Sunday, September 27, 2009
"The air was still, but cool. The riders were even cooler. While hot coffee permeated the morning fog, the sounds of ratcheting hubs rolling up to the Hess household resonated through Live Oak.
But the beginning of this story is not about the 18 gentlemen about to take on the roads of the Steel Wül Classic, it was first about their descendants. With a loud start, the kid's Crit took off. Sophia ever the good sport was overheard saying – “no I’ll just wait till they come around again to go. ”Olivia Jane" took an early lead off the gun screaming past the first round about. Emma and Peter, tried to bridge the gap with all their might early on – but Peter had a plan. Seeing there was no line judge and no rules to speak of, he took an inside line through the last cone to advance his lead over Olivia for the overall. In the end, Olivia took the women’s race, with Peter DePolo taking the men's. Eva took the coveted D.F.L. spot by advancing approximaely 5 feet before becoming bored with her steed - Lady LuvBug. On-lookers were proud to see the talent pool spuring in the land of Santa Cruz
So in about another 5 min……or maybe 10 …….or maybe 20 min, the Media arrived to snap pics of fresh riders on their way into the unknown……
And boom - cannons were heard all the way to Piggly Wiggly market as the start of the second annual Steel Wül launched off into the morning air. Phil Ligget had a tough time identifying riders on he way out of town- for circling helicopters had thick moring fog with which to deal.
The Groupetto Compacto rolled past the city, through the fields of Aptos into the land of Sausage. Several mortal Saturday Ride scragglers were seen jaws dropped watching our lean machine roll by. Birthday Steve shared some Makers Mark to numb the pain of what was about to ensue.
Right before the climb, last year’s winner of the Steel Wül respectfully pulled himself from the race. His coach has him on full taper for tomorrow’s triathlon, and he is needing rest to save his legs for another noble challenge. To commemorate the spirit of Steel Wül, he has pledged to do tomorrow’s entire event- from swim to run – in wool knickers.
Up through the fog, they climbed – climbed high up into the canyon. The heat peeled back layers of emotion from the riders on their way up the canyon, Some of the riders took shelter in the hot, exposed right side of the road, laughing at those riders who chose a line through the hot exposed left side of the road. As Director Sportiff Hess said, it's hot, but at least it's steep. Riders reaching the summit were blown away to see aid station #1, sponsored by Nutella. A spectacle of fresh Strawberry and cream cheese sandos, grapes, yogurt, hand made pepperoni rolls, and Nutella. The feast cheered the the riders.
This was to be an epic single day classic. Most riders choose to plan their attack and moves for later in the day. However, today was not the day for belated moves. The charge for D.F.L. was begun early. Local Aptos high stand-out Andrew Carroll made an unprecedented move for the coveted D.F.L. award- working hard to sustain a triple flat amongst his peers. This was enough to knock Tim out of contention for the rest of the day. Congratulations Andrew. – well deserved.
Up they climbed – road turned to pave – pave turned to sand – sand turned to cachunk-a-chunk and yet they drove onward and upward. Beautiful views of Mt. Hamilton, Mt. ummm….ummm…ummmm…..Ominumum, the fog encroached valley below, and crystal azure skies above.
Some of the significant others may wonder what type of discussion might go on during a ride as such. Discussions circled from old races and future rides and races, to fish stories of various proportions, and talk of who has the nicest buttocks in the pro ranks.
Achieving the summit might seem like the high point of the day - but not for the riders of Steel Wül. The terrain re-warded with a sweet- seemingly endless rail down the chunky gravel roads. Through sand berms, potholes large enough to swallow Humvees, and rabid dogs looking for a mid-afternoon snack. Fast moving terrain, wind screaming loudly in your ears, clear skies – doesn’t get any better than this folks. At the bottom, riders were treated to hand and forearm massages and manicure to relieve tired hands from the duty of squeezing break levers.
And lunch. Mob Hits filled the air. Fresh baked breads, fresh meats and cheeses, chips, cookies filled their spirits and guts. By now the total calorie intake was 4 times what was spent on their bicycles. With a chunk in their gut and lead in their legs, the groupetto took off for Lady Madonna and her summit.
The KOM was taken by local standout Ben Jacques-Maynes, second was Mike Jaques-Moore and Jake Jaques-Hess working for the bronze. Riders toped off their still-full guts with ice cream sandos to end the day.
And so the ride back to town began easy enough. Until someone forgot to tell the entire groupetto that UCI points were in fact being distributed for the race back into Aptos. Sprockets crackled, shifters grudgingly engaged, and the group was shattered. Shattered back into town - but re-united at the Finish. Happier. Healthier. Invigorated, and about 6-9 pounds heavier then when they began their day – this is Steel Wül 2009. Thanks Volunteers. Thanks to our families, and thank you to our bicycles for letting us see this world."
Photos courtesy of Stevil:
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