Race Weekend: Gran Prix of Gloucester - 2012

Before going any further there are two things that you need to read. First, go over to the Cascade Bicycle Studio Blog and check out Zac's post titled: Remembering Gloucester. This will give you a little insight into where we are going with this. The New England World Championships. GStar. Gla-stah. Whatever you want to call it, the end result is the same. The second, was written by my good friend and soon-to-be-father Pierre Vanden Borre (see below). His is on the Mad Alchemy/Verge blog and is titled The Race of the Newborn and talks about his unique Gloucester experience as well.

This year was the first year that I have been back to these hallowed grounds in some time. But, of course I remember the year that Zac is talking about. 2004 or 2005. The year with the snow on Saturday and the bright sunny oposite the next. I have never been more cold in my entire life. I know that I have referenced it before somewhere. Maybe here, maybe elsewhere, but, seeing Dave Rose put his hands into a strangers armpits for warmth is something that I will never forget. Mostly because I was jealous. My own hands hurt to that degree where you do not want anything to touch them. I remember looking over and seeing Pete Rubi just sitting on the edge of his sisters car. Unable to get in and enjoy its warmth unable to do anything but sit there and long for the feeling to return to his furthest extremities.

There was also the battles with Lyne Bessette that I can never forget. Sure, I know what you are thinking. You were under the impression that I was a boy, nay, a man, and that Lyne resides on the other side of camp. Well, both of those sentiments are true. I am a man (boy) and she is certainly a Woman. Lyne would do the Men's B race (Killer B's) before her own race kicked off for a bit of a warmup. No big deal. Georgia Gould would later do the same down in the MAC series and it would be an equally contested race to the finish. In both cases these women put so much of a hurt on us (I threw up once after going head to head with Lyne to the finish line - but let us not forget that she is an Olympian here people) that they made us quite literally question our own relevance in the sport, which, in the grand scheme of things was pretty null and void. Or maybe it fits in somewhere with the "helping provide a warm-up for the Women's race" category.

Any way that you slice it these were the hotly contested races.

This year was decidedly different but allowed for the kind of reflection that is necessary in these instances. Which really mean that Gloucester, the New England World Championships, is a really great place to see all the people that you have come to associate with the sport year after year.

Thank fucking god Richard Fries was on the mic. I'm not sure if this race would, or could be complete without his particular brand of humor laced with results laced with good natured ribbing mixed in with a healthy dose of Dick Ring inspired cycling-isms. Gone are the days of him calling me "the bearded Gent" (what? I was trying to have a beard) or Alex Whitmore's more appropriate "Captain Cutoffs" moniker, but the soothing sound sounds of Richard with the microphone in his hand were well worth it.

The other entity that makes this scene behave the way that it does is Richard Sachs and his band of merry men. The scene here is not complete without his smiling (yet stern) face moving from one entrance to the other in the pits. He has coaxed Dan Timmerman out of retirement once again (a better "bearded gent?") and tamed the other Dan into - if all indications are correct - a well rounded and nice individual. Dan, under the name Bondeth also happens to take fantastic photos when his camera is not being stolen. Which really sucks. If you have some sort of Ricoh point and shoot scenario that you would like to lend him for the remainder of the season (the season being life) I am very sure that he would like to borrow it.

Now, this scene would not be complete without a few new faces as well. The Frenchwomen, both of them always have a smile or two stored away. In fact, Caroline Mani's pain face looks like she's smiling even though she is definitely not. Meredith Miller is a new face for this race as well and a welcome one at that. Because if we are not allowed to swoon then what are we? (boys) Her performances both days can only be equaled by her infectious laugh and again that smile. Sure, I am biased about the other Frenchwoman, Miss Krasniak, but that is a story for another time. Until then I will just leave you with this quote that she dropped on us at the restaurant on Saturday night. "One and one makes two, yes" she said as she held out two index fingers in front of her, "but it also makes eleven" she dropped her hands and smiled "that one is from Jean Claude-VanDamme, he's like our Chuck Norris." Thanks Julie.

This year Gloucester was a test of sorts. Could I go back to Gloucester, not race, dole out a few hugs and still get everything out of it that I needed too? Of course, I can grit my teeth, grin and bare it for a few races here and there. But, this race does something special to you, what that really is I have no idea, but the closest thing that I can think is that it instills something inside of you. An appreciation of where you came from? A passion for the sport?

Or maybe just that je ne sais quoi that keeps us going to all the races. Looking forward to things that hurt in ways that we can't describe. That old familiar feeling.

SIDE NOTE: Tim Johnson likes to tell me things about my photo taking habit. For a while it was that I take a lot of photos which is why I sometimes end up with good ones. Ok, thanks for that Tim, I appreciate your feedback. The last thing that he told me, while we were riding recently from Boulder to Denver, was that I don't put enough people in the photos. That they just become all landscape and bike photos. So, with that in mind I really tried hard to take some pictures of people this time around. People like Tim, and his mother.