Thanks for stealing a moment from your busy routine to check out the new blog. New teammate, Vic Emond has done a tremendous job in re-vamping the Team Tortuga web site, so my first mention is to thank him profusely. Great job, Vic. We all appreciate your efforts.
Many changes have taken place within Team Tortuga over the past six months. As most of you know by now, we added several new teammates from the former Duke/Big Brothers squad. Along with the team members, Team Tortuga now proudly represents Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Indiana. The changes have brought a new enthusiasm to the squad, not to mention the return of elite level racing. When Team Tortuga was originally created, the squad consisted of Category 1,2 riders only. Sponsors and team members alike, are excited about the return to elite level racing by the squad.
With representation in all categories, Team Tortuga will step up as the sole team sponsor of the Downtown Bloomington Criterium in early August this season. As I write this post, Team Director, Chris Kroll is meeting with Darren Reno of Truesport to work out the logistics of putting on the race.
Speaking of racing, a handful of Tortugans raced in March. Gary Palmer won the Category 3 St. Peter’s RR in Elizabeth, IN on 3/18. Gary’s win stands out for two reasons. First, he is 49. Secondly, and more impressive, is the fact that he missed all of last season due to a crash that cracked his hip. Many months of re-hab and diligent training have brought Gary back to the top of his game. Congrats on the comeback Gary.
Adam Rodkey has participated in several Category 4 races thus far into the season, placing in the top 10 in some of his events. Adam’s enthusisam is only topped by his top notch mechanical skills, which can be experienced if you take your bike into BikeSmiths, where he wrenches and otherwise holds down the fort.
Although no results worthy of mention were garned by the 1,2 contingent, a few moments are worthy of comment. During the St. Leon RR a group of locals stood at the end of their driveway, which was located approximately 2-3 miles from the finish line. Said locals were every bit as rowdy as anyone you’d encounter in Belgium and equally charged with brew. On lap 2 of the 3 15-mile laps, one of the riders in my group took a beer hand up, sending the driveway revelers into a frenzy. They cheered wildly, banged on trash lids and buckets and generally offered some respite from the otherwise, unpleasant reality of grinding away into a headwind for 14 miles only to face the monster ascent, a climb of approximately 3/4 mile @ a pitch of roughly 10-12%.
Speaking of which, my group included the dry-witted, sarcastic Harry Clark of Texas Roadhouse. His one liners kept us moving toward the finish line, but nearly brought us all to a stop the final time up the beast. As we hit the base of the climb, Harry wryly commented, “It really sucks when you’re in your biggest cog at the very bottom of a climb.” A few pedal strokes later, he added, sarcastically, “If you guys weren’t here, I’d walk this f…in’ thing.” After gasps of laughter, you could feel the hesitation in just about every one of us as we contemplated doing just that, getting off and walking. Needless to say, that hill hurt. But alas, the driveway beer handups beckoned a few short miles away, pulling us up with invisible, liquid strength.
A few flashes of form flickered at the Hueston Woods State Park RR the last weekend of March. Covering what I thought would only be the first of a flurry of attacks, I went away with Patrick O’Donnell of TRH and Oliver Beeson of Bacardi/Nuvo. Another rider initially joined us, but quickly faded. Shortly thereafter, O’Brian Forbes joined us and the suffering was on.
Knowing full well that at some point my legs would give out for trading pulls with the likes of POD and OBF, I chose to, in Karim’s words, “man-up” and take an equal share of the work load. After 23 miles of effort, the legs gave out. Oliver let up with me and the pack caught us a few miles later. Once the two of us were captured, the flurry of attacks I thought would come at the outset, were launched by the approximately 35 TRH guys in the field. Chris Kroll and Patrick Delisle were in the mix of nearly every move, also showing flashes of form.
Unlike a fellow Diarrehaist, who berates competitors for racing to the very end of a race, even if out of contention for a placing, I’ll compliment the fields we’ve faced this season. Everyone seems to be super fit early in the year. Patrick O’Donnell has won 3 or 4 races in a row and I can attest the young man is still super strong despite his extremely busy schedule that includes wife, Allie, a 9-month old baby, and 12-16 hour days interning at IU Med Center. As for Forbes, he’s a motor. The guy has been racing forever and still has what it takes to land in the winning break almost every time. I was pleased to last 23 miles with these two strong men and look forward to matching them all race long as the season unwinds.
During the Hueston Woods race, a group of six escaped the field with about 15 miles of racing left. Those six gobbled up the remaining places, but it did not prevent the pack from continuing its own race. To the very end, riders were aggressive in their attempts to get away and although no places were available, the sprint up the final climb was hotly contested by the many who still had legs. Again, my compliments to the many who showed good form to the end.
Now that we’ve entered April, racing proper, as in with a full squad, will commence. First up for a few of us, however, is the MMSF TT this Saturday. 14.6 miles of truth. I’m looking forward to stuffing it down Jack Nicholson’s throat this season. TTs have been my achilles heal over the past few seasons. We’ll see if changes to the regimen have produced any improvement.
Chris Kroll holds the course record for Saturday’s TT with a time of 34:52. I’m certain he will break that this weekend. The Badger is looking very strong of late, as many of you will find out tomorrow night at the first Wednesday Night World Championship. 32 miles on the 446 loop. Watch for the Badger to rip some legs off during the opening night.
Thanks for reading and look for regular posts a couple times a week.