#readytobrumble

We interrupt your normally scheduled work to bring you this unimportant, yet slightly entertaining distraction. Read on to get the experience of a day in the cleats of an exceedingly mediocre amateur cyclist. This interruption will also hope to bring some respite to the case studies, spreadsheets and narcolepsy-inducing meetings that you may have the usual displeasure of immersing yourself in at this particular hour. So grab that coffee, get your hand on the scroll wheel and get #readytobrumble!

It was a bittersweet balance of the elements at 8:00am on Sunday as I rode my race-equipped steed across the Harvard (Mass Ave) Bridge. The cold crisp air that tickled my nose was offset by the abundant and warm sunshine that was a welcome prelude of a spring soon to come. Or so we hoped. I rolled towards our Zipcar rendezvous point that was conveniently located at a local coffee shop. The Honda Odyssey was busy being loaded by teammate Adam and new friend of GLV, Richard, while Natasja was in the cafe looking to turn her caffeination level up a few notches with an aero-press coffee for the road. Steeds secured, coffee in hand and GPS locked onto a certain Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island, we rolled for the next two hours in caffeinated comfort to the start of a brand new event, the Brumble Bikes Kermesse.

New race day! This was an exciting prospect for a few reasons. It was, obviously, a first-time event that was not a crit and not hilly. This looked to be a course that was right in my wheelhouse. Obviously no one has ever raced the course and could not provide any insight as to the dynamics and characteristics. Cole and Johnny had ridden the course 2 weeks ago and reported back that "If you ride bikes in Northampton, it is flat. If you ride bikes in Boston, it is rolling. It is an awesome course, and it is exposed to the ocean almost all the way around the course. If it's windy, there will be no place to hide!" Thanks, Cole. Well, sure enough there was a mild gale that was forecasted to accompany the cold, crisp air as it tickled your nose. Challenging weather aside, what made this event intriguing were the facts that this was a new event, organized by a well-respected cyclist, on roads most have not ridden before, with racers with unknown fitness levels who may be coming out to race for the first time in 2016. Warm and fuzzy feelings were absent.

Even if this race was hilly, rainy, near freezing and traversed a de-militarized zone through a swarm of locusts I still would have had to check it out for myself. I am appreciative of and grateful for new events that hit the racing calendar. This is a step in the right direction and I applaud you Mr. Brumble and your Brumble Bikes Kermesse. The promoter, Amos Brumble, really took a well-calculated chance on this one. I'm sure his sleepless nights due to incessant worrying about the performance, safety and acceptance of his new event greatly outweighed the worries of the 300 racers who couldn't decide on the right combination of clothes to don before they toed the line. New races are almost always exciting and this one did not disappoint.

Onto the start of the race. Joining me on this journey were Adam, Gerry, Steven and Max. Adding to the warm welcome from the field were old friends Randall and Alex of Grinta!, the kids from Cannondale Sports Lingo Jingo and the sole (yes, only one!) Goguen from Race CF, Chris. With our Craft Aerosuit pockets stuffed with food, Specialized bottles filled with Osmo and stomachs full of butterflies, we got the all clear for take-off from USA Cycling Chief Referee Kristin Mills. The 5 of us from GLV rolled out with the pack.

The first lap was a bit of a parade lap for the whole cat 3 field to recon the course and get a feel of the undulations, wind and New England pavé (read: potholes). The front of the pack must have been so enthralled with the gorgeous ocean views that we completely missed the first turn. A combination of confusion and hilarity ensued. Even after we navigated ourselves by the likes of  Apple Maps GPS 1.0, we still were unsure of where we needed to go. Turns out this counter-clockwise course had a right-hand turn in it. Inconceivable! Once back on the correct heading we managed to complete the rest of the lap without additional mishaps. For a while there, I had entertained the thought that this race might turn out to be an uneventful, yet spirited group ride with a hurty bit at the very end. I thought wrong, very wrong.

The 5 of us from GLV got together and we chatted a bit about how each other felt and how we might animate the race. Conversations ceased abruptly when Gerry's front wheel collided with an invisible force of great size and strength. We rolled on only to be informed a few miles into the 2nd lap that Gerry had, indeed, flatted out of the race.

And then there were 4.

Down one of our strongmen, our remaining quartet moved towards the front to get a better glimpse of a solo attacker who slipped of the front at the beginning of lap 2. We took turns with the help of some other ambitious souls to try and reel him in. The entire 3rd lap was spent chasing only to have him just out of reach of "peloton-phagocytosis". One smart man from B2C2 recognized this unwavering gap and shot off the front on lap 3 to try and join the lonely stranger off the front. No additional sense of urgency came from the pack and Mike (from B2C2) made the long-distance dedication and doubled the break. When we realized the initial solo break was Zev of Downeast Cycling, we stopped the pussyfooting and got to work. Adam, Steven and myself had taken long turns at the front to try and bring the break back. At the end of the 4th lap I got myself next to Max to suggest that he bridge if we get the break back within eyesight. Max seemed comfortable with this idea and the front of the race saw a lot of Green Line Velo butts as we were again in hot pursuit of Mike and Zev.

Onto lap 5 of 7. At this point the tired legs of GLV, the increasing winds and the lack of urgency from much of the peloton have led to the demise of the pursuit. I roll up next to Max and Adam who are near the front of the group. We chat and are in agreement that we are now racing for the short step of the podium. Just when things calmed down and had that old familiar group ride feel, disaster struck. Max decided to enjoy a mid-race snack when the rider in front decided to throw in a dab of brakes and a touch of wheels to Max's menu. Instead of the bar he had, Max hit the deck and got a face full of asphalt. Unfortunately, Adam was directly behind Max and they had themselves a pavement nap, party of two.

And then there were 2.

With just Steven and I to fend for ourselves, we tried to stay optimistic as our food and water had ran out with 2 laps to go. And then a sole rider appeared in the distance as we started our 6th lap. Turns out, Zev dropped Mike from the break and was continuing the journey solo again. Making our way to the backside of the course we absorb Mike. I congratulate him on his efforts. He replies, "Thanks. But that guy is in a different league!" Indeed he was, and with that recent catch, Liam from Hot Tubes jumped away from the pack and straight into the headwind. This was actually a brilliant maneuver as very shortly after our field was neutralized to let the elite men's lead group go by. Liam had achieved a respectable gap that wouldn't close. Our field was again sprinting for 3rd.

The one-lap-to-go bell sounded as we cruised past the finish line. Legs were getting that twingy feeling as they were on the brink of cramping. Let's wrap this thing up and go home safely. Though just as our race started with confusion and hilarity, it also ended that way. With about 2 miles to go, we get neutralized again to allow the elite men's main field to pass. This was an awkward dance as we were being hasty setting up for the final sprint. Meanwhile, the elite men were in no such hurry as they had 4 laps left. This made need for a delicate balance of proper speed, positioning and patience.

With 1 mile to go my mind is ready, willing and able. My body had other plans. That twingy feeling in my legs was growing. I imagined that my legs dreamt (if legs could dream) of wooly socks, a sandwich and the warm, soft seat of our Zipcar at the finish line. I snapped back to reality and saw an attack from Cannondale Lingo Jingo go right before the last corner. This helped to line out the field as we settled into the last 1/2 mile of the race. From about mid-pack I sneak out from behind Randall and put the power down on the left side of our lane. Miraculously, there was a clear path all the way down. Everyone had grouped together farther to the right and were being blasted by the now crosswinds coming off the ocean. Uninterrupted power and shelter from the crosswinds allowed me to move up, wheel by wheel. 250 meters to go and I am picking off riders one-by-one. Looking ahead I see the back of the SRAM neutral support car for the elite men. The bumper is no more than 100 meters in front of me and closing awfully fast as I cruise at 38mph. I find myself with 200 meters left, legs begging for me to pull the 'chute with a handful of cat 3's still in front. I threw caution to the crosswinds and got out of the saddle for what little I had left. Right pedal down. Ok. Left pedal down. Oh no! Immediately, my left quad cramped, locked in full extension and almost threw me off the front of my bike. I sit back down and just keep turning the pedals over. The SRAM car is now less than 50 meters in front. Riders were scattering to avoid the SRAM car as we approach the line. I take advantage of my early patience and roll past two more riders before crossing the line. Sixth place was a lot better than I had thought this day was going to go for me.

I thought to myself what an awkward way to finish. I coast up to the back bumper of the SRAM car, wave, and turn around to return to the soft and warm seat of our Zipcar. Magically, Skip, Meredith's dad, had a sandwich waiting for me. I put on my wooly socks, park my sore derriere on that car seat and slowly return to normalcy as I gorge on sandwiches. Despite the majority of the racers having had a less than desirable event experience due to results, mechanicals or crashing, we were all in agreement that this is the beginning of something beautiful. I appreciate your efforts, Mr. Brumble and can offer only one suggestion for future editions. Schedule this event in the summer so that when the racing is over we can all go straight to the most socially awkward cyclist beach party afterwards.