Nov 2004


Senior Racing
by Claudia Ribet

Photos by Bill Mock

Claudia and Bill

Although the season for you real racers ends by autumn, October is the month of the Huntsman World Senior Games, a multi-sport set of races and games attended by thousands of senior (50+) athletes (330 cyclists) in St. George, Utah. It is also the month of the Nevada Senior Olympics, a small race I attended to qualify for the 2005 National Senior Games.

Last year, when I competed as a novice in the Huntsman Games, the only La Grange jersey I saw was on my back. This year, along with me, Lee Dribin competed at the Huntsman Games, and Robert Rasner competed in the Nevada Senior Olympics. We all came home with medals.

We are none of us experienced racers, to say the least. As one of our illustrious members said as I was leaving to compete in the San Diego Omnium in June, “Why do you need to travel to San Diego to get dropped when you can accomplish this task so easily on a Tuesday ride?” The answer is I compete for the sheer thrill and challenge of the effort; for the camaraderie with female and male racers; and for the learning experiences, of which there are plenty.

I surely don't always go for the scenery. After looking at the map, Bill Mock said that Rasner and I would be racing in Nevada in “B-F nowhere.” We sure did - there was nothing around us but occasional scrub and a state correctional institution. Bob and I competed in four races in two days. On Saturday, we completed a 10k time trial and a 20k road race. On Sunday, we raced in a 5k time trial and a 40k road race. All four of these events exist in the national senior games, and one must podium in each of the races statewide to qualify to compete nationally. Since there were only two women in my category in Nevada , qualification was a “given.” I am proud to say, however, that I took the gold medal in the 10k time trial. I caught my competition with coach Nate Loyal's words in my head, “the pain is only temporary.” I now can compete in the National Games in Pittsburgh in June 2005. (Who would want to go to Pittsburgh in June?)

Bob, who joined La Grange two years ago at the age of 62, came to racing late in life. After being “encouraged” by me (his words – "brow-beaten", my words), Bob agreed to come to Nevada . Bob concentrated his training on the 10k TT, which he won with a first-place finish!

After Nevada , Bill Mock and I moved onto St. George, Utah. I strongly recommend this event to our “older” members: Many of you would walk away with first place podium finishes in all four races held over the week. St. George is 50 miles from magnificent Zion National Park. It is a beautiful town with lovely people. Lee Dribin and I competed with 328 other cyclists, each of whom was passionate enough to dedicate a week of vacation to racing with like-minded people

Claudia - Hillclimb Podium

Claudia and Bob

Lee - Hilclimb Podium

In my age category there were four races: a three-mile hill climb; a 40k TT; a criterium, and a 50k road race. I raced with more serious competition than in Nevada . I only competed in the hill climb and crit, and accomplished second place finishes in both in the 50-54 year old PublicB women division. Lee Dribin won a gold medal among novice men riders of his age group in the grueling time trial (beating the novice record by a full 1.06), came in third at the hill climb (but beat last year's novice winning time), and second in a 37k road race. I am particularly proud of my second place crit result because it came with some modest success in attempting to execute strategy. Again, following Nate's guidance, I stayed within several inches of the wheel of my strongest competition for 11.5 of 13 laps. I believed she was less competent on turns and up hills (there was a small rise at the the end), so I bolted before the last lap. Unfortunately, my competition had the legs and lungs at the end, and I did not. I put down the hammer too soon and she responded. She came around me at the very end cheerfully saying “Hi there!” Gadzooks! (Ok, a different word came out of my mouth at the time.)

My love and thanks goes to Bill Mock, soigneur and friend extraordinaire. Bill is responsible for all of the pictures, and for supporting me through self-doubts, during lousy (and a few good) meals, long drives, and endless conversations about how to approach a particular race.

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