Monday, May 12, 2008

Grass Roots Racing In Tribbey

Saturday, four of my coached athletes and I headed to the sleepy little town of Tribby, OK for a USCF sanctioned time trial. A few of my crew will be racing next weekend in Memphis, so I found it to be a good opportunity to let them “break the cobs out” on the bike before a short taper I had planned for this week. There is nothing like a race to boost the fitness. I find that you can’t get a better workout and recovery is fairly rapid from a bike race.

Tribby lies just to the east of Norman, OK and most of that region is dead flat. When I think time trial, I think flat. However, Doug Leib did a little research prior to the race and the course profile he found looked anything but flat. It was hilly. Matt Carnal’s Garmin measured over 2000 ft. of climbing. The distance was just less than 27 miles. There was a $1000.00 bonus for the rider with the fastest time under 1 hour. I think the organizers felt safe about not having to pay out this one. The Joe Martin stage race, a higher profile bicycle race, was concurrently being held in Arkansas this weekend so many of the top riders in the area were racing there instead.

The time trial started at what appeared to be an old café. It looked like it had been quite a long time since this café had served any patrons. There are health codes now, and it didn’t look like this place would pass any of them. I would have to be pretty hungry to stop here for a bite. The building was a makeshift shack with some very old gas pumps out front, the kind of pumps that would require an attendant to pump the gas for you. This place appeared to be the center of town at one time because in the front of the building was a bell with a wrought iron sign with the words “Tribby“around it.

Tribby looked like a town that had seen its better days in the 1950’s to 70’s. Today, from what I saw, it appeared in a state of decay. Some of these old towns in Oklahoma look like they have been lost in time. If it weren’t for the cyclists decked out in space age aero helmets and disc wheels, we could very well have imagined ourselves to be back in the 1960’s.

This race was in its eleventh year and there was a good turnout. Of the total population of 310, none of the townies appeared to be lining the road with their cowbells. However, a few dogs ran out to meet us on the course. I think the drum rolling sound of the disc wheels scared them off, because I didn’t get the usual mad chasing dog response. Maybe the dogs were just a little more laid back in Tribby.

The start and finish line was silver duct tape rolled across the road and an analog clock was taped to a stake sticking up just beside the line. This was grass roots cycling at its best. We were sent off at one-minute intervals. Despite our attempts to disguise ourselves, the roadies knew we were triathletes. The profile aero bottles must have given us away. There is a known disdain roadies have for triathletes wherever you go. I don’t know why. Triathlon has done a lot for cycling; Lemond’s aero bars, and of course, Lance Armstrong. We might get somewhat squirrelly in a finishing sprint, but the time trial is the triathlete’s element. Its how we train, it’s what we do. Some of the roadies were overheard mentioning, “I just want to smoke the triathletes”

The race went very well for all of us. The triathletes dominated the top three spots overall. Our times even eclipsed the Cat 1-2-3 group. Stephen Groden was first in 1:04, Matt Carnal second with a 1:06, and Sean Stevens was third with a 1:08. I caught and passed five people ahead of me and had a good ride despite feeling like crap when I woke up that morning. I didn’t feel like going but this whole thing was my idea and I was committed to it. It hurt but I still managed to place second in the 40 plus category with a 1:10. Doug Lieb was 4th on his new Cervelo P3C. Steve Scace competed too and also had a solid effort.

Following the race, Matt and Steve, the top two guys, took their shirts off and went for a run. They ran a couple of loops back and forth across the starting line and made sure that everyone noticed them. I got a chuckle out of it because they were running much faster than a usual transition run. It was an obvious taunting move. The roadies piped up “Hey, did you guys swim today too?” It was too funny.


mcarnal said...

The Boyz of Summer!!! I wrote this back in March, Rob's picture reminded me of college ball and what it was like to be part of a team!

Just wanted to say "Thanks" for the crew that went down to Tribbey for the race, and making me feel at home here in Tulsa!

"When the day throws you a curve, hit that son' bitch out to the wall in center for a double, take the lead and steal third, after getting sacrificed in soak up the pats on the ass and the high-fives! Every day should feel like those few precious moments!!! So when you're down or feel alone just think of those feelings when you were on second and about to steal third, true you were running alone, but that moment passed as quick as it had come...and soon you were back with the boyz of summer that refined your potential!!!"

PS Rob, you misspelled Tribbey and it looks kind of bad with the sign you're leaning on!

Rob Chance said...


I misspelled Tribbey intentionally to see who would catch it ;) You might not have won the TT, but you won the Tribbey spelling contest. That’s right. You won an expenses free vacation to Tribbey, OK. You will enjoy lovely accommodations in the trailer outside the Tribbey café and enjoy three square meals a day at the luxurious café. Congratulations.

BTW, Thanks for the comments. When I started this coaching group I didn’t expect us to form a little team, however that is what we have become. It definitely makes coaching satisfying to see you guys succeed the way you are.