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The Battle in the Blues, near Ukiah, Oregon. A mere 500 miles from home. What's there? Mountain bike race points, after I missed the double-mtb-race weekend to do the High Uintas Classic. Good thing Super Dave was driving.

He elected to rent a lovely Sable wagon, into which we barely fit our bikes, camping gear, and general junk. But fit it we did, and off we went, escaping form work a little early on a Friday afternoon. Early enough to drop by the Boise REI, anyway, and then on to the vicinity of Ukiah. The race was actually based at a hot springs nearby. We arrived at about ten (Pacific) and found the bunkhouse where the Wild Rockies race staff was hanging out. Bunkbeds are better than sleeping on dirt, I always say. After watching the two small canine animals race around the walls and jawing with Ron and Ronda a bit, we all hit the hay.

In the morning there was time for a pre-ride of the downhill course before the start. It was bumpy and rocky as new trail is wont to be, but not especially technical, i.e. no big drop-offs like Oasis. And there appeared to be no other Clydesdales signed up for the downhill, so all I had to do was finish.

Ok, bumpity bumpity through the treeless upper portion and then across the bumpy meadow to the bumpy shaded part. And finish, a short course - only about a mile.

Then hang out until the cross-country. Except I was getting comped, so I had to do something useful. I got to sit outside the bunkhouse with the Wild Rockies mechandise, hats and leftover t-shirts. I believe we sold one t-shirt and two hats.

But then it was time to start the cc. A rather small field, once more the Clydesdales started with the 35-45 beginner men. After bombing down through the springs parking lot, we hit the first climb. And it was a long one that got steeper towards its end, about halfway through the race. It hurt a bit, but I dropped everyone from my start. A couple of skinny juniors did come by after a while, though. Then there was a fun (bumpy) fast gravel road where I was pushing my 11. Ok, so the compact front "big" ring is like a 42. After that was some rolling singletrack, a climb to the top of the downhill course, and down that again. Whee.

The awards presentation was briefly harassed by a shower, a break from the darn sunny and hot weather. I got an Expensive Lightweight Shit t-shirt, another Zipp hat, and a large behind-the-seat bag. For this I passed up the 40k in Ogden? Oh well. The points might come in handy.

I spent an hour helping tear down, then we zipped back to Boise.

For on Sunday was the final stage of the Hewlett-Packard International Women's Challenge. And Dave knew a guy to talk to for volunteering. Please, could I be near professional biker babes? We house-sat for Ron that night, then in the morning were raring to go.

Somewhat disappointed to learn that the stage was not expected to finish until 1pm, we nonetheless went to the finish area at Lucky 13 where the Bogus-to-Boise Banzai used to finish as well. Dave had a coffee, I had a cinnamon roll. We read the paper. Spotted some official vehicles drive by. Then a moving truck showed up and started dumping banners.So we ambled over and made ourselves available. Surprise surprise, some of the same people who were doing cycling-course-marshal-type things in Atlanta were here as well. They said that they heard the Challenge would be two weeks next year, heading over towards Jackson - and that means close by here at home, too. Woo hoo!

So we assisted in the finish area preparation, lining up the banners in a most artistic fashion. When that was all done there was a call for a volunteer marshal's meeting. That sounded like fun, so we went over and got t-shirts, whistles, and orange flags. We were assigned the intersection of Hill Road (which the race would be traveling along) and the road to/from Bogus Basin, Harrison Blvd.

Then we traveled to our assigned location, got out the lawn chairs, and sat in the shade on the corner. The head marshal came by and gave us a radio, and a ham'er showed up as well. It seemed that the race caravan took a wrong turn just before entering Boise, and this delayed it a bit. But then we heard the position reports getting closer, and some Boise cops showed up to shut down the intersection. And then I got to stand out in front of a car (including impatient driver) in my safety vest and hold up my hand in the traditional signal of course marshals everywhere, which was of course ignored by the next marshal down. The women went by, broken into several packs. Then the broom wagon, and we headed back to Lucky 13.

More shades of Atlanta - once again Dave out-schmoozed me and was holding some gal's bike inside the cordoned-off area while I was asking Bad Bob from Poky how his wife did - she had one bad day which cost her a lot of time, but her local "bike-shop-team" got eighth place, in the money ($1750) ahead of many pro teams. Further practicing his schmoozing, Dave found a marker and got Zulfia Zabirovna, the Lithuanian wonder twins, and Dede Demet to sign his t-shirt. But now he can't wash it.

That was pretty much the high point of our day, we found some place to eat and then drove home.