As we rolled up to the start line, the Race Director (Rich Paul) crackled out on his loudspeaker. He began a short speech, rehashed a thousand times over at every local Tuesday night crit in the nation. Safety-this, lap count-that. Premes, points, etc. Then suddenly his voice began to deepen. His banter into the loudspeaker slowed and his words sounded like they were being channeled from a higher power. The ground began to rumble beneath us and dark clouds emerged to blot out the sun. Rich paused, as a sudden silence fell on the normally chatty group. Without opening his mouth, the loudspeaker roared in the tongue of an ancient demon, “The winner of this day’s Air Center Criterium shall receive not one, but TWO no-holds bared, full-day tickets to thy fabled Wild Island Water Park!” In the distance, lighting crashed beyond the shadow of Mount Rose.
Those words, “Wild Island” were echoed as foreboding whispers throughout the group of forty competitors. Muscles tensed, sweat beads formed and veins began to throb with boiling blood. Lighting crashed again as the wind howled through the narrow race course.
United as teammates under the banner of Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing, the three of us stood among the restlessness at the line, patiently waiting for the race to start. Matthew Chappell, Nathan Freed and I, Nicholas James Schaffner, didn’t even need to exchange words. We knew the carnal pleasures of a slippery water slide under the beaming sierra sun on a hot Reno day. All it took was a quick wink between our trio, and a sacred silent pact was sealed to sacrifice legs, lungs and lives to acquire those tickets. Needless to say, much was on the line for this race, and shit was about to hit the fan…
Except it was super windy on the front side of the course, and the big swinging dicks in the peleton weren’t motivated to get away. Nate wasn’t making any ground with his attacks, Matt was studying the race from mid-pack and I didn’t feel like doing anything but following the fast wheels.
- Bubba Melcher (Team Clover)
- Nate Freed (Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing)
- Nick Schaffner (Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing)
In the end we had to mug Bubba in the darkened parking lot to get his tickets. It took all three of us to take him down. And that’s what I call teamwork.