19 warriors contested Stage 5 of the Antelope Fall Classic. The herd welcomed new riders Stan, Jon, Frank, Brian, and Damien as well as old friend Bill K. Bill, knowing how to celebrate his 50th birthday in style, left his small children behind to put down the hammer with the herd:
Riding on Your Birthday Point--BillK
Among the herd, there were clearly cheetahs in attendance and the Reverend Lenny's comment would prove prophetic:
|There's some really fast legs out here tonight|
Cruising out Colham Ferry, the cheetahs seemed content to chill in the pack. But as the first sprint zone came closer, the tension in the herd was palpable: This was not going to be your grandpa’s Elder Mmill sprint. The GC contenders BenG, Mark, and Jeff were clearly amped to test their fitness with Athens' elite. I entertained ridiculous thoughts like, "well maybe if they go real fast I will get more draft on the climb and be able to hang with them." Yeh right. We hit the base of the climb still in the 20’s and the mountain goats simply took off in a mad hammer fest of pain and wattage. Half way up my speedometer read 17 and I thought, OK maybe the road racer guys can do this but the Antelopes? Well from my reading the lead group never went less than 17 on the steep parts of the hill and Jeff, Ben, and Mark stayed right with the big boys as they formed a breakaway that just powered down the road 10 seconds ahead of the chase. At this point I paused to call my doctor and order some liposuction, testosterone , and EPO. I also put my house, my second born, and my left nut up for sale so I can get some of those wheels with the hidden engine in the hub that Brian was riding on.
But it was too late for today. At the line:
3rd Mark Y
After the incredible assault on Elder Mill by the GC contenders and their cheetah lead out men, the Oconee Enterprise helicopter caught the intense battle between Kathleen and Val for the queen of the mountain sprint point.
|Too bad Bethany's not here or we could crack her like an egg too|
Val rode a brilliant tactial race. Pulling for a massive stretch down the false flat she put Kath under pressure then pulled off 200 meters before the line. Kath immediately accelerated but Val held on to her wheel, made a quick recovery and came around right at the line. Way to go Val!
Queen of the Mountain Sprint Point= Val
Now I wish that this entire blogpost could be about heroism under duress. but I'm afraid we will have to tackle a troubling circumstance that emerged in Stage 5. As you may recall from the afternoon specials and Extenze infomercials there is a problem that affects men who bike. It seems to happen most often with younger men and may be linked to an excess of testosterone. Yes, between sprints yesterday several riders had clear problems with premature attackulation or PA. There was a case of PA during the Antelope World Cup and it was difficult for everyone. Now premature attackulation is certainly embarrassing. As you may have observed or even experienced , sometimes younger men in the heat of their excitement and passion for cycling, attack before the sprint zone. Although premature attackulation provides a quick thrill and immediate gratification, it is never as satisfying and healthy as mature attackulation. In a mature attackulation the peloton is together at the start of the sprint zone. The herd begins to hammer en masse, the pace building and building as lead out riders bring the pace higher and higher until weaker riders are straining to hold on and the back of the pack begins to crack. Then the attacks begin, relentlessly, as lines of riders forge past and others grab wheels until the pace is breakneck and the line is in view. Finally with their last bit of strength, riders charge to the line and over--- completely spent, breathless but satisfied.
But not on stage 5. The pace heading back to Bishop on Astondale was brutal, dropping riders left and right and hitting the last hill before the service road at 20+. The pace stayed over 18 on the service road despite the three speed bumps and when the leaders turned onto Old bishop they were gone. Once again the antelope GC leaders proved they had the stones to ride with (almost) anyone in Athens:
2nd MarkY (with help from Cheetah Matt)
Although the herd broke up on Astondale, the dropped antelopes fought on. Dan, Jon, and I were caught in no man’s land having stayed with the premature attackulators until the end of Astondale before losing them for good. Our chase group had a good 20 seconds on the peloton, when Reverend Lenny took the scattered herd onto his back wheel, and chased us down 2k before the line. Kathleen took the reins and did her own monster pull at 25mph into the wind and still stayed strong to take the woman power sprint point. Mature attackulation awards?
Jens Voigt Chase Point—Rev Lenny
Antelope woman power sprint point- Kath
And Stage 5 was in the books. Average speed for the peloton was 19.7. For the premature attackulators? probably like 30. To date, 48 riders have contested the AFC and BenG continues to lead the GC with 24 points. The Queen of the Herd contest is neck and neck with Kathleen forging into the lead over Bethany.
The days are growing short and there are only 3 stages left. Next week we will cut off Carson Graves and shorten the route by about 2 miles.
If you're not saving your legs for 6 Gap, join the antelope herd for a 54 miler out to Maxey's. We meet at the courthouse on Sat at 8am.