Rides Off Into the Sunset
I thought a lot about what I would say in this post. Being the last race of the season, I am extremely sad to see the seniors go. Lazer, Tino, and I went out for a ride of R.B. Winter today, and it was really hitting all of us…this 2012 team is running out of time together…but what a great year it was.
Easterns last weekend was an excellent bonding experience for the team. Thanks to Papa K, the team was supplied with a rather large bus that he graciously offered to drive to New Hampshire and back. Along for the final journey of the season was Kelly, Harry, Sam, Lazer and I. The ride to New Hampshire was full of chatter. Reminiscing about the season that we had spent together, there was plenty of laughter to go around. At other times, there was talk of next season, the future of the Bucknell Cycling Team and what needed to be done. The freshman class from this season definitely has dreams of big things to come in the future…hopefully we can allow them to come to fruition.
Thanks to the blistering pace of Papa K, we arrived on the UNH campus just after 10 o’clock…just in time for Kelly to catch up with her beloved Sheldon. (Just kidding guys). That night, we spent most of the time trying to fix my bicycle…which has decided to quit on me many times during this season. We got it running the best we could, and hit the sack in order to rest up for some long road racing the next day. Dan kept cuddling with me all night…which greatly hindered my sleep. Thankfully, we only had to wake up at the outrageously late time of 9:30 because we had no riders going off in the early categories. Papa K was definitely thankful for that.
The course for the road race was simply awesome. A 20 mile loop, it featured 3 major climbs that severely broke up the fields, as well as some fun descents that were sure to keep things interesting. Tucked into the backcountry of New Hampshire, it was a perfect place to end the season.
In the C road race, Dan prepared to do some serious damage. On one of the first major climbs, Lazer propelled himself off the front, establishing a small breakaway with one other rider over the rest of the field. After a hard effort, Lazer was pulled back by the peloton where he sat in for the rest of the 40 mile race in order to sprint for 17th at the finish. Lazer was slightly annoyed with his finish after the race, but even though I didn’t see any Dan’s race, I know he must have rode in typical Dan Lazier fashion—aggressive. He still placed in the top ten of C2, and did well to finish at the top of a combined field of almost 60 riders. I often acknowledge that Dan is a much stronger rider than me. His sprinting is off the charts, his climbing is absolutely insane, he is the best TT man on the team, and his desire to destroy everyone he races against is quite intense. See you in Bs next season LazerBeam…lets crush some people.
In the B road race, I proudly pulled on the pink numbers next to Sam for the first time this season. I have to admit, I was slightly really freaking nervous for this 60 mile road race next to the more polished riders in Bs. The first 20 miles were pretty slow. Everyone was just feeling out the course and getting their legs under them. Towards the middle of the second lap, a pretty big selection occurred on one of the climbs. I crested the top of that hill and caught back onto the group on the descent…yet at the conclusion of the second lap, Sam and a few other riders decided to push the pace on the uphill to the finish…and I was dropped pretty hard at that point. Sam was a great help during my 40 miles in the group. He is an outstanding navigator who can move through the pack with ease. At one point, he moved us right to the front…prompting some of the veteran B riders to command me to get to the back where I belonged. Haha…I may have listened.
I did the last lap by myself, while Sam stayed with the lead selection of riders until about 10 to go. At that point, the group splintered and Sam ended up coming in by himself in 18th. Sam did a great job, especially on a very hilly course, to pull off a respectable finish. Thanks to Harry and Papa K for their help in the feed zone. We had some pretty awesome food and bottle hand-offs that definitely made me feel extra professional. Papa K summed up my race at the end with a fantastic statement as I rested exhausted on my handlebars: “welcome to Bs Case.” We all climbed into the van and set off for some pizza, especially glad to have the long road race behind us.
That night, Harry and Papa K set up a little scavenger hunt for Sam, Dan, and I. We had fun with that, but really didn’t understand until the end that we were supposed to be meaner to one another while participating in this old Easterns tradition. Later that night, we hopped onto Jeff Salvitti’s dear Google+ for some chatting with former Bucknell riders Dan Wood, Matt Means, Sinead, Wade, and Kevin Curran. Thankfully, Jeff was busy at a Phillies game…so he wasn’t initially there to talk at the meeting that he had organized in the first place. He finally showed up on the screen talking through a phone while huddled in the bathroom of the stadium…such a sad sight it was.
In the UNH Criterium the next day…the Bucknell Cycling Team sure set off some fireworks. In accordance with the highlight of the day, I am going to start with Kelly’s race.
Dan started a funny tradition early in the season that fittingly describes Kelly’s final race. The act entails Dan running alongside Kelly during her races, while screaming at her: “Kelly Desharnais: YOU ARE MY HERO!” On this day, she was everyone’s hero, putting in a perfect finish to her collegiate career—with a victory in the women’s A/B crit. In front of her parents, grandparents and King Sheldon himself, Kelly surely looked dialed in. Throughout the race, she led the top ladies of the ECCC through the finish, and on many occasions, sat directly at the front of the pack. During the second sprint lap, Kelly even contested the sprint to take 1st place on the line, and win herself a wind-vest from Team Liquigas Cannondale. Even so, the announcers at the race seemed to completely forget THE SECOND BEST FEMALE RIDER IN THE ECCC when trying to predict the winner of the race. Kelly shocked them, but definitely not us, when she flew around the final corner and left everyone else in the dust to finish over a bike length and a half in front of her other competitors. Kelly looked calm and under very little pressure throughout the race. By the end of the day, she had firmly secured 2nd place overall in the women’s A ECCC standings. Below is a video of the finish. The crazy man calmly yelling “go Kelly” in the background is yours truly. I’d like to think it gave her the strength to pull off such a great win. Congrats Dashark. (Just a side note…Kelly went out for a race in the weekend following Easterns, and won that race too!)
Before Kelly’s race, there were two other contests that featured Bucknell riders. The first, was Lazer’s race in the Men’s C Criterium. As one of the strongest riders left in Cs, Dan stayed right on the front of the pack throughout the duration of the race. At one point in the first few laps, Sam and I were concerned Dan wasn’t feeling so good, as he was bringing up the rear—which is not a typical Dan thing to do. Yet, just as we expressed this concern to one another, on the next lap around the course, Dan was sitting second wheel, and both Sam and I breathed a sigh of relief. Cheered on by Kelly’s obnoxious screams of “go baby girl,” both Dan and our friend Sheldon finished well in this race. With three to go, Sheldon was even off the front, in a solo bid for the win. In the end, Dan finished 15th, and Sheldon picked up 18th. Both slotted in the the top third of a field that featured well over 50 riders.
Finally, in the last men’s race of the season, Sam and I suited up for the men’s B crit. It was a race that again showed, Mr. Sam Cowans had found his racing legs. I spend most of the 50 minutes just trying to hold on to the back of the pack, but Sam was an active participant in the racing. As few riders from UNH and Vermont sprang off the front early on in the race, Sam was there to chase them down, enabling him to take 2nd in the first sprint. About a third of the way to go, a single rider from KMS was way off the front, and Sam had an unfortunate mishap. Someone’s pedal or handlebar somehow got stuck in Sam’s wheel, (we are all still confused how it happened) and Sam broke a spoke on one of his wheels. Sam was only a few riders in front of me at the time, and as I passed by and asked him if he was alright, he wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong. Fortunately, Dan had his bike race-side, and he hurried over to the pits to get Sam back into the race with one of Dan’s wheels. I was completely gassed by the end of the race, and was only able to sprint for 23rd, while Sam came in inside the points in 16th. All in all, what a fast race it was. Sam was clearly one of the fastest and strongest in the field, we just have to figure out how to deliver that man to the finish line. Next season, it will be a challenge for us all.
The team then said goodbye to New Hampshire, in order to arrive home at a reasonable hour. Papa K once again drove the van the entire 9 hours back to Lewisburg—a very gracious thing to do. At the conclusion of the weekend, Papa K’s list of observations had grown to 13. I will be posting a special post listing observation lists from the entire season, but here are Papa K’s from the weekend at Easterns:
Papa K Observations:
1. Upon leaving for UNH the first thing I thought of was the last race (Army) and how sick I was and how grateful I was to have Tino to drive the van home. (He only fell asleep once).
2. We have a pump this weekend.....how are we going to make friends?
3. Holiday Inn Express.......Thank you!
4. We didn't have to wake up until 9:00am. I don't ever recall getting to sleep in that long.
5. This morning while standing in the shower, waking up the parts that don't wake up when I do, and staring at the faucet, the H C (hot and cold knobs) made me think of Harry Chen. I now fear that every time I stand at a sink or get into a shower I will think of Harry Chen.
6. It is bad luck to shave your legs on race day. I did not know that.
7. It is thought by some that Sam has no friends.
9. Contrary to what the sign says in Omnibus #42, it does fit under the St. George st. underpass.
10. Sam is always nervous before a race, but he doesn't show it.
11. My highlight of the season was watching Kelly win the crit at Easterns in her final Bucknell race. Well done!
Well, I guess that concludes the last race post of the season. It has been a fantastic year of racing and riding, one that I could not have imagined when I set out for my first Bucknell ride with Harry and Fixed-Gear back in August. The 2012 Bucknell Cycling Team may not be remembered for being a top racing squad, but in a year that featured outstanding racing from 4 new freshman, a final finish of 13th overall in the ECCC standings is nothing to sneeze at. I feel as though I have made life-long friendships along the way,and would like to offer my sincerest best wishes to President Tino, Kelly Dashark, Billy Holm, Josh, Christine, and the rest of the class of 2012 for a successful post-Bucknell future. A few weeks ago, the team elected its new representatives for the 2013 racing season, and we are already hard at work planning great new things for the upcoming season. I hope to post to the blog throughout the summer, so continue to stop by the site in order to see what Dan, Harry, Sam, Zander, I, and the rest of the team is doing as we prepare for next year.