Monday, October 26, 2009
Silver...er, Mud Sharks!!
It happened. The day Joel has been waiting for we got to enjoy, but without Joel who was on a mission to nab himself a cute pooch. Good excuse dude. We know you didn't want to get your bike muddy with horse poo-poo and pee-pee. Your new friend would have peed all the mud off, you know?
We left with a full load of meat heads ready to slide down into some eagerly awaiting pools of cold wet earth. Some of us met out at Sweet Pea early to fuel up before we hit the road. I arrived after breakfast as I wasn't feeling hot and was debating even leaving the house, but here I sit, telling you about the trip. I got there as breakfast was finishing up and loaded up along with Hazel, Glenn, Charlie, John, Tad, Danger, and the Motordome pilot, Griz. We set off with a fridge full of Hamm's and listed down Stark toward another traffic jam caused the second marathon of the first four Cross Crusades. Don't they have an X-Box Live game for all these runners to hook up to treadmills in the safety of their own homes, without crippling downtown traffic. How about 1 or two streets that don't circumnavigate the ENTIRE downtown. Idiot runners.
Speaking of idiots, our nearly tragic loss of a $40K coffee mug was saved by a Christmas miracle. Seems Charlie left Megan's mug, which is somehow valued more than my entire net worth, sitting on the rear bumper when we left town. Thankfully, 1974 technology left us with a perfectly square bumper that kept that baby put the entire trip. I can't keep a pair of socks together for more than a week. This mug makes an unlikely trip across town sitting on a bumper. Nothing makes sense to me anymore.
After searching for a back of the lot parking spot and setting up camp, it seemed like our racing was ready to start. Normally, arriving at 8:30 allows for plenty of time to dick around before we casually head to the starting line at 1pm. When you show up at 11am instead, you all of a sudden feel rushed. So, as we all geared up to do few warmup rides, Craig shows up from Seattle ready to roll. Right about then I decide to register. I would be racing and trying to keep a good series standing. I figured I'd either feel better afterwards, or much worse.
About 12:50 we finally make our way over to the staging area and go through call ups, then numbers. Griz gets last number, which equals a six pack. Craig gets both a call up and a six pack, as do a few others up front. After a few minutes the B's head out. I like it when they go first. Catching the B field on the last few laps helps with the cat and mouse passing of the singlespeed field, at least most of the time. As we sit for 3 minutes waiting for our staggered start, I start wondering if this was a bad idea. I feel a little lightheaded, and I'm not sure what kind of legs I have as I have only been on one 40 minute ride outside of work in the past two weeks. Last week I was feeling mildly sick for all of two days before racing and ended up 10th. I had my fingers crossed today that being sick is my new training routine.
We left in the usual cluster of a field, shoulder to shoulder, headed out over a muddy and bumpy stretch of field. I always wonder when that's gonna go bad, but it doesn't happen today. We get out past a few fast stretches and I feel okay. Like I could pedal harder, but am bent on riding smart and staying up. I'm not trying to prove anything today. If I get a top 30 finish, I'd be happy with that. As muddy turn, bog, straightaway, and barrier go by, lap by lap, it becomes apparent that I feel pretty good. I somehow have not slumped into a sick and dying ball of cold, wet misery. I find Luke Demoe who got 3rd last week and stick on him, pacing myself and letting him dictate speed while I focus on lines and who's behind us.
All is well on the final lap. I trade places a few times with at least one other singlespeeder before using some lagging B's to shield a clean pass and getaway through the corners. After getting around a couple more riders who went down on the pavement transition, I am trailing Luke on through the last barn, ready for the last right, left right toward the finish. I can sense a top finish, though it seems Luke's not as fast as last week running fixed again. But I know he's a strong rider, so I feel good. As we exit the barn, I lose my racelong cool head of riding carefully, and pedal a little too hard a bit too early and my rear wheel spins out. I hit the deck, taking a couple followers with me. As I get up and remount, at least two more bike fly by, and they are not B's, but singlespeeders. As I slowly remount in the mud, trying to get back into my pedals, and spinning tires, another SS goes by on my left, only this one returns the favor and falls, taking me out. I'm on the ground looking at the finish and I see about five more bikes leaving the barn out of the corner of my eye and then look back to my left. The bike that took me down is a singlespeed. I feel like everything is simultaneously moving in hyper-speed and slow motion. I clammer to my feet dragging my bike out from underneath the fallen rider and start running. It's like a bad dream, the one where you can't yell for help, or uh, like you're running though mud. As the soft buzz of bikes comes around the last corner I finally get traction and lunge toward the finish line, pushing my bike forward across the line as both mounted riders and the singlespeeder who was momentarily in the dirt next to me come up on my left.
It was nuts to finish like that. So close to a single digit finish, only to slip and fall twice in the closing stretch. It was a great way to end the race. This was the hardest race to get to for me, and I pushed my better senses aside to possibly wreak havoc on my system, but in the end I was holding a 40 and smiling, covered in mud.
I know that I'm speaking for everyone when I say I had a great time out there. The nastier it gets, the more you feel like a kid throwing a football around in mud. Next week is Halloween in Astoria, we'll be camping the entire weekend. If it's anything like this, it will be a memorable weekend.