Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tour de Ephrata, 4.25-26.09

Thinking about this day holistically, or partly so.  We drove up Friday -- my fourteen year-old (racing age 15) son Avery and 17 y.o. teammate.  Slogged through Friday night traffic north.  Stayed in Lititz, a small village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  Woke early, at race registration by 7:30 AM.  Avery and teammate launch in Category 4 event at 9 AM, a 40 mile race through farmland.  Slightly overcast and cool in morning, so shot at ISO 800 until about noon, then dropped to 400.  Haven't done post processing yet, but probably a few nice ones.  In afternoon, served my team's Elite squad in feed-zone, passing out bottles of water as they raced past during their 72 miler.  Nobody I know did particularly well in the races.  It seems the newly seasonal heat -- racing in 85 degree air temp on hotter roads -- sapped everyone.  My son and teammate had a mechanical (broken spoke) and flat tire, respectively, on their first lap, and they dutifully slogged on to the end of the race.

I am always struck by how good folks are in the cycling community.  The sport is lots of fun but trying, and racers, parents, and supporters are giving and tight.  More folks should find a path like this.

After the Elite finish, we returned to the hotel and Avery showered.  I padded him with a couple twenties so he could have dinner with teammates and folks; I put on my bibs and L'Abitibi jersey and headed out.  From about 5 - 6:30 I rode the race course.  I was blown away.  Very beautiful venue.  On my second lap, I worked reasonably hard and probably turned in a not too embarrassing lap time (for a Cat 5 newbie).  There were so many great scenes I wanted to hop off my bike and grab a shot:  A little Amish boy on the front swing of his hundred-year old stone house; horses charging across fields; flatulent cows; Amish buggies; kids on old bikes pulling wagons filled with fishing poles and buckets, headed to the creek; a young couple laying about on a creek bank; fields and farms in rich light cast by low angle sun.  I was inspired, so after loading my bike on the trusty CRV, I dropped to a couple spots to take some shots -- a covered bridge, fly fishermen (missed them ... they left after I pulled in), stream wash.

My job inside the Beltway can be stressful.  It was good tonic to cruise through the fields and grab some shots -- maybe, later, antidotes to hang on office walls.

Tomorrow, Pain Mountain time trial early morning, then downtown Ephrata criterium races.  Last year's pics are here.  Monday, Nathan flies to El Paso, gateway to the Tour of the Gila, a monster road race in New Mexico.  I'm tempted to push out there for some additional tonic (and incredible scenery), but probably not practical.

More to come.

Pretty socked-out.  Big story for me was intensity and success Avery had in Cat 4 races Sunday.  Pictures tell all:  A beast at the front of the pack.  Other notes were a number of crashes in downtown criterium.  Funny, I was talking with fellow NCVC U19 father, Linc Brookes, as we sat about the second corner, a 90-degree turn after a downhill.  I said, "Linc, you know in the Cat 4/5 race, there's a 50% chance of a crash right here."  Soon enough, the riders came around the corner on their first lap, working hard, and smack, a rider went over the curb and down.  Coincidence was, it was Linc's son, David.  David dusted himself off, took a free lap, and powered on to win 8th -- a damn good result, all considered. [Nb:  It wasn't just juniors who crashed.] Left not long after Cat 4 race with Avery.  Pulled about 100+ photos from the till and post-processed.  Results pretty good. Selection here.


Kathy said...

As usual, your people photos are wonderful, but I was particularly taken by the soulful eyes of that black dog in the first dozen or so shots. I'm a sucker for a good dog picture, and the black and white was very dramatic.

Linc said...

Next time Jim, don't say anything - that was just bad juju. More credit to David - he did the whole race without his top 2 gears due to a severely bent derailleur hanger! Thanks for the pictures.

Jim Wilson said...

Juju or experience? Last year, Nate crashed about the same place. Over- cooked the corner with two laps to go, and hit the curb. Going so fast he landed on top of the crenelated wall. Not a pretty scene, but xrays showed no fractures. Image:Jay Dawg helping Nate.