This is the story of the weekend of August 24-25, 1996. There was a national mountain bike race in Deer Valley/Park City, and I thought I would watch that rather than compete. On Sunday there was a road race just a little south of Salt Lake, so I could drop in there for some training and head back to Deer Valley.
After the time trial the previous weekend I was finally beginning to feel re-acclimated to the altitude. This is a good thing. I managed to talk Allan Butler into going with me. Actually, he said "Oooh, ooh, I want to got to that road race, and I guess we could watch the mountain bike race."
Off we go Saturday morning. According to the schedule in my handy dandy _NORBA News_, we should arrive in time for the downhill. It appears that we do arrive in time for the second of two runs for the pros. One pro is Kelly Lee, whose name we hear as we are walking to the lodge past all the swag wagons in the parking lot. Kelly turns out to be Brookeís boyfriend, who she has moved to Driggs to be closer to. No more Tuesday nighters with Brooke. Boo hoo. We run into her at the top of the stairs, you see. She is going to get some water for Kelly. What a nice thing to do. Then we see Ron and Ronda. Havenít seen them since White Knob. Ok, I lied, we were standing there talking to Ron and Ronda when Brooke walked by and Allan stopped her. We got some visiting out of the way. Now to observe some carnage.
We began making our way up the downhill course, and was it nasty. Yes, it was. We got to one spot only to see a pro woman downhiller flop over sideways in a bunch of loose rocks. But she was on the bike and moving again. Very dusty, roots, narrow ruts, loose rocks, and damn hot too. Up some more. By the time the last pro women passed us we were at a high-speed banked turn, standing out of the way of the dust plumes. Zip. Missy Giove. Whoosh. Leigh Donovan. You get the picture. Then we walked further up to the no-spectators-past-this-point sign. This was supposedly about halfway up the course. And then of course we had to walk back down again, as the Elite men were making their runs. Walk for a minute, duck to the side. Repeat.
Down at the base area, we watched some trials riding. Wow. Thatís amazing. I got some autographs on my Atlanta course tape from Susan and Don, but missed Tinker (having started with Juli and Lance buddy). We sat and watched a few sport and expert riders take headers on the last steep pitch before the finish. I showed Ronda my Olympic pictures.
Over to the dual slalom, that made-for-short-attention-spans event. What was I talking about? Itís timed to the thousandth of a second, and this turned out to be useful as Leigh beat Missy by exactly 1/1000th of a second over two runs. Some guy won the menís final too. Pretty amazing riding going on here too, says mr. no-technical-riding-skills.
Heading to Salt Lake, we snorted some pasta before crashing at the house of one of Allanís friends there - in fact, heís going to be moving into that house when his classes start in a bit.
In the morning, we lollygagged down to Draper, and were still almost the first ones there (we had to get up early enough to eat breakfast, you see). It turns out the Draper course shares one corner with the Hammer-at-the-Slammer race I did earlier in the year. But itís a much nicer course. A little over ten miles, thereís a flat (into the wind) section, a slight climb, downhill to flat again, downhill through a one-lane underpass, flat, little climb, flat, little climb, flat, turn, slight climb, flat, two turns close to the start/finish and start over. We drove the course, since we were so early.
It looked like a small-field day. Allan went off with maybe 14 others in the 1/2/3s, for a nice 65 mile ride. The 3s left on a 54-mile jaunt, about 15 of them too. Then I took off with around 14 others in the 4/5s, a 42-miler. Nobody wanted to push into the wind, and I mean the pace was like 15 mph. It wasnít that windy. So, discarding my no-work strategy, I went right up to the front and pushed the pace. To 20, then 22. Oh, they were *so* dropping off my wheel. Not. But I was bored, anyway. Things got a little more interesting when we would catch the lead motorcycle before the underpass, and have to shout at him to go go go. Eventually about six people dropped off, leaving nine. Around we went, and the climbs were too short for me to be dropped. Whee! This was going to be fun. About three miles out, the big mountain biker doing his first road race starts his sprint. A little too early. We are all on him like glue. Then up the last climb, and thereís a train approaching the railroad crossing. The motor might make it, but us bikers are screwed. So we wait for the train to pass, grumbling all the while. Itís now a mile to the finish, and we are all nice and rested. At the next-to-last turn, the newbie takes another flyer. I and three others are on him, and around him. I follow one guy, he jumps, he fades. Into the last turn, 100 meters. Thereís a guy right across from me, one behind is no factor, and I half-wheel him to the finish.
Woo hoo! Except that when the results are posted, the rider closer to the officials is given the win. But we both agree that I won, so Gary switches 1 and 2 on the sheet in between showing off his Miguel Indurain autographs. Allan comes in sixth, for which he get a coffee cup. I get not only a coffee cup, but $45 cash and $20 in gift certificates good only at Canyon Cycles in Draper.
We zip back to Deer Valley in time for the menís pro cross country. This was pretty impressive to watch, too. Those guys can climb. Again we wander around the course, cheering for Johnny T, Nedly, Tinker, Rishi, and our riding buddy from Pocatello, Zach Shriver (riding for Rock Shox Devo). Have I mentioned yet all the very attractive women at this race? Unfortunately, it seemed they were all attached at the hip to surly boyfriends. Oh well.
Travis Brown eventually wins, holding off Johnny T, followed by Rishi, some guy, and Ned. Tinker is around 10th. Time to go, weíre not going to stick around and watch all those losers who are a lap down finish. We hit the lovely hilltop Park City Taco Bell, and boom, we are out of there.