Monday, April 28, 2008

Chickens In The Punchbowl

Yes, there were several Chickens cookin' in the Devil's Punchbowl on Saturday. And by "cooking" I mean roasting in the 95 plus degree heat and not necessarily kickin' ass. But, as everyone who's participated in this event knows, surviving and finishing the Punchbowl is by itself an accomplishment. All Chicken Ranchers who made the drive out to the high desert above the not-so-thriving metropolis of Pearblossom did in fact finish, get a great workout, dehydrate, suffer, have a blast and in the end place very respectably. With a full field of 50 in the Open 5's , Brett Harrison led the way with a 5th place finish, followed by Dan Rudd in 11th, and Brian Hershkowitz in 32nd.

With a field of seventy in the 45+4/5's, Eric Knight posted a 25th place finish, followed by Gene Raphaelian in 34th and Rick Martz in 38th in his first ever RR (you know how to pick 'em, Rick!). We didn't notice any others Chicken Ranchers so if I missed someone I apologize.

In the first race, things got started before the race even began. On the drive out in the morning we watched the temperature climb from 68 degrees in SB to the 85 at Fillmore. At this point we stopped looking. When we arrived and went for our not very necessary "warm up ride" we noticed that Brian was spinin' & sweatin' it out on his trainer which was strategically positioned straddling the San Andreas fault (really). On the way back in from our warm up ride Brian was still rollin' & shakin' on his trainer. I don't know about you Brett, but there's a chance that Brian may have over-done his warm up. The race itself got off to an interesting start in that the threats of the Starter to DQ anyone who even as much as looked at the center-line were well heeded. Read this to mean that at the beginning of the first 4 mile climb several riders were literally pushin' there way to the right shoulder. The sounds of of wheels touching was enough motivation to slip out of the pack and move up front which turned out to be a well timed move as three riders jumped on the last step before the road turned right for the last mile of the climb breaking the group up in two. While I certainly was under some stress, Brett and I made it over the top as part of the lead pack which hit the rollers hard before reaching the long descent. I moved up to third wheel and kept having to tap my brakes and decided to instead move outside and see how it felt in the wind. Next thing I knew I was in front, feeling fast and comfortable. I was having a great time and approached the right turn onto Tejon Road, but much to my surprise the CHP manning the intersection started waving me/us through as though not to take the right. I hesitated a second and a guy blew by me and through the intersection and I followed. Of course, the rest of the pack swept right through the turn in the correct direction. It was at this very moment that I heard Brett's fading voice yelling "DAAANNNN" and the CHP swear "Oh Sh-t!". After a quick brake, U-turn and what was now a left onto Tejon Road I was in full-on chase mode. I think I may have panicked a little and over-extended catching back up to the group. Once I re-connected Brett was kind enough to say "hey, don't worry about it. You're back". But all I could think about at the time was "please, no one attack on the step up ahead. I need just a few seconds to recover". No sooner did the guys at the front stand up and accelerate. I told Brett to "go" and I faded away from the lead group. I did recover and felt that I finished strong picking off close to another dozen riders over the second half. In the end the, blowing through the turn wasn't the difference for me as I could tell on the first climb that I didn't feel light and have the legs on Saturday. All in all it was a great time and experience that offered many valuable lessons and many fond memories. Looking forward to the next one, but in the meantime I need some water...

Dan Rudd

1 comment:

Greg Knowles said...

Dan, those wrong turns never end up being good. You may want to consult with Ramirez, he has been known to cut a mountain bike course and have it end up in his favor. ;o) I'm just checking to see if Robert is listening.