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The last frucking reprot, about races this year anyway.

My second annual Banzai.

Once more I stayed at the near-palatial house of Jim's sister, where Jim himself is now living after moving to Boise. One of my car's exhaust tips picked last week to rust away from the muffler, but I wired it back almost in place and the drive over was only slightly noisier than usual.

Saturday morning, however, on the way over to Bob's house to carpool up to Idaho City with him, the wire holding up the loose exhaust let go and my car was very noisy from that point on. Lucky thing I was already going to carpool. So we threw all the bikes on top of Bob's Pathfinder and after pausing to admire the Sentra SE-R with shiny new exhaust and K&N filter we were off to the races.

Upon arrival in Idaho City, we immediately noticed that it was somewhere under 40 degrees. Perhaps a little warmer than last year? But a high cloud layer promised no great warmup from the sun. Nonetheless, by the time I finally started a little after noon it was tolerable enough for just arm- and leg-warmers, no gloves or jackets.

We started with the old and junior Beginners; Bob was also racing in the Clydesdale class, and I was pretty sure he would kick my butt on the technical part of the course. Not much suspense there. So what could I do but make him hurt on the first road-y part? That I did. Then he caught and rode away from me on the second part. It didn't help that I went straight instead of turning after a highway crossing, then crashed when I got back on course after that. Which moved me down to third out of nine Clydesdales, five seconds behind third in about 1:20'. Bob came in at 1:08', winning handily. But then he was bitching about how tired he was. Whereas I didn't feel that bad except for my crash injuries.

Which were minor scrapes along the left side, a quarter-size hole on the knee of my brand-stinking-new-being-worn-for-only-the-second-time leg-warmers, and a slightly sprained right knee. My front tire washed out in a gravel bed and I did some kind of combination roll/slide. Luckily the bike ended up on top of me, preventing damage to itself. I was pretty pissed by this point, but the remainder of the course was so technical that I could not put my rage to any productive use and had to concentrate on not biffing again. Sucked to be me.

After I finished I noticed my rear wheel seemed a little tweaked so I took it over to the Trek Wrench Force and let them fix it while I sucked down a bottle of All-Sport. Then we pretty much took off, since only ribbons would be given at the award ceremony - prizes for cumulative stage points.

I made sure not to hand a water bottle to any nearby biker babes. I remember how much trouble I caused myself the last time I was nice.

Anyone remember that points stage race at SWT? That sucked, too.

Because of the hillclimb portion, this year no longer an option (and no circuit race either) which was given an equal weight, and in which I truly sucked, I was pretty much guaranteed not to win the overall even if I took the downhill.

But the hillclimb was Sunday, on an old rope-tow slope at Bogus Basin. We dropped my car at the finish in town and took Jim's car up to Bogus. Bob had better things to do than the downhill, like go for a ride with his wife. Recall from last year that the road to Bogus is reputedly one of the curviest in the world and Jim drives his old Subaru wagon as if he used to make the commute every day. Which he did, when he worked at Bogus for several years. It would have been more enjoyable had I not noticed that the fork mount holding my bike was quite a bit more wobbly than the one holding Jim's bike, and not able to be further tightend. But no incidents ensued, and we got to Bogus just in time for me to check in and ask Ron when the Clydesdales were going to attempt the hillclimb. He said, "Oh, right now is fine." So I had to run back down the hill to my bike and do it without any warmup at all. One try only, too. Sucked to be me, and I easily got last place, never making it out of the soft dirt generated by all the previous contestants.

Then I had time to kill before riding the chair to the downhill start, so I hung around the Trek van and took a test ride on a Y-bike. They are kind of nice; the guys said just-a-frame will run $1100, and will have a handlebar-mounted rear lockout mechanism. Hmmm... The weirdness of the bottle cage mounts kind of sucks, though - leaving Camelbaks, of course. But I hate Camelbaks, or I'm pretty sure I would hate one if I ever try one.

Eventually got on the chair to go to the start, wearing a jacket this year. It wasn't as cold as last year. No snow, which was a plus. Our start was delayed ten minutes because of the slowness of the chairlift, and I did start shivering after I took off my jacket.

But then we started, with old Beginners this time. One guy I knew to be a Clydesdale took off right from the start, so I chased after him and caught him after a bit. Then dropped him, and never saw any Clydesdales again. I felt a lot better than last year; it was warmer and the course was in slightly better shape. And I have SPuDs this year, so I didn't have to worry about my feet flying out of toeclips on the really bumpy parts. There were a couple places where I was out of the saddle, trying to be the human shock absorber, but it was still so bumpy that my eyeballs were shaking hard enough to make it difficult to focus.

And I didn't crash in the downhill this year, meaning I was not restricted to the middle chainring for the last half of the race. Woo hoo! I hammered all the way to the end, finishing in just over 53 minutes. A new record of under 44 minutes was set this year, down from a bit over 44'. I was over seven minutes faster than the next Clydesdale. Ten minutes is a large gap, but it's closer to an overall winner's time than I've been all year.

Jim and I grabbed a couple rounds of pizza and then, since the line was beginning to lengthen, took off in my very noisy car to retrieve his car from the top of Bogus. It was a very noisy, very fun, and maybe a little dangerous ride up. Then Jim said he was going to coast on the way down, but I was following him and he was _not_ coasting. On one corner I did request more traction than was available, and it would have really sucked if there had been a car in the other lane as I was sliding into it. But there wasn't, and we continued driving like maniacs back to the house for a quick shower and a more leisurely drive to the post-finish party once more.

I arrived just in time to accept my points jersey, which proudly proclaims "Nike/Fuji Wild Rockies Series Champion" under a logo splashed all across the back. Then more pizza, and my second-place prizes for the Banzai: All-Sport cap, under-seat bag, gloves, Croakies. Woo hoo.

More pizza, but no beer, because then I had to drive my noisy little car home all by myself. Got home at 11:30 and crashed into bed.

Thus ends my first full season of combined road and mountain racing, 25 or so races in all, over $500 in entry fees, slightly less than that in prize merchandise, one points championship. Oh, and about 5000 miles on my car, which now is in need of a new exhaust...I'm thinking stainless.

later, hah