Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 13th, 2008 at 11:51 am
at the Rapha Roller Race event Saturday night.
I had never been to a roller race before, but I got a taste of what it’s all about on Friday night. At the urging of a little voice inside by head I decided to try and quality for Saturday’s main event. “500 meters? How hard could it be? You used to be a hot-shot racer. You were a sprinting specialist — try it!,” said the voice.
I shouldn’t have listened.
Not only did I not qualify, but I needed the help and support of bystanders (thanks Elly) to keep me from completely losing it. My head spun, my stomach churned, my legs screamed.
I have to admit, part of my anticipation for Saturday’s Rapha Roller Race (held across the street and as part of the Oregon Manifest Bike Show) was to watch others suffer like I did.
There was plenty of suffering Saturday night, but it was hardly as interesting as everything else going on. Rapha put on a stellar exhibition of pedaling and pageantry that was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Teams showed up in all manner of costume, trying to outdo each other before even taking the stage.
In the green room (which reeked with a combination of icy/hot muscle cream and body odor) the athletes prepped and postured before being introduced.
Team Beer was nearly naked with tight briefs and their signature arm warmers. Gentle Lovers (men and women) wore 1980s jumpsuits about as well as you can wear them. Team Sabotage from Seattle invoked one of my favorite bands — the Beastie Boys — with their fake mustaches, dress shirts, and reflective, state trooper-issue sunglasses.
Even Team Zoobomb was there to represent (and represent they did).
Once it was showtime, the racing was brutal and the crowd was deafening.
As if a 20-25 second, 500 meter sprint (it’s longer and more painful than you think) wasn’t enough, once finished, each competitor had to dismount, grab a mini-bike from a pile (made possible by Zoobomb) and run a lap around the room. Rapha had set up a course complete with barricades, steep ramps, and plenty of beer-throwing maniacs.
The athletes were competing for custom frames (a Sweetpea for the ladies and a Signal for the gentlemen). So to make them earn it, the event officials added another 500 meter sprint after the mini-cross lap.
On the women’s side, Team River City’s Megan Farris pedaled to victory. Seattle-ite Craig Etheridge of Team Sabotage (who looked as if he barely broke a sweat!) stole the hometown thunder and took home the win.
Check out more sights and sounds from the action in the audio slideshow below (full photo gallery here):
I’ve also uploaded a short video to YouTube.