The torrential rains from the previous two days had knocked out the landline and sole communications link to the Kitten Compound out in Haterville. So when for a brief couple seconds the email kicked on before sputtering off again Saturday morning showing 20 new emails, the hopes for a good turnout for the second running of the Madison-Basco- Madison Spring Classic:H8TR100 began to dwindle. The prior weather had been vicious with nature turning the H8TR Trail into its own cyclo-cross course complete with downed trees, deep freshly cut ravines, standing water and mud. That along with the promises of snow. sleet and a stiff north wind had the kittens rubbing their paws with glee! But would the people come or would there end up being just a handful of hardcore devotees of suffering? The Kittenmaster had done his best to scare off the faint of heart with dire descriptions of what to expect if the trail was in even good condition so with winter coming back for one last death rattle the Master of Kittens began to think he might have done his job too well.
Arriving at Tenney Park on the northeast side of Madison, the volunteers began to assemble along with a couple early arrivals. The first sign that things might go well was the discovery that the rented picnic shelter had walls and was heated. The idea of burning picnic tables for warmth had crossed the minds of the H8TR staff earlier on but now it seemed that wouldn't be necessary. Then with a trickle and then a flood the hardcore handful swelled to a total of 66 riders all ready for the long haul. With one concession to sanity it was decided that because of the extremeness weather (snow and rain at post time) coupled with the brick wall head wind that would accompany riders on the way back in, the course was abbreviated to an 80K distance and would make its turnaround in Belleville. Suffering is one thing, a death march is another...People were checked in (thank you Billy and Chris!), spoke cards were handed out, rules were read and with that the H8T Train took off through Madison. Due to a 10K run going on in the Arboretum at the same time as the H8TR we took off down the Southwest bike corridor for a direct shot to the the H8TR Trail. The Kitten Master giggled uncontrollably and grinned at the sight of 66 bikes riding behind him. Once Midvale Blvd was crossed the flag went down and they were off! By the time the peloton crossed the Beltline a group of 6-7 breakaways had gone off the front with smaller and larger packs of riders working together to keep the H8TR Train rolling. With the wind at their backs the trip out to Belleville was faster than anyone could have imagined. Even a couple flat tires for Frank and Patti couldn't keep them from bridging back up and getting back into contention. Where's help? Where's help??? This time there was help! At the Belleville turnaround manned by Roy and D*Pow, paperbag musettes with 4 tootsie rolls, a handful of Doritos and a can of PBR or Hamm's waited to nourish redlined riders. Almost all except for the all business breakaway stopped and enjoyed (?) a quick snack before turning back into the hell of the north. On the way out to B-ville there were averages of 26 mph. On the way back....9 mph wasn't unheard of. In fact the short 2 mile section of highway pavement turned out to be the worst part of the course. Brutal winds and stinging ice pellets rained down trying to crush spirits and kill dreams but those dreams would not be killed!
The front group called a truce as they pedaled through Madison, vowing they wouldn't attack until the very end. Then disaster! Lylez flatted! The arm went up! Where was help? Where was help? There was no help! Lylez changed the tube and struck out to catch the leaders but then disaster struck again! On the home stretch Lylez got another flat! This time there was no tube along with no help! But Lylez never say die attitude carried the day as he picked up the bike and ran the rest of the way to the park! There, there was help! Grabbing D-Pow's old Schwinn single speed cruiser, Lylez took off again to finish the last 5 miles of hill climbs through the posh neighborhoods of Maple Bluff. There were unconfirmed reports that the Governor came out to the fence of his mansion to watch this segment of the race, but it might have been the groundskeeper raking up last fall's leaves. What it finally came down to was a 4 man sprint to the finish. In the end Scot Van Asten, Maciej Nowak and Cory Gwin (last year's champ) crossed the finishline 1,2 and 3. In the women's field there was no less drama with Angie Theriualt, Patti Kaufmann and Katy Snaks taking the 1-2-3 honours. Andrea took honours as DFL with Ben just making it through the door before her. Team Pgasus outta Milwaukee won the team points comp. Well done all!
An awards ceremony followed complete with a champaigne shower. Once again huge thanks are due to our sponsors:
Now it's time to focus on the coming race season and also to get back to the smaller, simpler things in life like 24MOTAB. Ideas are already afoot for next year's M-B-M Spring Classic but that's at the bottom of a pint glass several months down the line.
H8T on everybody, H8T on.
photos courtesy of Mr. Robin Davies