Mad Dog 200by Bill Pustow
The Mad Dog 200 festivities began Friday night, May 24th, with a Thai buffet at race headquarters. This is something we have not seen at double centuries in the Midwest but is a traditional part of ultra running races. It gives the racers a chance to carbo-load while, at the same time, meet new people as well as renew old acquaintances — and since Mrs. Mad Dog is the best Thai cook in the Midwest, and possibly the South, we decided to put a different spin on it. She outdid herself by preparing chicken bamboo in yellow curry, chicken sweet potato and squash in red curry, stir fried vegetables and shrimp, a pork and rice noodle salad, as well as a dessert of sweet rice and fruits. But I digress. There was also a double century the next day.
The chimes playing “My Old Kentucky Home” at the Stephen Foster Mansion at the turnaround in Bardstown was certainly apropos. It contains the line “The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home.” The weather forecasts at the beginning of the week were not positive. They called for cold temps and rain. As the week went along the forecasts improved so that by Friday they were predicting temps in the 80s and only a possibility of thunderstorms. Because of the miserable weather conditions we’ve experienced on double centuries as well as brevets here in the Midwest, a number of riders were waiting until the last minute to decide on whether to attend. As Jim Amelung stated, “I’m coming. At least if there are tornadoes, they’ll be warm tornadoes.” The race began with temps in the mid 60s. By 1 pm it was 84 degrees with the humidity around 75% and hardly a cloud in the sky. A little warm? Actually, a perfect spring day in Kentucky.
The first 46 miles consisted of a contest between Steve Marshall, fresh off of his first place tie at Calvin’s Challenge, David Power, BMB record holder, and Jim Amelung, two time winner of BAM. At this point, the younger guys finally dropped Jim and came into the turnaround point in 4:34:11 — for an average speed of over 21 mph. Considering the relentless hills, as well as consistent headwinds, this was an excellent time. On the return, the combination of the heat, humidity and hills, had their effect and, at 133 miles, David bonked — leaving Steve to ride the remaining 69 miles by himself. With the storm front slowly coming in, the winds shifted and the return trip did not provide the tail winds that everyone expected. Steve finished the 202.4 mile course in an excellent time of 11:10. He was followed in by Jeff and Lynn Pierce — both Big Dog Triple Crown finishers the previous year. Next was 64-year-old Jim Cartwright, who while having a number of punctures, never lost his positive attitude. Merry vander Linden, riding with her husband Claudio, again finished and has the distinction of being the only two-time finisher of the Mad Dog 200.
Mechanicals caused a number of riders to DNF. Jim Amelung managed to break off his crank arm at 98 miles and Kevin Kelenka, RAAM finisher, continued his bad luck with tubular punctures, started at the Davis 12-Hour and at Calvin’s, and had three tubulars go flat before abandoning.
The riders finished at Long Run Park, near Louisville, to pizza and soft drinks. The consensus seemed to be that the course was tough but very scenic — so we feel we’ve accomplished our mission. It consists of over 12,000 feet of climbing and takes the riders through the rural landscape of Kentucky’s outer Bluegrass Region. They’re able to ride on cycling-friendly rolling to hilly roads past horse and tobacco farms, bourbon distilleries, through the Lincoln Homestead State Park, to the historic town of Bardstown, where the chimes rang out the lyrics, “The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home, ‘tis summer, the people are gay. The corn top’s high and the meadow’s in bloom, while the birds make music all day.”
This was our first year hosting a JMC event and we’re looking forward to a bigger and even better event next year.
Y’all come on down!
Steve Marshall 18.09
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web posted: 12 July 2002
last updated: 14 July 2002