Racers... Do you have a few options for the DLR coming up this weekend? Have you got Masters, 3’s, 123’s fields available to you? Before deciding, be sure to check the payouts, registration fees, and most importantly… check that pre-reg list and find out who you will be racing… it’s mostly correct.
Promoters really can have fun with this... .Have you got a number in mind that you need to reach to break even? You should worry, because while the DORR almost always rewards you with ample Day-of registrants to push you over the top, one cold or rainy day could sink you faster than the Edmund Fitzgerald.
This past weekend at Putney I got caught staring into the sun that is the pre-reg list for Putney. Elites (2:30 pm, cost: $30, pays $500 seven spots deep, ROP had me around 4th) or Master’s 35+ (11:00 am, cost: $25, pays $135 five spots deep, ROP has me around 3rd)? I was sure that the DORR wheel would land on Jeff Molongoski and Eric Gutbier for the 35+ field, perhaps Toby Wells and Al Donahue for the Elites. Oh the pressure!
In the end, the decision was easy. I raced the 35s because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tailgate for 3+ hours afterwards. The fact that I had beaten the two guys that were predicted to finish ahead of me the weekend prior helped too.
So I hedged my bets and sure enough, Molongoski shows up. He’s 45+ now though, maybe he’s doing that group. In a word, no. Frantically scanning the parking lot for other DORRer’s I spot a guy in a spiffy Cannondale team kit. That’s none other than Johs Huseby! Sweet!
I started on the left side and at the whistle Johs comes through me bumping and grinding like a teenager on roofies and I settle in around 8th wheel. Johs and Jeff M. were doing all of the work up front, and the only difficult parts were catching back on after the log run and barriers during the first lap. I think the whole field came to the run together… it certainly sounded like it behind me.
First time up that hill and Johs schools us on how to run. He had 10 bikes by the top and we darted across the gap. These little efforts came easier to some than others, and I jumped across when I had to to stay on. Still, through three entire laps the lead group had whittled all the way down to… at least 10 guys. Including ***. That gives you an idea.
Sheldon Miller (the pre-race ROP favorite) mentioned that there was a lot of looking around going on (which was fine with me) just as Steve Roszko rolls up and animates things a little bit. Nothing really came of that, but I think it woke people up because we started to go just a bit faster and after the 4th lap the group was down to 6 with Johs, Jeff, Sheldon, myself, Stephan Marcoux and Dave Connery gapping the others.
Here's Stephan folloging my PRO line off the dirt and in the grass. photo courtesy of eyebob
During that lap Connery takes off, and someone says “pay no mind to him, he’s not a threat.” Ouch. Worse that he said that or that I’m repeating that here for everyone to see?
Sure enough Dave was back and finally someone other than Johs leads into the run, meaning there was no mad sprint at the top. Two to go.
Sheldon hit the gas at the top of the run and I was able to stick with him pretty well. I thought for sure that Johs or Jeff would try and come around me to get better positioned for the turns at the top part of the course, but they did not, and when Sheldon rode the log hill I followed. He punched it towards the parking lot and I gave chase, airing it out in spectacular fashion over the jumps behind the shop. We caught him after the downhill but he never slowed down. Looking back it was only Jeff and I that had made it. One of us should have gotten in front but we didn’t, and Miller never slowed down. He scampered up the run and attacked again, forcing us to chase. Same thing on the logs. He kept finding strength to go hard all around the course. We would catch, he would go.
After negotiating some lapped riders we were on his wheel with a half a lap to go but he got a small gap on the barriers and kept the heat on. Jeff was chasing but this time we weren’t making up ground, so Jeff sat up. I should have done the same and let Jeff lead me down the road to the run and then passed him just before but I didn’t… I wanted to try and make the bridge to Sheldon and didn’t want to get caught by anyone behind. I drove to the hill and Jeff came around at the base. He held me off at the top and took second by three bikes with Sheldon winning 10 lengths ahead.
So the ROP had me in 3rd but Marcoux was replaced with Molongoski. Huseby ended up 4th, which was a shock to me. I’m pleased that I earned my entry fee back and was able to race with Molongoski, who I haven’t been able to stay with for the past few years, including last year at this very race. It was all pretty easy too… like other races this season I’m working hard (well, for the second half of this one at least) but am not totally blown at the end.
Apres-ride Jim Airgood and his wife Gwen brought chili, cornbread, pulled pork, and ribe. I had all of it… and a few cups of Opa Opa Octoberfest as well. We fed the 3/4 field cookies and the elites beer. We were worried a bit about what the USAC official (who was standing right there during the feeds) would think of these shenanigans but he was very cool indeed. He was even cheering on racers that were taking the hand ups. Someone accidentally chucked a cup right at him, but he thought the whole thing was great and even told stories about it to the other officials. Questionable move right there.
As stated the best part of the day was getting to spend a few hours with Chip and Dave driving up to VT. Chip had his best race of the year and Dave took second over Keith Gauvin… a friend of mine from Master’s racing and…. another DORR entrant.
Damn that day of registration!!!