Little Man Plays in the Mud: Gottwald takes 3rd at Melting Man

March 22nd, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors

By Chris Gottwald, Team OAM Now Cyclist


melting man dirtyDo you remember as a kid, when the warm weather hit, putting on your swim suit to go ride your bike in the rain? What about riding through mud puddles and the absolute satisfaction we felt when we got a little bit, or a lot, dirty? While many of us are currently dreaming about sporting our swim suits, let me tell you about playing in the mud!

While my childhood cycling career started at age 7 on a BMX bike, I took a 30-year hiatus from playing in the mud. That all changed on March 8th at the 2nd annual Melting Man gravel road race. I told the promoter to change the name to “Freezing your butt off while riding on a course made up of Michigan’s best ice rinks, snow drifts and mud puddles,” but he said it would not fit on the t-shirt! I guess Melting Man it is.

Truth be told, if you were not there, you missed out! It was one of the most fun events I have participated in, topped off by a great post race party. The goal for me was to get a good work out and I have to say: I got a great deal. For only about 50 bucks, I got to pedal so hard I was bleeding from my eye sockets for about two hours (not really). For my effort, I got a trip to the podium (3rd place), a nice medal, and a t-shirt that I still think needs a new (albeit longer) name.

The day started out cold and cloudy, about 25 degrees. Two hours later, it was sunny and just above freezing. For the last 30 years, I have raced only road and track events, so this was a real novelty for me. The EMTs were busy even before the start, picking up people who had fallen over from word which spread quickly, “Did you see that Gottwald is here on a Fatty?”

My plan was to hang with the cross bikes as long as possible and then just see what happened. Well, the gun went off, and right away the race split from nearly 300 folks to several groups of 10-15 riders. Within the first 1 mile, there were several crashes due to ice, mud, snow and lots of ruts in the course. I quickly found myself in what I think was the 2nd group as the only dude on a Fatty. A few miles later, I was trying to find my groove some where between the lead group and chase group. That effort resulted in a 7 mile individual time trial by some skinny guy on a fatty (me). I was swallowed up by the 2nd group again and the jokes started flying. “Dude you’re hauling ass on a K-Mart bike” and “You’re the smallest guy on the heaviest bike.” My favorite quip? “When is the last time you ate something other than what food eats?” It took me a minute…I had to think about that one!

melting podiumJumping forward another ten miles, our group bridged up to another group that, to my surprise, included another Fatty. Now, we had two to the line. With my lack of strategy, I began to pay the price and could not hang and fell from the group as the other Fatty sat smartly in the back of the group. With about 3 miles to go, a group of 10 or so bridged to me…I was trying the stupid time trial thing on a fatty again. Clearly, I am a slow learner. We came to the line and, of course, I got beat in the sprint! Dude who stole second from me: pick on someone your own size!

In summary, it was really super fun. As a matter of fact, it was so much fun that I am going to race Barry Roubaix coming up the end of this month. Even if you don’t ride, you should come up for the post race party as I hear it’s more fun than the race. As an added bonus, you can see me and compete for the funniest “Gottwald is a small guy” joke of the day. Of course, the only thing you may see of me is my back side as I pull away. Spring is around the corner and the team at Athletic Mentors and Coach Olson are working me over in prep for the road season.

Oh, and Tim Krone (a good friend) who commented on what I eat, you should know that despite my size, I had a huge triple meat sandwich, two beers, and a dozen cookies at the post race party. Thanks Bell’s for the Two Hearted!

Go TEAM OAM NOW!!! See you at Roubaix!


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