Tortuga Fires an Opening Salvo Across the Bow!

A race post from Tom Saccone- Congratulations to both our top ten finishers!!

The unassuming, narrow course for the Clark State Forest RR was only 2 miles and change but for the 30 or so Masters that appeared (most of which this would be their first foray into the fray of battle –present company included) it would suffice.  Our goal was to complete 45 minutes on this circuit.  I went down to this USCF event with Gary Palmer carrying the Tortugan flag.  Most of our nervous chatter along the way was about training methods and calories and “honey do” lists, wondering aloud if we were ready for the challenge.  Cyclists are generally a nervous lot, inside at least.  We tried to think of the task ahead.   We arrived with an hour and a half to get ready-ample time for a 45 minute event-and set to warming up.  We rode a lap of the course during the 123 event, noticing that the field had been ripped apart by the 3rd lap, providing gut-churning food for thought.  The start line of the Masters event is a curious place. Nervous smiles, last minute bike checks, some hyperventilation, all creating this sense of uneasiness like before an exam.  Gary and I lined up in the second rank behind a sea of Papa Johns.  By my count 9 of them, nearly a third of the pack!  Behind was Pedal Power, Indiana Masters and Barbasol.  At the gun, I got a good hole shot and settled in 5th spot behind (you guessed it) four PJ riders. The course began in the middle of a slight descent and turned hard left after several hundred meters, rounded a lake on the right and climbed in the big ring through some rollers on the backside to the finish. Immediately, PJs began a deadly game of repartee, sending riders off in staccato fashion.  From my vantage point at the front I was able to cover all comers during this initial feeding frenzy.  Gary made his presence known as quickly working with me to subdue these counter punches.  Two attempts actually had riders from 4 teams represented, but nothing stuck.   We were wondering who were the pretenders and who on PJs really had the goods.  We soon found out.  After a vicious series of attacks in the second lap, covered by me, then Gary, then Barbasol, then Indiana Masters, a PJ (Glen) rider breaks free with Gary on the rivet and right at the front of the group.  Gary covers and no one follows!  Perfect! There is only about 15 of us in this select group now.  Then another PJs jumps and bridges (Ward) – and the break takes form as the Papa Johns and now me work to cover the Indiana Masters and other non-represented teams.  Bicycle logic, unfortunately dictates that in a two against one situation the advantage almost always lies with the two rather than the one.  But our Gary had them going and forced them to play their hand early, trying to drop him in the hills.  They succeeded ultimately at dispatching the lone Tortugan, but not before he made his mark and took a resounding third place on the podium.  It was a pleasure to be in the first group following our man and listen to the peloton chatter,  “Who is the guy from Tortuga?” they asked.  “Is it Chris Kroll?”   Ah, Chris Kroll, here in spirit still!  They’ll not soon forget the name Gary Palmer the next time the pizza delivery man comes calling!  I brought in the bunch a few moments later, as we sprinted full across the road, picking up 10th place.

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