Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the when

No pun intended but I hate this part. This is the part where I have to quantify and verbalize all the action, all the sensations, all the feelings etc. of a whirlwind that for me is Christmas, New Year's and Halloween all rolled into one. So let me say just this- I don't look for people who ask "why", I only look for people who ask "when". On Saturday I found those people.

Saturday April 11th 2009, all bunnies eve day and the Kitten Factory contingent rolled up to Westmoreland Park just off of Midvale and Tokay and started getting ready. It looked to be a warm, sunny day and despite his misgivings about that the Kittenmaster said "well, alright!". Chris, Billy and Kelly E. had shown up to get the registration started and soon this year's edition of H8TR Riders began to arrive. Familiar faces from the first MBM and the second mixed with first timers and all pretty much knew what to expect.....or do they. Oh they'd been bombarded with posts and emails form the kittenfactory, they've bantered on forums, they've done recon, plotted strategies and talked among themselves but until the wheels came to a stop it was anyone's guess as to how things would turn out.

At 9:50 the Kittenmaster stood atop his picnic table pulpit and dispensed the final instructions and with that they were off. A controlled lead out was just barely controllable as the speed was already starting to pick up heading down Midvale, but the Kittenmaster regulated and soon things were back to a relaxed pace and heading down the Southwest Bike Corridor. From the lead spot watching a parade of riders snake across the Beltline overpass, it was a thing of beauty. A minute later, the hand pointed forward, GOOOOO!!!! was shouted and the serene snake attacked. Jesse and Cory have great accounts of the opening mayhem and if you ask him nicely maybe Lyle will post the one he wrote (c'mon Lyle, wake up the hurtbox) it's almost as good as having Phil Ligget and a helicopter camera crew showing you life off the front. I'll try to gather some of these blogs and photos together because together you might get an idea what went on from a bunch of different perspectives.

From the Kittenmaster's viewpoint it was ride like you meant it (and he always means it) but to also act as on trail streetsweeper and caretaker making sure that those stopped along the trailside were okay. Oh and who should be the first person the KM stopped to check on but last year's MBM: H8TR100 champ Scot Van Asten walking his way back to the road just a little past Whalen. Course conditions were dry, hard, fast and bumpy on the unfinished segments and SVA's rear der dropout had fallen victim to the deadly combo. Game and frame over, but Scot knew it was the luck of the draw and treated it as such with a laugh. That is keeping things in perspective! He's already said he'll be back next year and we don't doubt that for a second!

Despite his love of foul weather, the KM had to admit that this was a fantastic day for riding! Leaf litter, dead grass, dirt and people going full bore made him think of cross season and the fall. Perfect. And speaking of cross season, the KM soon caught up with Nils Gibson, a man who's class in getting somewhere is only matched by his skills in getting there. Serious style we like to call it. We rode along for a while hitting Purcell Road and the beginning of the finished portion of the H8TR when off in the distance another rider was stopped alongside the trail. Dammit, if there wasn't such a thing as the H8TR winner's curse before, there is now- Cory Gwin the first MBM champ had been felled by a flat! Not enough to stop him of course but enough to make for a tough chase to catch up. Assured that Cory was doing fine and soon to join back in the chase, the Kittenmaster rode off only to hear Cory yell "I H8T you!" behind him. The Kittenmaster's day was made!

From H8TRville proper to the tunnel of H8T things rolled along uneventfully with various riders suffering happily alone or in small groups, but past the tunnel, into the turnaround and then to the mountain stage things were hotting up with the off the front group and the chase group. DAMN this was a real race! Stationary domestiques Phil, Roy and Kevin were at the ready with a cooler full of water, PBR, Mountain Creek, sausages and Little Debbie snack cakes. All reported that the OTF group were on fire heading up into the Dirty Alpes with Jesse leading the way. KM missed them by about three minutes but was there in time to see the chaser train steam by and head for the pass. Damn, that was exciting to see!

On the way back the Kittenmaster latched onto the NateTrain and he and Nate Jacques took turns pulling into the ten mile an hour north wind. Nothing like last year's stinging ice pellet north wind beatdown but enough to keep you pedaling steadily every step of the way. Once they hit the city limits Nate churned forward and the KM rode the rest of the way in with Frank Chemotti wheeling into the park with about half the riders returned. The Kittenmaster knew he'd done his job seeing several regular denominators of road, mtn and cx races sprawled across the grass.

Once everyone returned (and once again, everyone did return) the awards were given out which aside from the mens and womens 1-2-3 places also included the best brother/brother combo finish (there were five sets of brothers originally) awarded to the Curtes Bros., Mike and Joe, the dubious technical challenge award given to David Ziehr (three flats and he still finished!!!) and DFL to Karen Bates who stopped in Paoli for a bit to look in the art galleries (umm, the officials think you might have strayed off the course a little Karen...). Then there was a prize drawing and what better place to say thank you to all our sponsors and prize donators? This wouldn't have been nearly the event it was without you!
So thank you:
Twin6 (Mpls) you too can wear the H8T!!! in both his and hers!
Planet Bike
Ben's Cycles (MKE)
Team Polska (MKE)
Portland Design Works (Portland OR)
The Milwaukee Fire Dept
Cognition Caps
ZR Cycles
P-Lip Designs (Columbus)
Revolution Cycles
MacLabs (H8TRville)
Screendoor Printing

And while we're at it, without the MBM volunteers this just wouldn't have happened anywhere near as smoothly and seamlessly as it did!
Billy, Chris, Kelly E., Ryan, Kelly P. , Jessica, Roy, Kevin and Phil- thank you from the kittens.

more blogs and more pictures as they arrive.
thank you to all the riders- you only asked "when".


Blogger devin said...

Best time yet this year on two wheels...

Again Thanks for the fun...

Keep the H8tE Rolling!

7:35 AM  
Blogger claire said...

second that - in a H8tful way.

9:34 AM  

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