Rally (Hell) Ride 6-16-2009

5:45 As usual, running late riding hard across town to get to spring meadow on time for the weekly Hellride, my favorite training day of the week. On the Upper Westside I run into Shane Mundt adjusting his seat height, I lend a hand to steady his bike. Never enough time for bike maintenance which is always needed when you need to be somewhere! Adjustments done we make it on time for the ride. 

6:00–14 cyclists are divided into three teams so that we can work on team tactics this week. Lucky me, I have Greg Wirth on my team, who won all three stages last week. We receive the ride instructions and sprint finish locations form Robert Ray and we are off. A little windier than last week, but par for late spring in Helena. Later my Garmin reported from Helena Airport weather station 77 degrees and winds from the WNW average 11.9 mph high of 17.2 mph.

First effort to the fire station, Shane’s off the front with a tough effort into the wind. I am not feeling it so my lead out for the team members is non existent, and I cruise in with Mike Jacobson. He gave an extra effort and beats me across the line. Man that is always a tough hill. No biggie, I will give the second stage a better effort, after all, I’ve gone off the front in a break away on the second one before and held off the peloton. I’ve even won with a nice sprint. Certainly I can give it a good effort. Hmm, I’ve also gone off the front, been hung out there to suffer only to be reeled in and left for dead! Part of the beauty of this ride, you can dare to be great and win a big ego boost, or you can dare to be great, get clobbered and gain some real fitness, come back and do it again. It’s a win no matter. So we regroup at the fire house. I learn three things: One, I’m nominated to write up the race report; two, Greg Wirth won the first stage (I was so far back and not paying attention to learn this firsthand); and three, the team in the lead rolls out last on stage two. . .lucky me, Greg is on my team, we head out last.

After team one and team two head out, we casually follow. I’m thinking, Come on team, they are moving. . . lets go! Mike Jacobson takes control and bridges our team up to team two. I peter out and fall off again. Not my day. I watch as everyone goes by, but so far out that I again cannot see the finish. Again, Greg takes the win.

Fine, I’m just going to cruise with the wind on the third stage. I sit back and am amazed at 35 plus miles per hour with zero cadence. Drafting, downhill with a tailwind is cool, but I’m not really working on my fitness. That’s ok, I’m tired and I like sitting in the back. I watching Sarah lead, who turns it over to Mike, who leads/pulls everyone for the majority of the stage. I watch the hard effort of Mike, man he’s got to be tired! I watch the sly, experienced and amazing Robert Ray position himself . . . strategizing, like everyone else, for the stage win. Waiting, resting and watching everyone else just fly down the road. But hey, didn’t you see Shane? We are getting toward the end and Shane is still way off the front. Aren’t `YOU’ going to chase him down? Ok, the hill is coming, time to go. I swing out to go around. I catch Greg’s wheel just as he makes the jump. I think, Greg’s on my team, but who cares, if I can, I am going to pass him! No chance. 1/3 up. I’m not looking back. I don’t have too. I know Robert is there. . . he always is. I don’t know how many times he has passed me at this point. Last week he passed me in the last five yards. Zoom, there goes Tom (from the East coast–Boston?) and Big Jumpin’ John Tietz both passed by me then Greg with authority going first and second place, repectivly. We all pass Shane 2/3 the way up who gave it a valiant effort off the front for several of the miles. Shane probably had the best workout, but no stage win today. Greg crosses third, I come in fourth and Joe Hamilton is fifth. Hey, I didn’t get Greg, Greg didn’t sweep, and Robert didn’t pass me! 

The Hellride has something for everyone. The climber can win stage one, the daring time trial specialist can take stage two, and the vertically challenged can cruise along with the peloton at high speeds in stage three. Regardless of your ability, we always regroup and challenge ourselves. If you haven’t come out yet, do so. You might enjoy it as much as I do.

Dave Hamer

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