—Digression Coming Up!—
First, a tech treat:
Several readers have asked the Street Theorist about pics and vids. All the questions were the same: How in the hell do you get such unbelievable shots?
Without fooling anybody, I think that it is safe to say that I posses above average image-tracking capabilities. Besides my footwork and my stamina, I think a lot of my talent has to do with my equipment and my full understanding of my gear (I am a gearhead after all).
Well, here is my camera.
It is digital, of course—“bien sur” as they say in Canada! Can you believe I picked up this hi-tech rig in a bargain bin outside of Wolf Camera…with warranty (some clerk must have placed it there by accident).
And here is my video camera. I know it looks bulky, but it is deceptively lightweight and portable (probably because of all the stealth carbon).
As much as I love the HM, I think I am ready to step it up a notch. What I want is the new Samson Zoom Q3 Videocam.
If Zoom wants to sponsor this blog, then they should contact me quickly (I heard the Jonas Brothers Cutiepix line is about to hit the shelves).
—-Exit from Digression—
But this is really about racing, not photographing. Let’s get one thing straight, I am a racer and today, I am racing.
I warmed up on my trainer for a solid 30 minutes. Got the blood and sweat going pretty good. Then I pinned on the number and pedaled to the course. The men’s 40+ 50+ were still out on the course with one lap to go. I watched them strain by. When I heard that the race was over, I got onto the course, rode around corner four, and there, right on the corner, I saw two riders not only crashed, but still laying on top of a large rock (why is there a rock right there?). Almost like they were posing on the rock with painful smiles! They were moving, but scraped up for sure. Nice to see this as I roll up to the line.
When I get to the line I notice more chaos that usual. It seems a rider is down near the finish line. Everybody is squeezed to the side of the course to let emergency vehicles through. Very quiet.
I see an All-Nine-Yards rider and talk to him. Steve is an Iowan too, so of course we bond. He asks me if I saw what happened. No, I say. Then he drops the bomb: “do you know Dominic Moraniec? He rides for Atlas Cycling (based out of Iowa City).
Yes, I do know Dominic. Not personally, but I see him in all the regional races. Steve’s friend comes over in tears to tell us that his left shoulder is really banged up, but he is conscious. The ambulance leaves. And then, as crazy as this seems, the announcer calls my race to the line as if we are going to race even though we just saw what could come of racing! I wish Steve good luck and as the riders move forward, I move backward. The whistle blows and I look behind me: nobody. I am not only the last rider in the race of 110 riders, I am behind the last line. The caboose. Le lantern rouge.
After a few laps, I decide to, uh, practice the corners on my own. My mental game was so dismantled, so thoroughly crushed, that I could not mix it up. It’s not like I quit. Instead, it is more like I said to myself: under no circumstances can you pull out of the race and under no circumstances can you go down. So, in order to keep it rubber side up, I just twiddled at the back.
Now the back is not the best place to be if you want to finish a crit. Into each corner: brake hard. Out of each corner: sprint like the dickens. After 12 minutes of that, I was clobbered. So, I drifted off 6 feet, then 10 feet, then the elastic snaps.
I decided to work on my cornering skills until the refs pulled me…but they don’t pull me. After I figure that I have had enough corner practice, I hit the showers.
After the race, I felt a little flat:
I accomplished my goals: entered the race; no crashes. Called my buddy Dwight and we had dinner at the Slowest Restaurant In The World: Mama Campisi’s-On The Hill. Good food, great location, but it did take us a million and a half years to get served.
The food arrived in the middle of the men’s pro-1-2 race. The good thing about our location was that it was not on the finishing straight so we could not hear the crashes and we could not hear the booming announcer. Just the hum of the wheels zipping by.
Here’s another quick vid looking at Mama’s:
By the time the race ended, it was completely dark, the street lights were on, and Dwight and I had finished our food and wine.
It was a quiet end to a rough day for many racers.
1. Today, September 15, I talked to Dominic. He is now in the Burlington (Iowa) Hospital. Although his life was never in too much danger, he did lose a lot of blood right after the crash, and his left shoulder is going to take multiple surgeries to fix the broken bones (humerus, scapula) and reattach the muscles—and perhaps a year of rehab. I wish him a speedy recovery. I hope to see him at Jingle Cross in Iowa City in November—not on a bike though!
2. I met Adam Fuson, who is a racer from Cincinatti. He provided me with some fine bike racing philosophy. We were talking between races and I said that it was a miracle that more racers don’t crash in each race. He said, “no, that is completely the wrong way to think of crashing.” My summary of his crash philosophy: If you multiply the number of racers by the number of laps and the number of corners, you can actually see that most of the time nobody crashes. Even though racers could crash, they don’t always crash. Out of all the riders and possible places to crash, there are really very few crashes. Therefore, you should not focus on the few crashes at all, but on the moments of racing in which everything is going just fine. Crashing is an anomaly, a break in the smooth peacefulness of the criterium (okay this last sentence is all mine).
He is right. If I focus on the crashes, then I won’t ever race. If I focus on racing, then I might get faster.
3. When church got out at the quaint church right next to the finish line, the attendees got toasted ravs, beer, and then sat down at all the tables on the church patio and watched the race. How civilized. I took some fine pics, but closed my cell phone before saving them. I was using my HM camera up to this morning, but it ran out of battery juice.
4. Four riders from Liquigas were there to sign autographs and rub shoulders with all the Italian community in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. I got sweet pics of Franco Pellizoti! But, again, I closed my cell phone before I saved the shots. Doh!
5. Notice that I did not mention any race results. It was one of those days in which I was not into results. Anyway, check out www.gatewaycup.com if your really need that kind of stuff.
Stay Tuned for Part IV: Tour of Missouri; Or, How Not To Get An Autograph!