of the Cascade Cycling Classic: A View From The Elbowz Racing Team Car
I knew it was going to be an interesting day when I wiped grease from my pliers and made a peanut butter sandwich.
Stage 5 of the Cascade Cycling Classic was an 83 mile circuit race that winds and twists through a residential area. The 17 mile course consisted of several steep hills, long descents, and very tight turns. Going into this race, Elbowz Racing’s Eric Marcotte was tied for the green jersey. Our team’s goal was to try to win the first intermediate sprint that was on lap 2 and then try to win the race. This would, hopefully, secure the green jersey. Before we could achieve our goals, we knew that we must work very hard and have a lot of luck on our side.
Doren, our soigneur, and I loaded this weekend’s team car, a Ford Festiva, just minutes before the start of stage 5. Doren muscled a large ice chest, filled with ice, water, and Clif Shot Electrolytes, into the front seat of the car. A musette bag, filled with Shot Bloks, Clif Energy gels, and Clif Bars, was also strategically placed into the front seat of the car. I loaded two spare wheel sets (a set of Hed’s Stinger 6’s and a set of Stinger 4’s) into the backseat. Along with the wheel sets, a toolbox, and lunch for Doren and me was added to the backseat of the car.
As Doren and I approach the caravan, we have a few minutes before the race starts. In the chaos of getting everything ready for the day, neither of us had eaten lunch. Luckily, Doren had packed a bag for us before we left our host house. In our bag of lunch included bread, peanut butter, and chips. Not included in our bag were utensils. I tried to spread some peanut butter on the bread with chips, but they kept breaking. On the 5th broken chip, I knew I had to use something else. At this time, I started looking into my toolbox and grabbed my pliers. My pliers had bailed the team out of trouble on the day before when I had to twist Sully’s chain straight so that he could finish the race. Today, they were going to smother peanut butter all over some bread. I wiped off the grease and Prolink chain lube and submerged them deep into the jar of peanut butter. I did not tell Doren what I had done and he bit into the sandwich. He asked why it tasted like grease, and before I could answer, the race commissaire announced the start of the race.
As we drove the first lap of the course, I noticed how twisty and windy the course was. We also scoped out where the intermediate sprint was. The section right before it was a steep climb! The sprint could have easily been a KOM! The first lap was relatively uneventful in the car. In the race, however, it was another story. There were several breakaway attempts in the first few miles of the race. The commissaire was doing a great job of keeping the caravan updated. It seemed like every 10 seconds he was saying that a small group was attempting to break away and then getting caught. Finally, towards the end of lap 1, a break was established. As the commisaire called out numbers, Doren and I were hoping that he called Marcotte’s number. The commisaire not only called out Marcotte’s, he also called Christian Helmig’s! Our odds were high as we now had 2 Elbowz Racing riders in a 9 man break, leading into the first intermediate sprint. When the commisaire announced the results for the sprint, Doren and I gave each other high fives because Marcotte had won the first intermediate sprint and Helmig got 2nd! The race was going according to plan. They also had established a gap of about a minute and a half.
After the first intermediate sprint, we hear “Elbowz for feed” over the radio. Doren advances through the caravan and we see Sean “Sully” Sullivan in the back of the field. As Doren approaches Sully, he grabs a few bottles out of the ice chest. While Doren is giving Sully bottles, he tells Sully the news of our victory in the first sprint. Sully showed a huge smile and was ecstatic. As Doren is giving Sully bottles, he is also staying on the throttle in the car and keeping Sully near the peloton. Sully took about 6 bottles, and on the 7th bottle, Doren reached out to hand the last bottle up slipstream Sully back into the group. As Doren unleashed all 88.4 horses in our car, I hear a loud “POP!!!!” As soon as I heard the pop, I thought that we had thrown a rod in our car. Then, I saw Doren’s face. His face was ghost white. I immediately knew that the pop did not come from the car, but from Doren’s shoulder. When I realized that Doren’s shoulder was out of socket, I then began to wonder why Sully was still hanging onto the bottle that was still attached to Doren’s hand.
Sully eventually got back in the group and we eventually fell back in the caravan. I asked Doren if he was ok. He said he was fine and that he didn’t have a choice but to keep driving. He tried getting his shoulder back into place for about 2 minutes and then, “Elbowz for feeding” came over the radio. I knew there was no way that Doren could feed anyone. I also knew that Doren had just given Sully plenty of bottles. I thought that it may possibly be a mechanical problem and was ready to hop out of the car. As we approached the back of the peloton, I saw Heath Blackgrove holding a bottle. I was relieved that it was not a mechanical. I grabbed a couple bottles out of the ice chest, which was located in the front seat. As I looked to my left, I saw that I had no room to move myself close to the window because there were 2 wheel sets and a toolbox next to me. As we approached Heathy, Doren told him that his shoulder was out of socket and that I would be feeding out the backseat. Luckily, he was not really coming back for more bottles. Instead, he was ordering us to advance in front of the peloton and feed Helmig and Marcotte in the break. After he gave us the orders, Heath requested a bottle so that we could sling him back to the group. I was only able to hang my wrist out the window because of the toolbox and wheelsets, but I got Heath a bottle and a good sling from the car.
The break was about 1:45 up the road. I had to clear some space in the backseat so that I could feed our guys in the break. I grabbed 5 bottles out of the ice chest and moved the toolbox and 1 wheel set to the front seat. I now had room in the backseat, but it was now impossible to get more bottles out of the ice chest. We reached the breakaway at the same time that I had cleared my space. I have no idea how Doren managed to drive a Ford Festiva at warp speed with only one arm on such windy roads!! Helmig dropped back to our car to get some bottles. He gave a look of confusion when he saw my hand giving bottles out the back seat. I told him, “Feed from backseat. Doren’s shoulder is smoked!” He took enough bottles for him and Marcotte, as I slung him back on with the other riders. Doren then fell back behind the only other team car following the break, and he asked me to yank his arm back into place.
I am NOT a doctor. I am, however, pretty sure that it is not good for someone to have their shoulder out of socket for as long as he had. By the time I was able to start yanking his shoulder into place, it had been about 7 minutes. Once again, I am not a doctor and had never tried putting a shoulder back into place. I thought that if I pulled his arm hard enough, it would go right back into place. From the backseat, I pulled his arm with all of my strength. I pulled it left, right, up , and down. I was trying to use the winds and twists of the road for leverage to get it back in. I pulled and twisted his arm at maximum effort for about 10 minutes. We were not having any luck at getting it back in and Doren’s arm was going numb. I eventually moved Doren’s arm across his chest and lifted up on his humorous. I heard another “pop” followed by the biggest sigh of relief that I had ever heard. Doren’s shoulder was IN!!!
After our celebration of getting his shoulder back in, I had to situate the car so that I could effectively feed riders and change wheels if needed. I had to get the ice chest from the front seat to the back seat. Unfortunately, we could not pull over to do so. I am not sure if you have ever tried to move a loaded ice chest from the front seat to the back seat in a Ford Festiva, but let me tell you that there is not much room. It took the rest of my energy to muscle the ice chest and rest it on the headrest of the passenger seat. Unfortunately, while it was resting on the seat, Doren took one of the turns too hard and the ice chest fell over, spilling ice and bottles. Along with having an icy mess, Doren yelled to get it off of him because it had his good arm trapped to where he couldn’t steer the car, and it had his bad arm pinned against the door! Luckily, because most of the ice and water spilled, it lightened the ice chest enough for me to get it in the back seat.
After all of the chaos of popping Doren’s shoulder into place and situating the car, we went on to effectively feed all of our riders and we did not have any mechanicals on Stage 5. The race ended as the ice melted deep into the cloth seats of our Ford Festiva, as the chain lube digested in Doren and I’s stomach, as Doren’s shoulder began to throb with pain, and as our feeling of victory began to settle in as we knew that Marcotte had won the green jersey.
of the Cascade Cycling Classic: A View From The Elbowz Racing Team Car