Lost River Classic 2010

The Dispanet climb starts mild.  A sharp turn over a bridge to a holler where an elevated meadow looms ahead.  The gentle pitch is short lived as it kicks up hard before you grasp the bite. Some how it is deceptively steep.  But only for a moment.

The road hits a plateau alongside a farmhouse whose porch borders the pavement.  After another rise and a red barn hugging the gutter there is a second plateau before the now steadily graded climb tops out near a small old graveyard with a rickety squared off fence and a sweeping view of the valley that was just left behind

All this happens in less than a mile.  During the Lost River Classic there was a tidy looking lemonade stand on the second plateau.  The local paper had encouraged spectators and offered the suggestion of youthful entrepreneurship.

The girls had it all set up.  Signs.  Colors.  An umbrella.  Maybe they got some help from Grandpa.  Not knowing what a race is, they must have expected some touring cyclists to pause and enjoy cold beverage but instead they got serious looking folk with pain face pushing forward on a quest through thresholds that only they can know and/or understand.  Not the stuff of whimsical lemonade stands.

I passed by too.  I guess maybe I could have stopped since I did my entire race solo.  Not off the front and not off the back.  No glory but no shame I suppose.  In the center.  The last man to separate from the lead 15 and out in front of the remaining chasers.

Toward the end I pulled back two who had succumbed to the heat to finish 13th.  Maybe I could have brought back some more as the conditions on a tough road race tend to shuffle and sort out in confusing ways.  I was feeling better later.  Perhaps a last man standing scenario (for top 10 that is).  It is hard to say and harder to know since officials were making executive decisions, shortening laps and pulling riders without any warning or reason beyond what I guess they deemed safety issues.

A week later none of this matters.  Things are business as usual in Mathias.  I had intended to some how support the lemonade operation so Audrey and I stopped by to give the girls some t-shirts.  The views on Dispanet are just as bright and the pitches are just as steep.   Even in the car.  One of the sisters is home.  She is surprised and excited with the t’s and I try to explain the race a little and also explain why maybe business wasn’t as lucrative as it could have been.  She listens.  It’s hard to tell what resonates.  How it could make sense that a bunch of adults would punish themselves by choice in a hundred degree heat.  Of course there are as many reasons as there are people but I just didn’t want her to be discouraged and I promised more biz next year.  She said ‘I don’t care I just want to make some money.’

Well that is simple enough to understand.

So it was established that next years stand should be at the Jenkins Chapel Finish line.  That is where the main action was anyway.  That is where Keck Baker, who was second in 09, got his redemption and topped his teammate Chuck Hutchinson and last years winner Nick Bax, in another brave performance.   And where Ainhoa Perez-Diez rode in victorious ahead of Amanda Watson and Heidi Goldberg in the woman’s elite contest.

That is where a bunch of other finish line dramas and triumphs played out. Through the woods to the meadow on the mountain.

Edition two was even better than edition one and maybe with local cooperation and more cyclist volunteer horsepower this thing can expand into an omnium.   I’m thinking Friday night uphill TT to the barn and flat crit or circuit race Sunday but so far that is mostly just in my head.  It remains to be seen.

Still the enthusiasm and willingness of folks to take a challenge is inspiring. The weekend was a blast and the NCVC operation deserves big thanks.   More specifically Scott Mabry for taking the promoters helm from 09’s captain and main initiator/instigator David Kirpatrick.   To Jason Trust for coordinating the huge and precise road guarding force.  To Micheal Laker and family for running a seamless registration table.  To club President Myron Lehtman for crossing, double crossing and triple crossing all the t’s.  To Lost River/DC denizen and newly minted cat 5 Scott Schwartz for jumping in the deep end. And lastly and mostly to my partner on the ground and in RTR Audrey Taucher for not only getting dragged into this mess but handling logistical, diplomatic and operational matters across the board and what she likes to think of as ‘behind the scenes’ but which are truly crucial and without which the LRC couldn’t really happen.

On the sponsors end a big shout out to Tammy, Bob and David at the Guest House. They ramped up their hospitality and this year besides the tasty Sat night buffet and party we had, a cooked personally by Mr Dillard himself, Sunday morning pancake breakfast before setting out on a big group ride. (ps. re ride, I promise more cohesion next time)

I think with a few more versions (and maybe some raw cross stuff – details to come) they will become cycling wise by osmosis.

We should also mention the Lost River General Store who were gracious enough to provide lunches for all the officials, as well as the citizens of Mathias and the Moorefield Examiner, who had some great pics and coverage (see pages 3 and 9).

Of course without the racers there is no race.  I’ve been racing for 17 years and yeah I would rather watch a tour stage or an NRC Crit over for instance a cat 4 slug fest, yet I am always impressed by the heart and intensity of competitors across all categories.  The grace and finesse may be acquired, come later or perhaps not come at all, but without starting the process that possibility is not even dreamed of.  It is a unique sport.  Some, or most of us may be weekend warriors, but the sacrifices and efforts to hit those marks are wide and involved.  It is a big sweep to make it happen and I’m glad to all of you raising the flag.

Race day photos courtesy of Natures Essence Photography.

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