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No, not the time for entering tourney pools. Ok, do that if you want. Subject: It's that time again

No, not Beer-Bike. Though I am going, it's March 30.

Give up? Racing season is here. Woo hoo, weekly reports. Please unsubscribe from the alt.henry.shut.the.hell.up mailing list if you don't want these.

This year's season started off with a bang-Sss-Sss-Sss. Who would have thought that a road race named Emmet-Roubaix would have a mile of gravel road in it? On which I flatted 20 yards from the return to pavement.

But let us begin at the beginning, which was very early Sunday morning. I rode over with Derek, our new bike club/team fearless leader, a cat 3 even, in his Outback. Starting out at 5:15, we arrived at the race site on the far side of Boise only 90 minutes before registration started. Killer parking spot, though.

By start time, 3 hours later, the field had swelled to 104, 40 1-2-3s and 64 4-5-Ws. Close to the largest (road) start I've had. The weather, forecast to be sunny and 60's, instead was cloudy, gusty, upper 40's. Hey, that's why I brought all those clothes, right? We roll off 3 minutes after the 1-2-3s, and the George's team immediately sets up a wall after about 10 guys get away. 50 people are bitching about this. I'm hanging out on the shoulder when someone just ahead of me over on the centerline gets nervous and decides to have a crash. This splits up the blocking, and we are racing again. I blast up a hill and am chasing up to the lead group - probably about to blow up, but what the hell. Then the dirt starts, mostly smooth but I must have hit a few too many sharp rocks because the aforementioned flat happens just as I am about to get to pavement again. It sucks to be me. I pull over, put up my right arm (flat on rear), and watch the entire field roll by. I get bored, take out my tube and lever, and am almost ready to start with the mini-pump when the support van meanders by to hand me a wheel.

Now I'm pissed that this all took so long, so I let the adrenalin have its way and hammer for about 10 miles. I start catching stragglers, then the wind picks up and I am strangely a little tired. There are times when I have to stand up to maintain 15 mph downhill into the gusting wind - and I am still passing people. Including the chick on a nice Motorola Merckx, and we trade one more "hey, nice bike." I probably should have just stayed and hit on her, but I was thinking I might catch a few more people, and besides, why stop hurting now. Maybe I'll break into the top 40.

At the top of the 1.5 mile final climb, my odo indicates 30 miles, slightly more than the advertised 25. I pedal slowly back another couple miles to the start and eat about six bagels, bitching and moaning. Derek says he got shelled in the first few miles by the bunch of 2s from George's (a large Boise bike shop chain). At the very brief award ceremony (3x5 places) the sun finally comes out.

We mosey back through Boise, and I pick up some jeans at the Levis' outlet and an unfamiliar, unfriendly microorganism from a Chinese restaurant. I'll just say there has been some intestinal distress.

Wow, that was so exciting I may have to store up a couple races for the next one.

later, hah