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>How was it?

Well, the Houston part was pretty good. The getting-to-Houston part absolutely sucked in the worst possible way.

Let me elaborate. Cara was supposed to be at my house Thursday after work, so we could depart for Salt Lake and spend the night at a hotel. Ok. The only available room in the Salt Lake area was 17 miles from the airport. Sucked. Cara had an interview at three. In Boise. So she was not even on her way over until 6. Sucked. Fine, Eddy was in the box - I just took a nap. She calls from American Falls. Driving through a blizzard. Sucked. I twiddle my thumbs until she arrived. We left at eleven. PM. Stacked two bike boxes in my car. Zipped down through Pocatello - where's the blizzard?

Malad Pass - here's the blizzard. Very low visibility, snowing heavily. Did I mention that it is about time for new tires on my car? Sucked. Just outside of Brigham City, 60 miles from the airport (though 77 from our intended hotel) the heretofore wet-slush snow on the freeway that the snowplows were not able to keep plowed got just a tad more slippery.

How slippery, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I was minding my own business following a semi at like 35-40 mph. One pile of slush shoves me sideways, I politely request to continue on close to my previous course, and next several things I know, in super slo-mo: 1) back of car decides it would rather be in front so it can see what's going on up there; also decides to take a trip over towards the left lane - luckily nobody else there. 2) Nothing fun to do in the left lane, let's continue on into the median. Sideways. Down into the median, say a good 10-15 feet to the bottom. 3) Barrel roll; whump, whump, whump, whump. I'm just sitting here watching the world go 'round and 'round. 4) Kind of hard to see out of the windshield with all those cracks, isn't it? Give Cara a fierce happy-to-be-alive hug. 5) Remove seatbelt, get out of car. Now which way did I come from?

Back in semi-normal time now. Guy standing over (up) on side of road says, hey, you all right? Sure, I am. Cara has a bruise on the inside of her elbow and a case of the shakes. This guy, who works in the local airbag plant, proceeds to take us 10 miles back up the road to Tremonton. The gas station attendant calls the sheriff and I call my parents. Still pretty happy to be alive at 2:30am. Dad starts to drive down in case my car is entirely toast.

One deputy takes us to another, who takes us back to the scene. Where a state trooper is waiting. Do some paperwork. By the way, since I had an accident I must have been traveling too fast for conditions. An $80, 4-point citation. Gee, thanks. The other deputy tries to pick up on Cara as I fill out forms in the trooper's Mustang.

Wrecker arrives, that guy hooks a cable to the bumper and winches the car out of the median. Lucky thing it landed on the wheels. He hooks it up to the wrecker. Looks like a samurai gave it an overhand whack with a baseball bat, right in the middle of the roof/windshield joint. Right front fender is pushed in a bit behind the wheel. Left front fender is indented at the front edge along with a small portion of hood. Back window has large hole from bouncing bike box. Driver's mirror is dangling from its control cable. It's still snowing heavily. We get in the wrecker, he proceeds to drive slowly north a couple miles until we find an exit and turn around; then we head south toward his base of Brigham City.

We get to his service station. He starts talking about hotels and rental cars. I ask him how far it is to the airport - 57 miles. It's almost 5am now - our flight leaves at 7:10. I ask if he thinks the car is driveable at all. He says I can drive it around the block and see for myself. I do. Don't see any leaking fluids. Doesn't pull or make really bad noises, just kind of difficult to see through the windshield. The lights all work. Doors open and close.

Cara is not too thrilled, but we drive off and head for the airport. Eventually it quits snowing and we make it to the airport about 6:30. Dump the bags and park the car in the long-term lot. More of the back window falls out each time the hatch is opened or closed, and little pieces of glass keep falling from the inside of the windshield. Luckily I brought along my leather work gloves.

We get on the plane, after paying $90 more for having oversized baggage. We are very tired, but I am unable to sleep much because the seats are not very comfortable. So I amuse myself with the SkyLink computer/phone/ fax/cookie-orderer in the seatback.

We eventually get to Houston Intergalactic, and are picked up by both my sisters. One bike box in each car, and go to Elise's apartment on Almeda. I had planned on maybe a ride, but settle for laying around and unpacking the bikes before going out to dinner. At a sushi/sashimi bar - I am really carboloading for the big race day, NOT. I do have some chicken and rice along with a few bites of sashimi. Which is barely-cooked fish and rice wrapped in seaweed.

> Who won?

Hanszen, Sid, Brown. Alum, women, men. Jones got 2nd in both alumni and men's races. I once more was fortunate enough to ride twice, as was Stephen. Who had just put his bike back together after being hit by a car last summer. Women's race was another string-out fest. Men's race had a more exciting finish than I have ever seen: Brown and Jones were track-standing when Garrick, riding for the GSA, caught them and initiated a sprint for the last lap. Brown won, Jones lost and Garrick got third for the GSA - probably their best finish ever.

>Who lost?

Everybody else.

> Any good wrecks?

Two, both from Will Rice I think, in the men's race. Both in turn two where there is a nasty bump. I was standing at the start of the back stretch with Clinton and Stephen and several riders went around behind us.

> How's Eddy?

I didn't tighten the rear QR enough (must remove skewers for shipping) and the wheel popped out when I stood up to crank on a practice throw, but I recovered and tightened it with no harm done. Then, like a total moron, I chipped the paint on the top tube while putting him back in the box. Brushed it with the pedal wrench - must get some padding for that, or put my pipe insulation on the bike before I start throwing wrenches around. Both bikes were totally fine about being rolled around in the car, though. No damage from that.

>How's Cara?

She has another couple of interviews today. Really hated the wreck. Had a good time at Beer-Bike. Bitched at me for taking a lane on Almeda when we did an Almeda Sunday. Driving back from Salt Lake, she said that she can't take the long-distance relationship thing with all the other things going on in her life, it's not fair to either of us. Got a maybe-we-just-need-some-time and a I'm-still-your-friend, and bunches of tears. Really really sucked some more.

> Did you see anyone interesting/fun/boring/happy?

Stephen: has a nice scar on his leg from the car last summer. Been running, though. And drinking, if I know Stephen. Kathy Jump: didn't talk to her at all. Clinton: going to work at Sandia Nat'l Lab - back on the net soon. Rachel Decker: a little confused about the alumni thing, but settled down. Garrick: really nice tan, damn him. Gary Raven, drinking. And smoking - what's up with that? Alex Anselm: Hanszen's last alum rider, couldn't catch him, damn him. Various other Jonespeople. Not so many as last year, though I wasn't doing the same amount of hanging out as last year either.

>Tell me tell me tell me!

Does this count?

>How was your time?

Riding second (after Stephen's first) was about a 1:24. Did I mention the hellish headwind on the backstretch? Worst our pit boss Dr. Stoll had ever seen. Some Jonesperson told the announcer that I would be going for the 1:17 record, which he then announced (as announcers are wont to do) while I was waiting in the pits.

Cara rode eighth, successfully masquerading as a Jones alum. She did call a little too much attention to herself though. "Who's that chick passing everybody?" "That's Henry's girlfriend." Oh well, nobody bitched in an official fashion.

Riding tenth was about a not-even-a-clue. Went out after Alex a ways, like 100 yards or so, and just couldn't catch him. Finished eight seconds down, not sure if I made any time or not. And then some judge said I was riding inside the line, so we got a penalty. Still got second. Don't think I was over the line, but I was pretty brain-dead at that point.

> Did you use Mat-With-One-T as a pace-man again? No such luck?

I think he is out of the country again, darn it all to heck.

> (Sucks to be you...) Did I mention that it is sucking to be me?

>I'm waiting to hear,


That about covers it.