Darkside Classic 2014
On Sunday, September 7, 17 road cyclists gathered in the Rehoboth Fitness Center parking lot to enter into the second annual Darkside Classic. Like last year, racers went from Rehoboth to 66, west to MacGaffey, south on 402 to the gravel and back again ending on the high point on the bridge heading to the gas plant north of Rehoboth. Also like last year, there were some format elements that made this road race different than a straightforward, first finisher across the line wins type of contest. Instead, all participants were divided into teams with four or five members each and the finishing placement of the third rider would determine the winning team.
Here is how the race went down in chapter installments…
I. THE PHANTOM MENACE(s)
There was a great deal of conversation and inquiry surrounding team makeup. This was only accelerated when John Rogers and Jimi signed up through the Gallup group list. Everyone wanted to know who Jimi was and whether anyone had ridden with John lately. How would this affect teams? How fit was Chad? Was Kevin ready to fire up the downhill train? Was Chuck healthy? Would Kantor(dor) bring the hurt? The long and short of it was, that no one knew anything about anyone’s fitness and now everyone cared. Do we not ride together anymore?
II. ATTACK OF THE CLONES
Has there been a local event that Scotty hasn’t attacked and some sucker or suckers try to go with him? Ooops, I just threw myself under the bus…this year’s Darkside was no different as Bob and Scott of Team Red attacked the peloton just after rolling across the predetermined start line of the second railroad crossing. I joined the break and the peloton was content to let us go up the road until…
III. REVENGE OF THE SITH (Peloton)
Halfway up the mountain somewhere between Milk Ranch and Hillso, I had to stop to do a bike adjustment. Once I remounted, imagine my surprise to be joined by Chad and Chuck of Team Green. It seems that the earlier lackadaisical nature of the peloton was over and the chase was on for the breakaway. Chad, Chuck, and I joined and chased Bob and Scotty eventually catching and passing them around mile marker 9. We crested over Danoff and I eased off waiting to see and regroup with my team as Chuck and Chad slipped ahead and then Bob and Scott.
IV. A NEW HOPE (of it all coming back together)
This strategy of regrouping at the top was consistent among all the groups except for Team Red as Bob and Scott kept pushing down the hill at top speed in an effort to get the maximum advantage. Groups crested in groups of twos and threes from different teams as earlier team members backpedaled and shouted encouragement. On the early descending slopes around Danoff, a new situation emerged as Team Green (Chuck, Chad and Lloyd) joined by Greg of Team Black and CRW3 of Team Red began pushing the pace while Team White with Kevin, Jen and I were a few yards back and gave chase. It turns out that Team Black was within striking distance with Kantor(dor) and Nate Bia nearing the group but a gravel crash by Josh distanced them such that there was never any contact.
Team Green took inventory of the situation and realized that CRW3 was the 3rd and winning man of the race for Team Red and made an all out effort to shed him from the group just as Team White was tenuously making contact. Tense turns and efforts ensued but eventually the group was established with three Team Green members, three Team White members, a Team Black member, and the third Team Red member all scorching down the mountain and through Wingate to 66 while trying to maintain team membership while exploiting other team members weaknesses as we all realized that Scott and Bob were well up the road. Or were they…
V. THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
With approximately three miles to go to the finish, as individuals and teams were sending fliers up the road to break up the established group and gain an advantage for the win, it is discovered that Scotty has mysteriously and quietly joined the group. It seems that he sent Bob on his way to the finish line, hid behind some gravel along 402 and chased back on once the group passed. Just as that truth settles in, Bob was sighted by the peloton and the baying of hounds began. Both Team White and Green began to chase while Scotty attempted to verbally dissuade the efforts. “Why are you going so fast?” he asked Lloyd of Team Green while Lloyd was giving it the long femur effort. But Bob as the rabbit was not be denied as all members fixated on catching that elusive but provocative blue jersey carrot. Among Team White, none were more determined than Jen to catch Bob. After a particular bruising effort by Team White, I asked Jen if she was ready to have another high speed go and busting up the group. “Just….catch…..Bob!” she managed between gulps of air.
Within a quarter mile of the finish, the catch was made. Scotty made a jump and crossed the finish line first with Chad, Chuck and Lloyd of Team Green crossing next and winning the event.
VI. RETURN OF THE JEDI(s)?
This year’s effort again proved the resurgence of the Darkside among the Gallup community. Often self-described as mountain bikers, the Rez Dog riders are capable road riders who ride hard but also possess the roadie mentality for suffering and inflicting pain. Can there be any turning back or is this ragtag bunch of Rez Dogs given over to the power of the Darkside? Only the Screamer will tell.