Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 ElliptiGO Spring Classic: a fantastic duel to the top of Castle Hill

This weekend was a great weekend for ElliptiGO riders from all over the United States.The 2015 ElliptiGO Spring Classic brought us all together for social rides, a race, and  an opportunity to just spend fun time together with other ElliptiGO riders.

On Friday,we had a group ride to get in some miles on the following day's race course as well as to get some mileage in for the ElliptiGO Every Day in May Challenge where riders try to hit one of three levels of riding each day of the month (5 miles, 10 miles, or 20 miles).  Riders came from all over: California, Arizona, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, and other states to this event on the North Shore of Massachusetts.

Saturday morning was the race. The previous two editions of the race were held in Hingham, MA in August and thus was called the ElliptiGO End of Summer Classic. I won both the 2013 End of Summer Classic and 2014 End of Summer Classic races, but wasn't feeling as confident for the Spring Classic due to the lack of outdoor training on hills during the winter. But, I was excited to race (actually real jittery), knowing there was some serious competition this year. I told myself that this would probably be my only race of the year (unless my hip somehow gets better) and so I was going to make sure it was the best 10 minutes of racing I could muster.

The race was a straight 5K with a 180 degree turn-around at about the 2 mile mark before riding back on the course and then a finish up a winding path to the top of Castle Hill. The morning had a brisk chill in the air and a pesky wind that would be in our faces for the first part of the race.

I could go on and on about the race, but I will leave it at this. It was the most exciting, nerve-wracking, exhilarating, and just plain fun race that I have participated in during my over 40 years of competitive racing. I tried my usual tactic of just sprinting off the starting line and getting distance on all the other competitors as soon as I could and then just hope to "claim" the race from that moment on. It worked real well last year, but this year Jeff Caron was ready for my initial move. Once I thought, I might I have achieved my goal after around 30 seconds or so I turned around to see if I had done any damage. I got a lump in my throat as Jeff and his ElliptiGO slid by me and right into the lead. The race was on!

Heading toward the finish line side by side.. Photo by Vic Pearson

In my private fantasy world, the race turned into Haile Gebrselassie vs, Paul Tergat in an Olympic final. It was a preview of that night's Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquuiao title match. It was Red Sox versus Yankess. More reality based, it was simply two junior high boys on their bicycles racing to the corner candy shop full tilt. Indeed the race was truly a neck and neck battle of back and forth surges all the way to the finish line. There was many moments when I was micro-seconds away from just conceding the race and being proud of a 2nd place showing to a far superior and younger athlete.

At the last moment before the race, I decided to put my Polaroid XS100 HD Sports Camera on my ElliptiGO and filmed the race from the front of my GO and I am glad that I did. The video shows the lead changes and the speed and effort of an ElliptiGO rider whenever Jeff gets right in front of me. I don' t think we were ever separated by more than a second or two during the entire race and in the end we ended up with the same time and I was just lucky to be the guy in the front at that moment. For all it was worth, the win didn't matter as much as how much fun it really was to duke it out on our GO's because that was such a thrilling ride all the way to the finish line.

Here is the finish line photo!

photo by Vic Pearson
Jeff Caron is a very accomplished runner with many outstanding races and victories in major events. I have some minor more personal accomplishments in all my racing through the years.. A little ElliptiGO race is really not that notable in any scheme of things, but it wasn't the race that was important, it was the absolute fun of racing together neck and neck without either of us giving an inch. I also think such a race was totally unexpected on an ElliptiGO. Here is what Jeff wrote after the race,

"Thank you, Jim Hansen,  for giving me one of the greatest racing battles I've ever had at yesterday's ElliptiGO Spring Classic. I initially thought a 5K wouldn't be long enough to get this kind of a race between two ElliptiGOs, but I was proven wrong as Jim and I were both pressing from the start, separated by no more than 10m the entire race, back and forth lead changes about 6-7 times, finishing on an epic hill climb and an even greater finish!"
I had the same sentiments as I had written, "Thanks Jeff Caron for the epic back and forth battle and pushing this broken-down runner in such an intense, thrilling, and nerve-wracking ride all the way to the top of Castle Hill."

So if you ever want to experience breakneck and exhilarating racing, get yourself an ElliptiGO and meet us at next year's race!

Here is a video from the finish line showing the finishers completing the race:

And here are the race results.
Photo after the race. This was a beautiful place to end a race!

The day after, we got together one final time for another group ride around Gloucester, MA. One thing I notice about ElliptiGO riders is how fun and happy they are to be able to ride. I  never wanted to be the older hobbling runner plodding down the street trying to get some miles in while pretending to be younger and more capable. These runners look so depressed as they trudge along! I watched as my ElliptiGO friends, some in their late 60s and early 70s scampered up some pretty steep hills and maintained a pretty quick pace as we did our 20 mile ride. And they all had gigantic smiles on their faces!


Love the appropriate words on this famous statue, "They that GO down to the sea..."

The race was fun, if not really meaningful to anyone beyond the participants. It was a blast meeting and riding with new and old ElliptiGO friends around the beautiful North Shore, but to me there was an even more meaningful element to the weekend. Race director, John Childs, who did an excellent job putting together the race and weekend contacted me a few weeks before the race. He was wondering if race could be used in some way to raise some funds for my work in Kenya in the slums of Nairobi where I work in the schools.  I will be going for my third trip this summer to the Mathare Valley and it is a passion of mine that gets me excited even more so than riding my ElliptiGO.

John Childs, me, and Francois Lamonthe
We decided that it would be a wonderful goal to see if the ElliptiGO community could raise support to send one child to school for a year at one of the school's where I work. It costs $38 a month to provide the schooling (the city does not provide education for children in the slum) and that cost also gives the child two healthy meals a day and some medical care. Some of the participants have decided to help out by donating a month's support. I am just thrilled for any amount of money as the average person in the slum earns about $1 per day. A little bit of money from America goes a long way in Kenya. By supporting a child, we can start to give that child a future (education is the key) so that he or she can raise themselves above the extreme poverty and hopelessness of the slum.

At the awards ceremony, one of the prizes for top racers was a beautiful print of a painting by Francois Lamonthe of three ElliptiGOs crossing the finish line in front of the beautiful castle that marked the end of the hill and of the race. As I understand it, the actual painting was to be sent to ElliptiGO headquarters in CA, but head ElliptiGO guy, Bryan Pate had a better idea. He said to have a silent auction at the race and use the proceeds for Missions of Hope in Kenya to help sponsor a child. I am pleased to say that the painting now has a wonderful home and that the actual bid was generously rounded up and that more than half a year of a child's education is paid for already from that painting alone. I can only imagine the relief of a parent from the Mathare Valley slum knowing that their child can now attend school and receive an education and not go hungry. I love seeing two of my passions merge together in a meaningful way. I can't wait to meet this "ElliptiGO" child this July!

The race finish was even closer than Francois imagined in his painting!
I just want to thank all my friends in the ElliptiGO community who came out to race, support the racers, or to ride in one of the rides. Thanks to John Childs for organizing such a wonderful race. and weekend There was a 5k run too! Thanks to Francois Lamothe for painting a beautiful painting so that award winners could have a wonderful reminder of the race and weekend and for donating his painting to help out with my work in Kenya. Thanks again to John Childs for coming up with the idea of helping out in Kenya. It is not that he didn't have a lot of stuff to do already. And thanks to Jeff Caron for not only helping out all weekend, but for providing such a fun and memorable battle during the race. Somehow, I think that next year, he will know just what to do to get the win!

No comments: