Don Soren and I were brothers-in-arms this past Monday in the 3's at the infamous Alpine Valley Road Race. As some of you already know, this was my redemption ride. (My personal stats for this race are far less than glamourous: 2003 DNF after 2 laps. 2004 shelled on first lap, finished last.) Even though I'd be racing in a new category, I had big plans to post a decent result in 2005 at Alpine Valley.

Midway through the 2nd lap (we did 6 total), Soren did one of his patented solo ninja attacks. No loud gear clanking then bike flailing off the front...just a smooth acceleration that keeps increasing along with the gap. You all need to see it sometime. I swear Euro techno music descends from above when the Soren attack happens.

While he went for it, I played stupid and did my best to screw with the the rhythm of the chase ("Pull through?!? What's that? Der, I just bought this bike...") The pack would have none of that and they quickly organized. A lap later, he was caught by the group.

Shortly thereafter, 4 more guys went up the road and seemed to be working pretty well together even though they were sort of dangling within sight. With 2 1/2 laps remaining, I through we were close enough to the break that I could bridge and pedal onto glory.

So, not being a certified Ninja bike racer, after some gear clanking and bike flailing, there I was going for the solo bridge up to the four guys who were about 40 seconds up the road. After about 2 miles I had it down to 15 seconds (yes I was clocking them), but then we turned onto a headwind section and I stopped gaining. Goodbye, heroic solo bridge. Hello, no man's land.

I integrated back into the pack at the last hill of the lap. Going up the hill, my left leg started cramping from my solo effort (I could see my left thigh muscle quivering), so I drifted back to the rear because I had to sit down and pedal up the hill one legged. Fun!

I thought of asking Soren for some extra water, but I saw he'd lost his bottles along the way and he looked pretty parched himself. I went into crisis mode and I took a clif shot, drank every last drop of fluid I had left, and did the old leg shake anytime I could coast. Something must have worked, because I didn't cramp up after that.

Not that it made a huge difference. I stayed with the lead pack on the last lap, but I was utterly toasted for the sprint. I wouldn't bet more than $.05 that I placed higher than 30th. But, hey, no DNF and no last place. A decent result. 2006 will be a good result at Alpine Valley...