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Coming off my relative success at the Sea Otter and Beer-Bike, you would think I would do well at the next race. Except I sat around Mom's in Plano for the week after Beer-Bike, because it was too rainy to ride. Then I had to drive back, which took three days because I went to A-Basin with Tricky on the way. So I missed out on some training, not that the weather at home was all that great. Fine, my excuse is now firmly established.

Oh, and then I was feeling sick for some silly reason. Even better.

Out at the Hemingway Off-road Vehicle Park, there was a small but respectable showing for the first of the Wild Rockies "Unplugged" series, the Barking Spider Mountain Bike Bash. Not quite as windy as last year, though it did pick up nicely right before the start. And a little nippy, couldn't decide on arm and leg warmers or not. I stood around a fire trying to keep warm until the last minute, then threw my bike together and rode around a little. Not feeling that great. Whoopee.

Rich was there, and Aaron was back from his broken leg too. Turns out there was another sport clydesdale, but I didn't see him at the start line. Off we went with the vet sports again. I had a poor stage, but picked up a few positions on the first flat part. Passed Rich and Aaron as the grade started to slightly increase. Then it steepened more and I successfully passed through the first sand trap, but I was puffing a bit. At the base of the next climb, I tried to shift into the little ring, and my chain wedged itself between the crank and chainstay. Wonderful, so I got off and pushed. Before I got to the top and got the bike sorted again, Rich and Aaron went by. Oh well, got back on and I was keeping them in sight but not gaining as the gradual climb turned into some big whoops (motorcycle park) and a downhill back through the starting area. First time on my mountain bike since the Sea Otter, and they both love downhill. Hmm, where did they go?

On the long false flat coming out of the start area, I spotted Rich ahead and was gaining on him a little, but the grade and wind were a nasty combination and I was puffing pretty bad but seemingly not able to make full use of my lungs. That's a wonderful feeling. Still, I kept him in sight until the start of the bobsled run, where poof, he was gone. I was intentionally cautious and doing ok (well, not crashing) until the last one of the banked turns. There was no place to wuss out on that one, but I tried anyway and got a small scratch on my back and a pound of dirt down my shorts for my trouble. After that I resolved to go even slower. The chain was acting up more on climbs, and when I finally got to the death drop I decided to walk it. As I was walking down, some kid went flying by and came unglued on the whoops at the bottom. He required medical assistance, an ambulance but not a helicopter ride. After that it was more sandy washes and whoops back to the start/finish, and I was pushing not at all. I considered myself happy in third (didn't know about that other guy) and just wanted to finish.

Because I was only halfway done, there was one lap yet remaining. And the rate I was going, the pro/experts were going to be lapping me soon since they had three laps. Actually, despite continuing problems with the chain, the first one didn't go by until I was the bobsled run. It was Stacy Stuart, and he was nice and calm about it. I even didn't crash that time. Paul Fleming went by in second a while later, Craig Kidd and Jeff Conner passed me on the climb up to the death drop, and I walked the death drop again and made it to the finish without anyone else passing. I felt pretty terrible physically, then I looked at the tagboard and saw I wasn't even third. Shut out of the podium for the first time in, well, years at a mountain bike race. But what can you do, lemons, lemonade and all that. Get better, get over it.

I hung out with Rich for a while, he had got tangled with somebody going into the first sand pit, and as a result his (Girvin) fork got tweaked so that it let his front tire hit the downtube. And as when a similar thing happened when this bike was new last year and he didn't have a strong enough spring on it, that means instant endo. He counted about four or five this time, but still came in second. Back on the stand, not only were the fork legs not pointing where they were supposed to, but there was a dent in the (alumin[i]um) downtube. But his Spinergy wheels were still true, so it wasn't a total loss.

After that I helped Ron tear down, easier now that he is "unplugged" - everything has to fit in a van and 8' trailer, instead of the dually and in/on top of the 30' trailer last year. Then it was Sunday, and that means 39c cheeseburgers (anybody remember those?) at McD's, so we each got four or so and went to visit Ronda at her Mom's house. She said she had a hot job lead for me (after my layoff sob story came out again) if I could stick around town for a few days. I was housesitting for the Yosts while they were at the Sizzler in San Jose, so I said sure, why not.

Well, there was no apparent action that week (other than Luke's encounter with a wild boar amid the mud in San Jose) so I took off for home and a few training rides. But watch for more clues in upcoming tales.

Official results at the Wild Rockies website