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Breaking Away with Mellow Johnny's
"Crystal Frontier" by Calexico www.casadecalexico.com
July 12, 2009
By the time the temperature hit 100º we had already been outside for hours. Setting up folding chairs, making sure the pop up tents were in place, that at least the DJ had some shade. It was almost unthinkable that people would actually be racing their bikes in heat like this. Something must happen to the residents of Austin, TX because they walk around like the heat doesn't affect them. In fact they seem to function rather well in it, even pulling out their bicycles to race in it.
The event came about as a brainstorm between Rapha and Mellow Johnny's GM's Slate Olson and Craig Staley as their effort to pay tribute to the 1979 Academy Award winning film Breaking Away. A race was proposed that would emulate the iconic final scene of the film where the characters compete in the "Little 500" that happens still at the Indiana University campus each year. In the film, with a heroic display of athleticism, the Italian-loving 'Cutter', Dave Stoller pulls out the win for his team despite a nasty leg injury. His true grit, pride and sheer love of racing force him back onto the bike, going so far as taping his feet to the pedals. The race triumphantly ends with Stoller motoring through the final corners for the glorious victory.
Our version of the race would be simple and although we planned it, turned out to be surprisingly similar to the racing in the movie. Teams of four race their bikes 300 laps around a school track (interestingly, the school that Rapha Condor racer, and 2009 British National Champion, Kristian House attended growing up in Austin) to find out who could pedal their Bianchi Pistas the fastest. Would it be the Michael Jackson themed "It's Getting Hot in Here" team of four women in matching sequined gloves? Or the pink coated fabled "Woolly Mammoth" team? Would they be able to bring their own version of "romancing" to the whole event? Or, would the "Sativa Rollers" be able to stoke their way across the line first?
When the gun finally went off the temperature was hovering around 106º making it hard to see how these characters could even keep it together on the bike. One of the teams played it right, wearing nothing but, well, Speedos and mustaches. Aptly named "Speed and Mustaches", this team might have chosen the best racing outfits for the weather.
The pace was blistering right from the get go with Sativa Rollers star Jed Rogers on the front the majority of the first half. It became quickly apparent transitions were the key to success, teams were losing a lot of time because of messy handoffs. The Rollers set themselves apart by all but avoiding them, putting and leaving Jed out to do the lion's share of the work early on as the racers settled in.
The one downturn to the evening was when local luminary Adam Biechlin of the Woolly Mammoths went down with a touch of wheels and came up (or rather didn't) with a broken collar bone. When the ambulance parted the crowd to take him away the track fell silent with concern for their fallen comrade. But a Hulk Hogan-esque thumbs up by Adam from the stretcher let his crowd know that he was in good spirits and would soon be on the mend. And with that, the racing was back on.
It did look as though the Woolly Mammoth team now had a renewed sense of purpose as they started to pull back a once slipping lead. One of theirs had gone down and now they were racing to win it for Adam. Pouring their guts out onto the track to make sure that their man had not gone down in vain. Inspired, the same way that Dennis Quaid's character rode when Stoller went down.
But when the checkered flags started waving it was the Sativa Rollers who were victorious, holding off the strong charging "Zooma Zoom Zoom and a Boom Boom!" team. Racing the final 50 laps, Jed sat on the front through the final turns and threw up his arms as he crossed the finish line. It was like Boonen coming onto the Roubaix Velodrome, Cavendish on the Champs Elysees and of course Dave Stoller all rolled into one.
- There are still a few of these sweet Rapha + Raeburn jackets at the SF @raphacycleclub. http://t.co/C2d98yCRL0
- The hills above. #raphasurvey http://t.co/jlIkXowxyT
- U23 winner in 2012 what's in store for @RichHandley90 in the @anpostras http://t.co/xyZWX3NbtG
- Sunday morning race day, church car park scene. @anpostras #ras2013 http://t.co/2E1UlfAxhe
- Will all these numbers be able to wear the coveted t-shirt in one weeks time? #menoftheras #ras2013 http://t.co/ai1oqnDIyh
- Team about to start the @anpostras probably the Worlds friendliest race.
- RT @nedboulting: Kristian House's Grandad was a fantastic man. He told me about him once. Then I read this: http://t.co/ZCeYbm4sFU
- @DeanHardman @nedboulting @j_t_locke such a shame...
- @TeamSkyGirl @nedboulting @j_t_locke we've asked JTL to change his name.
- RT @Ed_Clancy: Watch @raphacondor team mate Kristian House take another win (and lap me in the process) around his favourite circuit to…