Insane. That word seems fitting for today. Leading up to this trip, I didn’t question how strong the will was of the MASH crew, but I’ll be honest and say that I had a few doubts about how things might unfold. I’ve ridden sections of some of these stages and have had a challenging enough time with a full set of gears and the luxury of brakes. I wasn’t doubting their determination. Simply the physics. Watching these guys today from the comfort of the Clif Bar biodiesel Sprinter, any preconceived notions of impossibility were completely dismissed. This trip is for real. These guys are for real.
The schedule that we’re going to have to keep for this ride lends itself to a bit of an erie feeling. We arrived at the starting line in Davis this morning at 9:00am. There were no crowds lining the street. No megaphone blasting the names of the guys in the MASH crew. No trainers set up to get the legs warm. Just a handful of guys in a van, pulling up to the side of the road and unloading their own bikes from the trailer. Seeing their matching kits, some folks arriving early think that perhaps they’re a team from the pro peloton. Race officials know better and simply ask us to re-park the van and trailer as the pro team buses are on their way.
With no gun fired to signal a start or cowbells ringing, the guys start pedaling. And they’ll be steady going for the next six to seven hours. There might have been 20 minutes when it wasn’t raining today. I’m sure you’ve been watching the stages on Versus. Imagine any single one of the descents on a track bike, in the rain, with no brakes. Again, I tip my hat to these guys for something I’m quite confident that I couldn’t do.
Granted, the MASH crew started the ride around 9:15am and the peloton didn’t start until Noon...But its still an incredible victory to know that two of the MASH guys arrived in Santa Rosa ahead of the pros. When you see the footage of climbing Howell Mountain Road on a fixed-gear, you will not believe what you’re watching.
I caught the peloton for a brief second from the side of the road...In spite of the weather the field looked strong. There’s a fair number of European riders who came over this year. If the rain scares them away for next year, perhaps the governing body of the race will award a spot on the tour for MASH?
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- Guest Starring