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Ryan Barrett's Peloton Tales: Slain by a Vampire
By Ryan Barrett
Date: 3/3/2005
Ryan Barrett's Peloton Tales: Slain by a Vampire

Mostly everybody in the states knows Chris Walker is a bad dude since he won Elite (amateur) Nationals last year at the ripe old age of 42. I, on the other hand, learned this lesson all too well back in 2001 at the Pomona Valley Stage Race. I was scheming the other day on how I might fly in and out for this race (now called the San Dimas Stage Race) in a couple weeks. While I didnít come up with a way to get out there, I did remember this story of Old Man Walker literally destroying the field.

They used to run this race in June. If youíve ever been to this area [in Southern California] in June, you know it is hot. If youíve never been to this area in June, donít. It is insanely hot and smoggy. Hell for most riders, but ideal conditions for Walker to work his black magic.

The road race is 90 miles. As it was during Philly week, J Bausch and I were the only ones there from NetZero, as we had both gotten the big diss for the big show. I had ridden my traditionally crappy time trial the day before, so I resigned myself to go in the early break to allow Bausch to save himself for the end. J. had finished 3rd behind mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez and Walker.

So the break goes with about 15 guys on the second of 12 laps, but we are not going real fast. Although it is early, the temperature is already nearing 100 (about 38C) and nobody wants to work too hard. Apparently, the field is even more lackadaisical, as even with our relaxed pace, we are quickly putting time into them.

A photo of the vampire hiding his bloodshot eyes behind some sweet shades. Photo by Jaime Nichols, California State Championships.

Out of nowhere Walker comes across to us by himself. Donít ask me how the 2nd placed G.C. guy jumps away from the field alone, this is just the kind of trick Walker can pull. Does Walker rest when he tags on the back of the break? No. No. NO. He goes straight through our group and ups the tempo. For the next probably sixty miles no one else even takes a pull. We are all withering in the heat, but Walker is just flying. I honestly donít remember seeing him eat or drink anything the entire race. He gradually grinds the group down to just five guys: Walker, me, Greg Medinilla, Pat Caro, and a Webcor guy whose name I donít remember.

With about a lap and half to go, Walker stands up on the feed hill and just rides away. No one even bothers responding. We start rotating at the top of the climb, but everyone knows the race is over. Walker puts 3 minutes into us in the last 10 miles. With a mile or so to the finish, I jump away from the rest and hang on for second. On this day, it was almost as good as winning because there was no way I was gonna stop Walker. The full extent of his damage wasnít known until the field rolled in some 16 minutes later.

* For the second column in a row, I find myself explaining a nickname. As far as I know, the Vampire moniker was coined by Team Labor Power before Walker joined their crew. As mentioned, you never see the guy eat or drink, so one can only assume that he feasts on blood at the end of the day. On the other hand, as evidenced in this story, he has no fear of daylight, and as skinny as he is, I have my doubts as to whether he eats at all.

* Thanks to astute reader Andrew Wilson of Long Beach, California, for pointing out that I had incorrectly attributed a quote to Dr. Evil in my last column, when it was in fact his nemesis Austin Powers.

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