Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Ultra Race Recap Video

It's a crisp, cloudless morning, and ATC's parking lot is filled with startlingly provocatorio men be-coveralled and be-squareglassed (and fierce-looking nonetheless). Every two minutes, teams of five ride off into the sunrise with cue sheets in pocket, ready to traverse the recently revealed route of 100 miles. This, mio amico, is Wooly Mammoth's 1st Ultra Provocatorio Invitationale, sponsored by the Law Office of Bradley Houston, Tacodeli, DNA Distributing, Specialized, Velocite, and yours truly, the illustrious and magnifico ATC.
Photo by Melinda Steele
Race participants hail from far and wide. Handsome five-somes of Wooly Mammoths, Bicycle Sport Shopians, Shamas, VC Legends, Bicycle Intellectuals, Party Timers, and more streak down the route from Lamar to Southwest Parkway to Fitzhugh and out to the middle-of-nowhere-are-we-still-even-in-Texas countryside.

ATC's team is composed of seven participants, who though having exchanged many an emailed excuse in the preceding weeks, are all re-committed to competition on race morning. Pro triathletes Brandon and Amy Marsh lead the team, with stragglers Corey May, George Schmitz, Missy Ruthven, Jack Mott, and Kat Hunter bringing up the (somewhat distant) rear. This team, with its two ambiguous alternates, has no illusions -- since the finishing time is determined by the team's last finishers rather than its first, the glory will not be in winning the race, but in completing it.

Photo by Melinda SteeleAnd this is harder than one might expect. Though sunny, it's cold and windy, and the juniper trees are releasing clouds of chalk-like pollen that coat the tongue (extra calories, or bodily invasion?) and inspire sporadic fits of sneezing. Some parts of the route are very narrow and winding, and when teams catch or pass one another, fast-moving packs of jumbled kits form, a giant amoeba tightening and expanding like an accordion. At the back of such a group, two intrepid ATCers meet their match at a low-water crossing. (Three-time IM champion Amy, seeing the carnage in front of her, wisely walks her bike across the raging trickle.) The pack pauses briefly to survey the damage, and finding that no limbs or bodily organs are lost, moves on. To the friendly fellow who said, "Ah, it's the triathletes": Where's the love? Are you jealous of our superior bike-handling skills and aerodynamics? Keep up the mockery and we'll request that next year's route include a 2.4-mile swim.

In addition to the challenges of the course and staying upright, trying to keep up with Brandon and Amy Marsh may very well be considered a health hazard in itself. This futile attempt lasts until the 50-mile checkpoint, where after filling up on food, water, and bellyaching, in typical triathlete fashion the ATCers split up. Brandon and Amy reach the speed of light, George is eaten by dragons near Dripping Springs, Corey begins a solo race, and Missy, Kat, and Jack are slowed by mechanical problems (yes, the other competition lucked out -- only such mechanical problems could prevent total domination).
Velocite Noir 38/50

And the race organizers add a touch of sadism at mile 90 -- Lost Creek and its infamous hills are part of the return route. But some of the pain and agony (SOME) is made up for at the Tacodeli finish, where there's free beer, cheap tacos, and a raffle for great prizes, including a brand new, sparkling set of carbon wheels donated by DNA Distributing.

The Ultra Provocatorio might perhaps be better termed the Ultra Purgatorio, but we'll wait until we find an Italian dictionary to submit our suggestion to the committee.

So how do you sign up next year? Work on your ultraness by making large donations to the Wooly Mammoth cycling team and establishing yourself as the greatest cyclist who ever lived. Or, well, just email Chris Trickey and beg.

See you out there. And stay tuned for Wooly Mammoth's video documentary of the event.

Congrats to the winners:

1st place: The Elegant Bastards, captained by Eardie Curry
2nd place: Squadra Delliziosa, captained by Alex Rodriguez
3rd place: The Woodsmen, captained by Brant Speed (and featuring four 15 year olds from Houston)

And many thanks to the providers of schwag and tasty things:

Thanks to Melinda Steele for the excellent photography

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