Saturday, March 10, 2012

Walburg/Pace Bend 2/25-2/26

Hey all you Comanchers and Comanchettes,

Welcome to this addition of Comanche Racing's Race Report Blog.  This week we have a jam packed story of mystery, explosions, excitement and intrigue for you.  We have a lot to cover so let us move along.


None of us went.  We heard it sucked balls.  A lot of them.

Pace Bend:

It was a warm Sunday morning (something we haven't experienced for racing as of yet this year) and Comanche Racing was on a mission.  This expedition was our largest yet.  The brothers involved were as follows (in no particular order or relevance):  Jordan "bear in the bag" Parker, Devin "papa bear" Parker, Robert "old bear" Trent, Derek "little bear" Alvarado, Ben "bear bear" Cukerbaum, Paul "berserker bear" Carty and (myself) Luke "blog bear" Kalloch.  Unfortunately, Alex "barf bear" Vogt could not make it to the race because the night before was his 21st birthday and he had much celebrating to do in San Marcos (on a cross dressing pub crawl [which he probably won]).  Ash "bear down under" Duban will not be attending races for a while because of a secret mission she is on in Australia for Comanche Racing (we  have scouts everywhere).

With a full tribe, we were ready to go and dominate the cat 4 race.

Our goal was to put Derek over the finish line before everyone else after the 36 mile race.  To help achieve this goal I will now introduce to you the newest addition to the Comanche Racing Race Report: the helmet cam video (sorry, we haven't come up with a catchy name yet).  Derek purchased himself a nice little helmet cam to wear during the races so our loving fans could see us (and believe with their own eyes) take the scalps of our enemies left and right.  The proof (as they say)... is in the pudding.
Derek even provides a nice commentary on the whole thing!  Watch our sexy asses.

To our (and your) dismay, the footage only covers the first lap of the race (damn technology!) so you'll just have to wade through my rambles that chronicle the rest of it. 

Side note:  by not means will these videos keep me from lengthy blog post.  I will push to lengthen modern attention spans until I die.

As is mentioned in the video, the pace was kept high throughout the entire race.  Time and time again we would relieve each other of drilling at the front so that we could rest.  The field slowly started to dwindle.  The rolling hills and break-neck speeds were take their toll on all the racers.  You could tell that the people who were still in the race were starting to get weary and careless (going up one of the hills I heard [and felt] someone rub up against my back wheel multiple times [I found out at the end of the race that it was Derek]).  But we pedaled on, hoping that we could cut the field down even more.

We weren't doing this just to be assholes, oh no.  The coarse at Pace Bend had to be changed this year for some reasons and the final sprint was going to be a sketchy one.  It included a 90 degree turn and then a downhill straightaway that lead to the finish.  Imagine a group of 85 cyclists trying to gain position in such a situation.  The results would be gruesome at best.  I'd say it would look something like this:
...and how. (thank Google Image Search for "Gruesome Cyclist")

The final lap came and we were in good position but even your favorite cyclists of Comanche Racing were starting to get tired.  The Brothers Parker had down their job telling the pack what was what (Devin: "Oh yeah, go ahead and chase your teammate who his up the road in that breakaway.  Sounds like a great idea." Jordan [going into the final lap]: "Oh, so NOW you come up to the front after we haven't seen you all race!  Come on!  Lets do this!") and everyone was doing their best to put Derek into position. 

At about the two mile mark I watch Paul "pull bear" Carty shoot off the front with Derek on his wheel.  Apparently, Derek was driving him like mule (a really fast mule), telling him which way to go, whether to speed up or slow down.  They established a pretty good gap for a little while but the pack was hungry for the sprint and started close that gap.

I made my way to the front of the group so that I could help out whenever the moment came.  The 90 degree turn into the finish straightaway was in sight now and Paul and Derek were still in the front.  As they rounded the corner I saw exactly what I didn't want to see.  Derek tried to pull past Paul on the left side (which was the edge of the road) while Paul probably thought he was going to pass him on the right side (which had more road to work with).  This slowed Derek to a snails pace and also boxed him in as the peloton

We crossed the finish I counted the people who were infront of me.  Seven.  I rolled up next to Derek and asked him how many were infront of him.  Three.  We were close.  The best teamwork to date.

At the end of the day Derek took 4th place, I took 8th and Ben took 10th.  The rest of the guys did a great job keeping the pace high for the entire race by being at the front but didn't have the position for the sprint.   But we achieved (or almost did) what we wanted as a team: get Derek the top position.  We had also cut the field down from 85 starters to 43 finishers (with the help of some other racers as well).  We met up with Derek's family (who just happened to be in town, whodathunkit?) and went to Angel's for lunch (also to use their restrooms... there were only four port-a-potties at the race... for 500 people... two words: shit mountain... whodathunkit?) after the race for a celebratory beer and burger.  From the sounds of the place there could have been a lap-dance involved too but... alas.

To sum up the race I will leave you with another addition to the blog.  This is a contribution from Jordan "in the bag" Parker called, "In the Bag".  

You're welcome.

As always, thanks to our sponsors Frank (home of the Comanchachino), Nelo's (lair of the famous Nelo himself), Thunderbird Energetica (emporium of energetic treats) and Dominican Joe (hangout where the coffee is hot but the baristas are hotter).  Also, our greatest sympathies to fellow warrior, Patrick Hallett, who was involved in a wreck during the race.  Rest up and heal quickly.  As always please send your complains and grievances here.  Thanks again!

Monday, February 20, 2012

University Oaks Feb. 12th

My 5am alarm was still a rude awakening.  Even the extensive mental preparation four hours prior, my screaming alarm still couldn't rouse me to greet the frigid temperature that waited outside of the covers.  65 degrees in the house.  28 degrees outside of the house.  It took a considerable amount of will power to get out of bed and dress myself.  I had even put my kit near the heating vent and packed all of my race/post-race needs in my messenger bag in an attempt to expedite the waking up process.  I had also done this to provide myself the maximum amount of sleep (knowing myself well enough, this also included at least 15 minutes of snoozing).  I left just enough time (at least 5 minutes) to get dressed and jump in the pick-up car that was set to rendezvous at my house at 5:20am.

I looked out the window to the look of a mild winter day in a state like Maine (my home state) and, to my dismay (and surprise), the headlights of a car idling in the driveway.  I gathered my necessary equipment, threw the Bromancer in the back of the white Ford Focus (hatchback) and we were ready to go.  We slowly pulled out of my driveway (careful to not hit any slow moving crack heads) and turned our sights south towards the northwest corner of San Antone, where Comanche Racing was ready to throw down in the first run of the University Oaks Crit Series.

I don't remember much of the ride down there for I apparently pass out as soon as I sat down in the back seat.  I image there were many antics being had in the front seats from the Brothers Parker (Devin "where's my embro?" Parker and Jordan "Pierre" Parker) that I missed.  I'm also mildly astonished that I made it out of the situation without any Magic Marker (TM) dicks tastefully (we can only hope) drawn all over my body.  The next thing I remember was waking up to a strange vibration emanating from my pants.  Startled at first from what I thought was a Parker Bros (Inc.) prank, turned out to be our teammate (Alex "Shake that Thang" Vogt) calling.  He had somehow become severely lost trying to get to the crit and needed directions.  I was severely out of it (and somehow aroused) and had no idea where I was or where Devin and Jordan were.  I stalled for a minute, trying to conceal my panic, until Devin returned to the car to give Alex directions from what was unfortunately the opposite side of town.

The directions were given and 15 minutes later we met up with our other teammates at University Oaks.  The temperature had risen a whopping four degrees since we left Austin (that's 32 degrees, folks [0 degrees Celsius for our European readers]) so to maintain a level of comfort while standing in the pre-reg line, we huddled together like a herd of penguins to capture our combined body warmth.  With race numbers in hand, we made our way back to the cars for the always perilous pinning ritual.

To keep a state of equilibrium, we tried not to spend too much time pinning our numbers in the warm of our team cars.  We jumped on our fair steeds as soon as we could and started to warm up and learn the unknown terrain.  The layout was simple: a long false flat straight-away (with a stiff headwind) on the backside of the course, another long straightaway (with a fierce tail wind) on the front side of the course where the start/finish was, a couple potholes (to make things interesting), four turns and two short sections to connect it all together.  We rolled around the course together and got to know intricacies (or lack there of) of it.

Everyone took their place at the staging area.  It was apparent that everyone wanted the race to get going because as soon as the final head count was taken the official yelled, "Riders ready?"  Before anyone could answer, the start whistle had been blown and every man frantically clambered to slip in and start their pedaling.

The general movement of the race went as such:  slowing way down on the turns and the backside and then hauling a lot of ass when the tailwind was to be had.  There were random attacks that proved to be quite futile when the assailant came face to face with Ol' Man Gail  who had taken up residence on the backside of the course.  Time after time, riders yielded to the crotchety old fellow and took their place back in the pack to lick their wounded pride and rest their burning thighs.

Sir Paul "Pull" Carty snagged the first of the three primes and Jordan made an earnest attempt at the second but had it snatched away from him at the last moment.  It was after this that the race got interesting. Derek "just because these guns are small don't mean they won't kill you" Alvarado pulled up next to me and (in his usual manner) commanded me to get on his wheel so he could pull me up for the next prime.  I obliged and jumped on.  We came around the final corner towards the start/finish and started to motor (as they say).  We created a big enough gap between us and the field so that we knew the prime was ours.  I pulled around Derek as he shouted, "Don't worry, we've got a gap.  You've got this... (a beat) if Devin doesn't catch you first!"  I allowed myself to exhale a quick laugh at what I thought was Derek gibing me.  Then I took a look back...

peloton still half a block behind.

We were at five laps to go and Devin was out there by himself.  I'm sure everyone in the peloton though Ol' Man Gale (that angry man) would cut him down within the lap.  That lap past and he was still out there.  Four laps to go he was still far away.  Three laps to go he kept the gap.  With two laps to go the people around us started to panic and speed up to catch the stampeding creature ahead.  The four of us left in the group did our best to slow down the pack and pull in whatever feeble bridging attempts that were being made.  The final lap was upon us and Devin's gap was growing smaller as the chase gained speed and people fought for position coming up to the final sprint.  Devin was within reach as the hungry pack made their final attempt to swallow him.  But it wasn't enough.  Our Comanche warrior rolled over the finish unscathed at a comfortable distance.  Sir Carty took 3rd, I took 6th, Jordan took 14th and Derek rounded out the top 20 with 17th place.

After a congratulatory lap, we rolled up to the start/finish to find Alex "lost on a highway in Texas" Vogt waiting for us at the cars garbed in a vintage Look wind-breaker.  He had made it five minutes after the start of the race and had posted up near corner four to provide us with encouragement and appropriate heckling.  There was another race between the end of ours and the start of the 3/4 race so instead of rolling out the beach towels we crammed ourselves into our perspective vehicles to take in the sweet sweet  heat.

No Homo.

With new numbers pinned and spirits high, we emerged from the warm womb of Paul's Volvo (yes, Volvo, you pervs) ready to do battle in the 3/4 race.  The conditions hadn't changed except there were some ominous clouds floating our way.  This was but a trifle in the minds of the hard men who had made it to the 3/4 staging that morning.  They wanted to wreck shop.  With another hasty head count and a shrill whistle, the race was on its way with a full Comanche line-up.

The race started fast and within the first three laps the whole field was strung out.  These were perfect conditions for a breakaway (brought to our attention by team strategist, Derek).  We were all sitting mid-pack so we needed to make a move and take our rightful place in the front.

It was too late though.  Four riders had gone off the front and were gaining ground at a considerable pace.  Unlike a solo rider in the wind, these four hauses could easily hold the break if we didn't real them in quickly.  The peloton had to work together and (from what I could tell) none of the guys in the break had teammates in the field.  It should have been easy to catch them, right?

There we were.  Comanche riders taking turns drilling at the front.  Trying to keep the pace of the pack high so we could catch the speeding breakaway.  One of the riders in the break even popped out the back because if the crazy pace they were keeping.  At one point, Ol' Man Gale, angered by his yielding to Devin and now the unquestionable strength of the breakaway, started to spit little drops of ice at us (or freezing rain, as we like to call it back east) to try and slow us down.  Even with stinging faces, we kept pushing. The breakaway got so close you could smell the sweat running down their backs.  But when it came time to go in for the kill, there was not a single rider in the field willing to take a pull.  Not  even the unstoppable "Pull" Carty had enough power to close the gap.  We tried to keep the pace up but all in vain.  A couple of other riders would take the front but only pull for a short time.  Not enough time for your favorite Comanche racers to recover.

As the power left my legs I watch the breakaway get further and further away.  Five laps.  Four laps. Three laps.  No progress.  In the final lap nothing could be done but try to get in a good position for the sprint (or in my case, find a good wheel to pull my tired ass).  In true Comanche style, as we crossed the start/finish going into the final lap, Jordan "not going to take this sitting down" Parker jumped off the front, sacrificing himself to put that extra pain in every riders quads.  Well done, sir.

In the final sprint, my legs were sufficiently spent.  I was in terrible position and all I could do was concentrate and try to steal a couple of positions.  Just as we came to the finish line, I could hear a voice whisper in my ear, "I'm sorry, Luke" as Alex passed me at the finish by inches. 
Dick move. (More Pics here)

Only kind of pissed, we rolled in to give on congratulations to the winners of the race.  One of which was a former Comanche tribesmen (Colin Strickland).  Go, Colin!  All in all, we had a couple of good races and we pulled in some great results.  But we were cold, tired and wanted to go home.

The drive home was a repeat of the ride to the race.  Within the first five minutes (after burritos, of course) I was out like the prom queen on prom night.  Again, missing the hilarious antics of the Brothers Parker.  When my eyelids lifted I was somehow completely naked. Standing in a hot shower.  Furiously scrubbing the Magic Maker (TM) dicks so beautifully drawn all over my body.

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors Frank (for putting up with smelly/handsome men), Nelo's (for shared use of the party tent with Ghissallo Racing), Dominican Joe (for being awesome) and Thunderbird Energetica (spiritual guidance).  For more Comanche Racing antics and full frontal nudity pictures, "Like" us on Facebook.  Thanks for reading!  Up next, Pace Bend!
Luke J. Kalloch Esq.
(complains?  comments? questions? literary critiques? send me an e-mail!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tour of New Braunfels Jan. 28-29th

Greetings and salutations fellow tribesmen of the road!  Welcome back to back to the Comanche Racing Race Report Blog (CRRRB [it's clever, I know]).  It's been a long off season of epically slow rides, fading tan lines, dark beers, cyclocross and kit designing for all of our brethren but Comanche Racing is ready to come out from our winter encampments to proudly venture forth into battle as the Texas Road Race Season begins!  Our enemies thighs will throb in pain as they stare in awe at our cultivated tan-lines, unbreakable pace lines and chic kit designs.  Needless to say, Comanche Racing is ready to lay down the tomahawk this season and take some scalps.

That is... after our first weekend of racing for the season at the Tour of New Braunfels (to work out all the kinks).  The epic journey goes as such:

Day 1: Tour of New Braunfels (om[g!]Loop)

We arrived at the at Canyon Lake (sufficiently caffeinated and full of sweats thanks to our fine sponsor, Dominican Joe) to the usual scene for a bike race:  lack of parking (because, yes, one  has to take up a whole parking spot to up one's trainer), mean mugging racers and endless lines into the porta-potties.  After finding a spot among line of cars (probably illegally), we fine Comanches unpacked and made our way to registration to collect our race numbers for the weekend.  As always, this process took longer than expected for many reasons:  stopping to oggle bikes, chat with friends, mean mugging (some more) old enemies and find race numbers that had already been lost (only five minutes after acquiring them).  But it was mostly because the registration was (what seems like) 8 miles away from the parking.

Commence pre-race rituals.  First on the list: pinning of the numbers.  Always a fun task and also mildly demoralizing.  At first, everyone is hell bend on putting on their own numbers.  But after employing all the different tactics of number pinning (pinning the numbers with jersey off of the body [which usually ends in a crumpled mess {not pro}], pinning the numbers with jersey on the body [usually ending with blood and gore or the racer looking silly in awkward karma sutra like positions {only kind of pro for showing off your flexibility}] etc etc), the racer eventually resigns to letting a team mate pin him.  Next we have the warming up of the legs.  Nothing too exciting here.  Just more racers giving everyone the stink eye.  Maybe doing some final adjustments to one's seat angle or height.  Maybe even taking that last spacer out from  under the stem and slamming it (like it should be).  For the members of Comanche Racing this was not necessary for the majority of us had had the pleasure of a professional fit by Mr. Nelo Breda (of Nelo's Cycle, another one of our spectacular sponsors).  All warmed up and comfortable, the Comanche tribesmen (Alex "the youngin'" Vogt, Derek "you wouldn't believe my wattage" Alvarado, Paul "Pull" Carty and your reporter) were ready to venture forth into battle.

Rolling up to the staging area of the Om(g!)Loop, one already felt a nervous air around the riders.  First race of the season.  How would everyone stack up against each other?  Had their winter training been too lax? When would someone make a move?  When should I make my move? Do my legs look alright?  As all of these questions (all legitimate) were running through each racer's mind, (tweeeeeeet!) that familiar screech of start whistle pierced the air.  With a re-affirming 'kuh-klunk' of engaging cleats, the race was officially started.

After a climb and a decent the tension started to let up as all the riders started to loosen their legs.  Tense grimaces started to ease into tentative smiles as memories of happiness and pleasure of last years race seasons started to slowly crawl back into their consciousness.  Conversations started to sprout from the anxious soil that Winter had packed into everyone's mouths.  Riding bikes could be fun.  Racing bikes could be exciting!

The situation changed (as it always does) in a matter of seconds when our foursome of Comanches were torn apart by an unfortunate circumstance.  It appears to your reporter that evil spirits were amiss that day for the scene was one of queer explanation.  Quite frankly, the laws of physics seemed to have disappeared.  Either way, the story (as compiled by multiple sources) goes as follows:

(note to reader: please  insert punctuation in this next paragraph as to accommodate your reading style)

On the second small descent one fine fellow felt the need to run into another fine fellow who in turn  dropped his drivetrain chain (but continued to pedal) which cause the chain dropping gentleman to lose control of his bicycular device and swerve in the direction of your reporter who's brain promptly kicked into disaster mode as wrecking fellow somehow dismounted his bicycle and rolled of the road into the bushes leaving his two wheeled machine riding as if it still had a jockey on it at which point your reporter tried to slip through the hole between said dismounted rider and the out of control bike when the machine struck a bump and stopped its forward motion and decided to place itself perpendicularly in front of one Comanche rider (yours truly) while trying to get (for lack of a better phrase) the "hole shot" which quickly closed and caused a clash between man and bicycle and bicycle and man of epic proportions.

So, the story ends with two Comanches (Paul "Pull" Carty was also affected by this) scrambling to make sure their steeds were in good condition while watching the pack slowly ride away.  With everything in check Paul and your reporter remounted in an attempt to catch the pack.   While working together to catch the peloton, a very strange sticky feeling started to overtake the left hand of this Comanche warrior.  Upon further examination, it was revealed that said left hand was covered in a very this red substance which seemed to be flowing from multiple lacerations.
The Gore (after a pro medic cleaning [just poring water over it])

WOUNDED.  The word had to be pushed from the mind.  It could not stop this man from catching the group ahead.  And it did not, even after looking behind at the shaking head and shrinking figure of Paul while attacking a climb.  It is always a hard decision to make... but the answer was clear  but unspoken between the two.  So, the farewell was made.

After a hard lap of catching up, the tree Comanches were re-united with much rejoicing.  But victory was not yet at hand.  More work had to be done.  As the pace started to hasten, we took our place at the front of the pack (where we are most comfortable) and started to drill.  After a few attempts of trying to make a break, we submitted to being read back in to the pack.  Satisfied that enough pain had been brought on our fellow riders, we settled in to the group to recover.

We moved into formation as we approached the finish line with one lap to go, read to make our final attack on the field and roll over the finish line to take our victory.  There was only one problem... there was not one more lap to go.  When we started to move up from mid-pack a startling thing happened.  The pace started to pick up and as we got closer to the line the figures in the front got out of their saddles and started to sway back and forth in a very sprint-like fashion.  There we were.  Stuck mid-pack during the sprint.

Rolling over the finish brought a very colorful array of choice words and an overwhelming sense of disappointment started to set in on your valiant warriors (Derek skillfully pulled in a top 15 but the rest were not so lucky).  How could such a stupid mistake have been made?  Allergies?  Blood loss?  Stupidity (pure and simple)?  Did my legs not look good enough?  Whatever the reason was, the desired result was not achieved for the amount of work that was done (and no one felt the need to vomit afterward [the first sign of failure {unless one wins}]).  Luckily, Comanche had the next day to redeem themselves.
You should have seen the other guy.

Day 2: Tour of New Braunfels (the Grand Prix)

A 3.5 hour emergency room wait, three stitches, four showers 248,392 calories consumed and an adequate sleep (6h 43m 7s) later, the Comanche Warriors were read to partake in the second day of battle.  This time with clear heads and a will to win.

With an earlier start time it was much easier to find a parking spot (and also the fact that the designated parking area was a massive mall parking lot).  Another perk of an early start is that you get to hit the porta-potties first.  All of them clean and well stocked with plenty of toilet paper, ready to be destroyed by throngs of cycling trying to lighten their load before racing.  Such a strange feeling of satisfaction can be had being the first to defile such an innocent thing... but we digress.

The mood was definitely different on this second day.  The first day's race had been riddled with nerves and unanswered questions.  The staging area for the Cat 4 race that Sunday was only filled with impatient men.  Limbs were quivering from the chill of the morning, not from nerves.  All thought was bent on willing the officials to blow the whistle so that we could at least move and start to warm up our muscles again (all that spinning for naught!).

20 minutes after the scheduled start time, racer's prayers were finally answered and the neutral roll out commenced.  For the first mill we were brothers in arms, slowly pedaling our way to the battle field known as the "Grand Prix" loop.   Rolling past the where the finish would be, every eye examined the road very carefully.  The "center line" rule was to be in effect for the entire race so the sprint for the finish had to be carefully executed or things would get a bit hairy.  Riders would either have to be at the front of the pack or know the hazardous areas to avoid while they tried to make their way up through the pack during the sprint without going too bar over and be disqualified.  Scary stuff.

The peloton rounded the corner into the loop and the race began.  A narrow road teaming with cracks, washed out pavement, rolling hills and will breaking headwinds were what your favorite Comanche warriors had to combat.  But after cresting the first hill, we grouped up and made our way forward up the right side of the roadway (avoiding all aforementioned obstacles with ease) in an attempt to gain control of the front.  An attempt that proved successful as we rolled into one of the major turns.  Ready to take scalps.

We came barreling through the corner with flawless form when yet another unfortunate event occurred.  The mishap wasn't caused by mischievous spirits' but purely by the overwhelming strength of this Comanche's  legs.  With a simple down stroke, the structural integrity of one's steed (the aptly coined, "Bromancer") was put to the test and the drive train chain was rendered in half.  For the second time in two days, your reporter watched the race speed away.  This time unable to follow in hot pursuit.

(Side note: This report has been informed by Team Wooly Mammoth war chief, Patrizio "Hot Tradition" Newellette, that the only material that can be used to tame the Great Spirit's strength in all of our Comanche legs is kuutsuu [buffalo] bone.  Somehow, it is cheaper than a Campagnolo Super Record Chain.)

Upon examination, the horrid reality became very clear and in a fit of rage the now serpent-like chain was flung from the roadside.  It landed deep in a foreign field to spread its poison elsewhere.  A long walk was in order to get back to back to the finish line but fortunately (after being passed by many follow vehicles) the kind truck bearing the spare wheels for the Cat 4 ladies race allowed a disgraced warrior to hitch a ride in its bed.

(Second side note: the rest of the race at this point is hear-say.  Some of the details may be overly dramatized or outright fabricated)

With one comrade now fallen, the three remaining Comanches (Paul, Alex and Derek) had to keep their heads clear (despite such a disaster).  So, with a few deep breathes, the brethren tucked in and readied themselves for the long road ahead.  With the agility of cheetahs now in them, they road the twistinig pavement like they had ridden it for a millenia.  They dodged every obstacle and every evil spirit  bent on thwarting their plans.  Their cunning proved to be too powerful for such feeble foes and with much patience they waited for the right time to pounce.

The moment came and with the precision and speed of a laser Paul "Pull" Carty attacked,  immediately creating a gap between himself and the peloton.  He could do nothing but depend on his superior strength and natural aerodynamics of his body to help him through the "stiff" head wind.  For minutes his hammer-like legs pummeled at his pedals as he prayed for the gap to widen between him and the pack.  With a sigh of dismay, he noticed a shadow come creeping up from behind him.  With the assumption he had been caught, Paul sat up with as deep a breath as he could muster, ready to accept his defeat.  But when he turned around, to his surprise and extreme pleasure, he found that is was only a lonely 787 racer who had bridge up to him.  Someone to work with at least....

Meanwhile, back in the peloton, quick decisions had to be made by Alex and Derek as they watched Paul pull steadily away.  With a provocative wiggle of his rump, Alex had the riders around him entranced.  Almost making them completely forget about the breakaway up the road.  Unfortunately, this only worked for a short time but just enough time for Derek to jump to the front and feign a bridging attempt.  It was only a matter of time before riders caught on to this scheme as they started shouting out, "Stop blocking!"  With a smirk of satisfaction, Derek continued his soft pedaling routine until riders decided to act on their words and continue the chase.

Back up the road, the two riders of the break had entered into the final lap of the race and were deep in the darkness of the "pain cave."  At this point, both riders had given their all but couldn't make any more of a gap.  Mind weary and legs fatigued, the 787 rider sat up (to Paul disappointment).  He could either continue by himself and hope his legs could carry him over the finish line or save them for the sprint.  Paul weighed these options in his delirious mind, eye darting back and forth as if taking advice from an imaginary angel and demon perched on each shoulder (or were they?).  Resolute on his decision, Paul also sat up.

The break had now been swallowed back up into the stomach of the peloton and the race came to a painfully slow pace.  Every warrior waiting for the next move to be made with the miles slowly ticking down.  Whether it was from boredom or a sudden need to berserk (we'll never know), Derek shot off the front in his own attempt to break from the pack.  The chase lasted for a few miles but was soon reeled back in by the tired pack of riders.  Fortunately, this kept Derek near the front as the finish line came into view.

At the line, your reporter stood squinting into the bright sunlight trying to catch a glimpse of the pack.  Race after race had rolled over the finish line but non of them held any Comanches.  Winners were made and spirits were broken over and over again.  But when would Comanche Racing's fate be decided?  Today?  Tomorrow?  The next century? (It could have been all the walking or the throbbing stitches in the hand but this patience was being tested.)

It turns out that the Gods were kind and a large group of riders came lumbering around the final corner.  It was the largest group to come in through the finish and possibly the most treacherous.  Remember, the center line rule was in effect for the ENTIRE race.  This included the finish line where, traditionally, the full road is opened up at the 200 meter mark.  Position was everything in this final half mile.

Spectators watched as figures shot out the back like dying sparks as the rocket-like peloton came burning towards the finish line.  Eyes strained to see if "their guy" was in the front.  To the delight of all the Comanche fans, Derek Alvarado pushed at the head of the packing, holding steady behind the first three riders to pass over the finish line.
 It's official!  Go Derek!

Thus ends the saga of the Tour of New Braunfels. And let it be written that Comanche Racing took 4th (Derek), 14th (Paul) and 18th (Alex) places.  All of the hard work and training over the winter would not have been possible if not for our spectacular sponsors Frank (suppliers of delicious coffee and artisan sausages), Dominican Joe (caffeine purveyors and changers of the world), Nelo's Cycles (pro advisers and keepers of massive dogs) and Thunderbird Energetica (spiritual guidance and energy sweethearts).

Thanks for reading.  Look forward to more race reports in the coming months.  To keep up with Comanche antics feel free to "Like" us on the Facebook.  Farewell, for now.  I'll leave you with this sexy little picture.   

-Luke J. Kalloch Esq.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NACCC (North American Cycle Courier Championships) Oct. 7-9th

Salutations brave brethren of the road!

Welcome to the Comanche Racing "race summary" blogger or whatever the devil they call this sort of thing.  In an effort to try and catalog how many scalps that our tribe has taken (and will be taking), we've decided to keep up this "blog".  Its new.  Its scary. And personally, I don't trust this crazy demon contraption.  I'm willing to let it pilfer my thoughts and let them float around the "world wide web" with all of the other poor souls.  Luckily, my mind is very small and the capacity memory storage is very limited so we're going to start with the most recent events that are fresh up in this ol' gourd.  We'll start with the North American Cycle Courier Championships (which will from this point forward be abbreviated as NACCC).

Since we human crawled out of the primordial ooze, we have always been in need of a few a essential things: water, food, sexual intercourse, a good pair of shoes (so my mom says) and (most importantly) bicycle couriers.  With such an intense need for such dual wheeled warriors, its only natural that a sense of competition would develop among the tribes.  Who is the most clever?  Who is the fastest?  Who can do this with the most intense hangover?  So, in an effort to satiate this overwhelming sense of ambition on the bike, the Gods create the annual competition known as the NACCC.  This year courier berserkers from around country followed the stars alignment to the sacred grounds of our Comanche tribe: Austin, TX.

Typically, this is not the kind of race that most of our brethren would take part.  But after examining the tracks of our noble steeds, the signs were obvious.  We had no choice.  We can to join the fray.  How could we not?  The pull was too strong.  After much deliberation and consumption of firewater, our warriors were chosen: Ash Duban and Luke Kalloch.  Both experienced riders in the chaos of city streets.  And so they went forward to a weekend that would challenge mind, spirit and liver.

Friday night held many different events.  First, there were the goldsprints.  Which is pretty much stationary racing on rollers.  Take a gander:

Photo by John Prolly

Just in case you didn't notice, both bikes had horse heads mounted on them.  So, we felt at home spinning for 500 meters as fast as we could (or until you puked).

The second event that evening was an alleycat.  For those of you who don't know what an alleycat is here is a quick explanation.  Alleycats are bicycle races that were created by messengers to simulate a day at work.  This means it is unsanctioned, in traffic and usually at a time when the traffic is heavy (rush hour, bar closing time, etc).  The racers will get a manifest with a list of address that they have to go to and get a signature from the checkpoint person(s).  Typically, the racer can go to the addresses in any order but there are many variations on an alleycat.  Sometimes they have to pick up and drop off packages, sometimes they have to do a shot of whiskey (or hot sauce or chug a beer) or even greco-roman wrestle someone to get their signature/stamp on the manifest.  It is all about route planning and bike handling in traffic (and being smart so you don't get caught by the cops).  The distance of an alleycat can be anywhere from 10-35 miles.

This particular alleycat was 10 checkpoints that you could do in any order and it started at 11pm (just when the downtown traffic starts to get bad).  Ms. Ash Duban bravely volunteered herself for the task while Luke Kalloch bowed down from the event (because of the unfair advantage of working on the city streets everyday).  Instead, he hunkered down at one of the checkpoints with a couple of beers and exercised the patience and pain tolerance of the racers.  In the end, Ash Duban took 5th place overall (out of 70!), 1st girl and 1st Austinite (for shame all of you Austin racers!  Letting out-of-towners sweep the podium!).  Kicking ass and taking names.  As usual.  As a celebratory act, promptly vomited (this is quite the ritual in courier get togethers [whether you're racing or not]) on the curb outside of the fine fixed gear boutique know as Fast Folks.

Commence more drink.  Followed by waking up and not remember how you go there.

As the drunken fog of the early morning started to lift and the haze of Saturday's hangover started to set in, the weary travelers made their way eastward for the day's competition.  The official NACCC race is a completely different animal than an alleycat.  Thought it is still constructed to simulate a workday but the approach is from a different perspective.  The coarse is a closed coarse run directionally with checkpoints strategically place around it.  The racers are given a manifest of pick-ups and drop-offs that they are to complete as quickly as possible.  The only two requirements (typically) are that you have to pick-up in the order that checkpoints are listed on the manifest and you can only go in one direction on the coarse.  So, in other words, if you miss a pick-up, you have to go around the ENTIRE coarse in order to get that pick-up again.  You can drop off in any order.

fedex tube size.  With either one you choose, you still have to pedal until your legs fall off.

The festivities were slated to begin at noon that fine Saturday afternoon but in true messenger style, none of the competitors showed up until 12:30 and the organizers weren't ready to start until 3pm (how is it that people who make their living by being on time are always late for everything else?  Dubious...).  The delay was probably caused by a mixture of things: part hangover, part sleep deprivation, a touch of lacking cooperation and a sprinkle of explaining how to work the chip timing to everyone.  Yes, chip timing.  Possibly the most technical thing the NACCC has ever seen.  This present quite a bizarre way of running the qualifier.  Usually, everyone would be sent out together in groups of 20-30 in 15 minute increments.  This way you could at least gauge how well you were doing against some other scumbag (a loving term).  With the chip timing, people were sent out onto the coarse INDIVIDUALLY in 15 SECOND intervals.  It felt more like an individual time trial were you couldn't gauge how well you were doing at all (that is, unless you passed the poor soul that was sent 15 [30, 45 or even 120!] seconds before you [take scalps]).  Despite the foreign feeling of the qualifier, the warriors valiantly pedaled their way round and round until their manifest was complete (some perfectly preserved with beautifully clean stamps and some torn to shreds and pretty much illegible).

With the qualifier all wrapped up (and everyone thoroughly soaked after the first torrential downpour Austin has seen in months during the non-messenger race [much excited hoots and hollers and urgings on]), it was time for all the battle weary cyclists to rest up for what would prove to be their most taxing event: the after party at Red 7.  With so much cheap beer and massive amounts of testosterone in one place, only a shit-show could ensue (naturally).  The nights entertainment was provided by the tribal musings of Comanche Racing's own Luke Kalloch (in his group "The Loblolly Boy") and the band Quick Release (an all Austin bike messenger hardcore band with 15 songs, a 15 minute set [you do the math] and a more than clever name).

 Squaw Duban drinking the sweet nectar of victory (photo by John Prolly)
 Loblolly Boy (photo by John Prolly)
Quick Release (photo by John Prolly)

The results of the qualifiers were announced later that night.  After slipping through the crowd of sweaty bodies and oversized bags, one could finally get a glimpse of the standings.  Crihs Thormann of NYC took the fastest time for the day, Rob Kittilson of Seattle 2nd and last years NACCC champ, Stu Louder, took 3rd.  Luke place decently at 8th coming in a disappointing three minutes after Thormann while Ash Duban grabbed 2nd in the non-messenger race (side note: mildly entertaining seeing such a petite lady carry such enormous packages).  Prizes were also given for cleanest and most utterly mangled manifest and such ridiculous things.   And to everyone's surprise (and to some's dismay) the qualifiers were moved from the top 30 riders to the top 50.  So, before anyone could look at their watches, drunkenly trying to calculate how many hours of sleep they could get before they had to race, they were being booted out of the club. 2am.

With a full day behind them, the organizers were rip-roaring and read to go for the main race (having all of the kinks worked out).  The start of the race was a more traditional one on this day with what is called a "Le Mans" start.  Each rider set their bike down in the order that they placed in the qualifier in rows of eight, six lines deep.  The riders separated into two groups and instructed to grab their perspective manifests (in this race, the riders had to complete THREE of them) and wait for the starting yell.  With a gutural scream, everyone dashed toward their bicycular devices (pushing, shoving and avoiding trampling other bikes) in order to mount them and be the first to their perspective checkpoints.

The race was off to complete the three manifests to determine the fastest courier in North America. Despite attempts to keep envelopes/boxes dry from the previous day's downpour, all of the packages still ended up in moisturous mangled mess.   So, the racers were not required to carry any packages for the race but they still had to (cruelly) carry their bags and locks with them.  For the next two hours the 50 qualifying individuals circled the course frantically getting their manifests stamped, cursing themselves for each fuck-up they made and pushing to make up for the time they had lost.

In the end, it was a surprise victory from Austin's own Mason O'Neal!  Mason has not been a bike messenger for many years but the way the race was setup ex-messengers could race with the current messengers.  It just goes to show that an old dog can still show these young whipper snappers what's up. Chas Christiansen of San Fran came in 2nd, Stu Louder of Richmond (host of next years NACCC) crossed the line to take 3rd, Luke took 46 scalps for 4th and Rob Kittilson rounded out the top 5.  For the second year in a row, Christina Peck of Chicago won it for the ladies, followed closely by Kate Schrock (D.C.) and Heather Mueller (NYC).

The awards ceremony was held that night at the popular eastside bar known as the Liberty.  Though there seemed to be a sense of melancholy in the air (knowing the weekend was coming to a close), that didn't stop everyone from getting rowdy.  Prizes were being thrown all over the place.  First male and female made out with a ton of swag and a custom stainless steel frame set.  With all the prizes handed out,  the bike messengers of North America commenced to doing the thing they do second best (and what Austin does best): drink.  This continued into the wee hours of the morning or (for some) until the wheels of their plane lifted off of the sacred soil of Austin, TX.

 Mason FTW (photo by John Prolly)
Christina "Jailbird" Peck (photo by John Prolly)

And thus ends the tale of the 2011 NACCC and the beginning (and I promise the longest) of the Comanche race report blog.  Keep checking back for more updates or be our friend on the facebook so you can get a second by second feed on our always exciting adventures!