Acting your age

There’s a little bit of the Tour de France at Superweek. And not just racing every day.

The racers at the Tour de France occasionally find reasons to stage protests: over unsafe road conditions, treatment by police during the doping scandals several years ago. To protest, they will sit at the start line when the race is supposed to begin.

It’s hard to imagine a group of 40+ Masters racers at Superweek doing this because they are unhappy with late starting times.

This is what happened at the Lakefront Road Race. Upset because of the 40 minute delay, a couple of the local riders decided to stage a ‘protest’. The whistle blew, and no one on the front row started. Well one guy who apparently was not informed (or who did not want to go along) did take off.

After about 40 seconds and some shouts of “Go!” from the back rows, we started. I could see protesting dangerous conditions, but to do it because of late starting times just seems embarrassing to all of us.

The Lakefront course is on the waterfront in Milwaukee, and requires a significant amount of logistics to close the 4.2 mile course to traffic. It is completely closed to cars. The races on this course, in my experience, have always started late (both the ‘long’ and ‘short’ courses). So you show up 30 minutes later than normal and expect that you won’t start on time.

The race hasn’t been held the last few years, due in part to construction, and probably due in part to the hassles with closing the course. How often do you get to race on a road course, closed to traffic, in a downtown setting?

Aren’t we old guys supposed to have gotten beyond the phase of taking yourself too seriously? Guess Masters racers can be ‘young at heart’ in more ways than one.

PS. Over the next couple days, all of the half-dozen guys I talked to thought this was embarrassing also. So not all of us are whiners.

Day 3 Update:

The Lakefront course is one of my favorites, but I was not excited to do it in the rain. It was pouring at the hotel, but dry at the course only 12 miles away, and the sun was out. But shortly after the race started, it began to rain. On only half of the course. The other half was dry. Unfortunately the wet part included the twisting downhill plunge to the lakefront.

Guys were crashing in the sharp curve at the top of the descent, even though (it seemed) we were barely moving. I stayed near the front and made it through the first few times just fine. Then at the bottom, on the left turn onto the lakefront road, someone went down, the guy in front of me went down, and his bike took my wheels out. Fortunately for me, I mostly fell on him, and had only some minor road rash (and the next day a sore body).

After chasing back to the group, then recovering a bit, I went with several attacks. One looked promising but was caught with 2 laps to go. It was looking like a field sprint but 2 guys got away in the closing couple of miles. Not in a position to go, I missed the move and rolled in just out of the money (but with most of my skin).



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6 responses to “Acting your age

  1. Jim

    Well, I have never raced up there so I have to rely on what you have written.
    I would agree that a protest of that sort is childish but it seems like something needs to be done.
    Why is it considered “okay” to be constantly late? Why is it impossible to start on time, every year?
    I would have problems with that also. Once in a while fine, but every year?
    Plan on arriving later than you should and you will never miss the race?
    What kind of organization is that?
    I don’t really think of it as taking things too seriously but my time has a value to me. If they can’t do it “on time” (and they know it), then IMO they should make start time later the next year.
    It really shouldn’t be that tough. I know that when we have someone that arrives late for the start of our rides, after the second or third time, I am going to speak with them about it.
    Just my $.02. Hope you doing well.

  2. Brian

    Late starts are for sure annoying. You get up and try to time your eating and preparation (like espresso intake) for the race time. And when the race is late it throws everything off.

    The worst was this year at Nationals, when the TT start was delayed 2 hours (!!!).

    For the Lakefront race though, they have 4+ miles of road in downtown Milwaukee to close. They have to put up barriers, get marshals and police in place, and then deal with people who have parked cars on the course because they unknowingly came early in the morning to run or walk by the lake.

    And they do that while trying to get the race started by 9am. If they didn’t have the full road closure I think it would be different.

  3. Jim

    Two hours???? Really???
    I have to ask what their lame excuse was?
    Every year there is at least one screw up at the USCF Championships and yet people keep coming back, and paying BIG entry fees too. Simply amazing to me.
    I understand that closing the roads is a tough job. However, if it can’t be done for a 9 am start, then it should either say that on the entry form OR make it a 10 am start (and start doing the needed work at the same time as they do now).

  4. Brian

    The Nats TT was late because they didn’t have marshals to control the cross-traffic on the course. The road itself was closed (half of a 4 lane divided road) but there were cross streets and they had no marshals to make sure cars didn’t go on the course. Not sure whether they hadn’t planned for this in the first place, or whether volunteers just didn’t show up.

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