Yup, two whole races. Woo hoo.
I was accompanied on this fine first weekend of summer (from the temperature anyway) by the lovely and talented Peter-from-the-pool. His tent and roommateís sleeping bag proved invaluable as I again neglected to make reservations and then tried to stay in a college town on a Friday night. What is it with all these tournaments and graduations? Canít they have them during the week? On a happy note, Utah has seen fit to raise Interstate speed limits to 75 mph. Yay.
Anyway, being denied a room in Provo, we pressed on another 40 miles to Eureka itself, site of the race start on the morrow. We set up camp near an abandoned mine entrance at 2am by headlight, for Eureka is smack dab in the middle of Utahís Historic Tintic Mining District, "Not Just a Hole in the Ground."
I got up at seven, not being helped by the lack of air in the air mattress I had found in a corner of the basement at home. I rousted Peter and we went in search of a bathroom, for we had forgotten one of campingís essential supplies. But we were in luck, there was a nice gas station right across the street from the race start at the high school. Then with two hours to kill we Nerfed a bit in the morning sun. The warm, just about to get seriously hot morning sun.
By the start time of ten, it was pushing 85 degrees, and hereís the course profile: start in Eureka at 6400í, descend for the first 15 miles to 4600í (first seven miles were neutral), go back up to 4800í at 20 miles, flat until the first climb at 35 miles up to 5500í, down and then up a couple hundred feet, down to 5100í at mile 55, then slowly back up to 6400í in Eureka at mile 75. Sounds like fun, eh? Sure, Iím a born climber.
I guess I should add that Peter wimped out and did the citizen/5s 45-mile out-and-back, abetted by his continuing omission from his wallet of the very-important-for-doing-USCF-races USCF license. Therefore I was alone in the 4/5s with 41 other misfits, following the 12-odd 1/2s, the 16-even 3s and the woman who raced with them. So Peter will just have to supply his own report. As soon as his computer gets fixed.
There I was, zooming down the hill for the fist 15 miles. Whee! I was good at that. Then on the flat I stayed near the front, drifting to the back to safely open PowerBar right before the climb. Brilliant strategy! If you want to get dropped on a climb anyway. Did I mention the flock of sheep being herded along the road? At least that wasnít on the climb. There I was, getting dropped on the climb. As usual, I get to the top and collect a few people, time-trialing my way up to what turns out to be the chase group. There we rotate, receiving helpful advice from a 2 who happens to be sitting in. I make it up the next slight rise with this group, through a feed zone where, since I have no support, I donít get to pick up anything. Itís pretty hot by this time, and my three 28oz bottles are beginning to show the effects. Hopefully there will be neutral bottles at the second feed zone.
Now for some reason the group stops working so well together, and I blast off the front with two others and a trailer. We develop a decent rotation, and some miles fly by (we must be on a slight downhill). We catch a 3 and the woman-who-races-with-3s sucking his wheel, and they latch on to us for a while. They fall off. We get to a hill, and I fall off. Oh, it sucks to be me. 20 miles to go, Iím getting some more time-trial practice, itís really hot, and Iíll probably run out of water before the finish which, did I mention, is up a hill.
I catch another shredded 3. We have a deep conversation. "Man, itís hot." "Yeah." He sucks my wheel through the second feed, where there are indeed neutral bottles and only us two to hand them up to. Much better. I have a couple big drinks, say goodbye to the 3, and am off munching on a PowerBar with a full (if small) bottle.
But itís still pretty much sucking to be me as I watch the miles count up. Now, if I had one of those fancy new Avocet 45ttís, I could be watching the miles count down instead. Oh well, what can you do. About five miles to go, thereís finally somebody back there behind me. Itís time to go back up the hill to Eureka. Two 4s go by. The 3 who had been pulling the woman around shows up by himself. It flattens a little, I pass him. It steepens a little, ha passes me. The lead pack of masters (three of them) zoom by. The last mile is through the old mining town to the high school on top of the hill. How picturesque. At the finish, the 135-lb 3 lets me ride away from him. Woo hoo. Peter is over talking to some girl. Of course.
I get off the bike, stumble around a bit. Need water. Find water. Hey, they are serving pasta! Yum. We can take showers in the high schoolís locker room - way cool. I didnít bring a towel, but am dry within two minutes of walking outside again. Itís pretty hot, I donít think I mentioned that yet. Now we wait for results. Iím pretty sure Iím in the upper half somewhere. We Nerf some more, moving as little as possible. Oh. The ball went over there. I guess Iíll go get it.
More pasta arrives, and the results are posted. It doesnít take quite as long as your average mountain bike race fubar. Turns out I got 11th. Hey, great. Now letís go get in the car and turn on the a/c.
The temperature is 95 and climbing as we go back down into the valley and head for Oasis, Nevada for the next dayís mountain bike race. Ooh, I forgot to tell about how much my car hates pushing four bikes though the wind (2x road, 2x mtb). My car does not like this. Mileage is down from 31 on the Lewiston trip (bike inside, 66mph average including a gas stop, half twisty roads - drive 65 - and half Montanabahn - drive at least 75) to about 25 (4 bikes on top, hold the speed to 65 all the time). So thatís why I donít drive around with bikes on top. Little cars with little engines like to be unencumbered. And the oil temp is probably higher than normal, though itís been at least a year since I have driven in ambient temps over 95. And up the temperatures go. In Wendover, on the Nevada-Utah border, my car says itís 101 outside.
We look for signs of the downhill and circuit races that we missed by being in Eureka, and see a few bikers leaving, and then my carís in-the-fuel-tank transfer pump decides it doesnít like this heat very much, so it stops working. The main fuel pump is not too pleased at this mutinous behavior, and makes the car stumble a bit, along with a nasty buzzing. Hmmm. Itís 6pm on a Saturday, the closest VW dealer is in Salt Lake, 125 miles away. We pause in the shade of a grocery store to allow Peter to round up some necessary supplies and the car to cool off a bit. With a little cajoling (the car) and whining (us, at the turning off of the a/c), we get on the road to Oasis.
Itís a little higher and a little cooler in Oasis, and we promptly set up camp near the hotel annex to the gas station which is all there is to Oasis. $1.78 for premium, too. Iím sure my car will make it to Twin Falls on the tank I got in Eureka. And hey, with cooler temps the transfer pump decides to work again, so the buzzing goes away. Happy happy.
There are all kinds of mountain biker people camping out, and we go for a little ride with a couple mountain biker people I know. Get the legs moving again. Hey, my butt really hurts after 75 miles. Better take some air out of that rear suspension for tomorrow. Peter makes some delicious Polish-sausage-dogs, and we call it a night.
Up in the morning, and I wander over to help with registration so I can race for free. My talents are immediately recognized (I know the alphabet) so I am put in charge of looking through the box of pre-registered entries. Hi, whatís your name? No, your last name. I do this for an hour or so, then I get to go warm up. Which is fine, except that my race isnít for another hour and a half. Peter looks bored, so I hook him up with Ronda for something to do - he can pull off back-tags at the finish!
I go lie down in the tent some more. I ride around. Finally itís time for my start. Hmm, the beginner field looks small today. In fact, later Ron says this is the first time the senior beginner field hasnít been the largest. Anyway, off we go. Only 12 Clydesdales, too. First part of the course (and itís not muddy and snowy this year!) is fairly flat, and I motor away from the others in my start group. Iím feeling pretty good after yesterday, even. After a mile I start catching beginners who started a minute before me, and work on some of them until the climbing starts.
Then Iím pretty much alone except for this one guy I work on for a while, then when I pass him he says, "What? Youíre a Clydesdale?" But now the course turns to singletrack which is kind of loose and dusty in spots, so I let him go ahead. Since I donít want to kill myself on a protruding sagebrush stump. Up, down, around, more singletrack and doubletrack. I pass someone having trouble on a climb, he passes me, I pass him back. Sip, sip, sip goes the Camelbak.
After a really bumpy section of singletrack that has become singletrack only because Ron went over it with a lawnmower, the last mile of slight downhill gravel road is in sight. I pass two guys, then a woman who turns out to be a pro/expert having a slow day. I finish comfortably in the lead for the Clydesdale class as Peter removes my tag, but am mildly surprised to see second place arrive only a few minutes later. Heís no climber, but he must motor on the downhill and singletrack where I was kind of taking it easy. No forcible dismounts, only a couple dabs.
Time to wait around for results again. This time they are not using the computer so results are promised much faster, using the board of tags for placings with stickers on the tags for time. Thereís still time to kill, so after taking a shower I amuse myself by breaking camp and packing the car. Whee. I wander around shirtless in an attempt to ameliorate my cyclistís/farmerís tan. Cooked the back of my neck but I still have hideous bicep lines.
Time for awards. Which means more waiting, because Ron does Clydesdale awards very close to last. On the podium (the highest one, donít you know), along with my nice medal, I receive a Camelbak. ButÖI already have one. Thatís what I donít say, itís better than the shorts (non-cycling shorts) or green or yellow tires some of the other first place winners got. I smile winningly instead, and go back to my shady spot.
Then itís time to go, and I get Peter a t-shirt for his volunteer effort. When we get home, I give him the Camelbak too, since I already have one, but warn that he must become a mountain bike racer now, for only geeks use Camelbaks on the road.
The trip home is uneventful. No car problems. Nevadaís new speed limits are 75 on Interstates, 70 on two-lane highways. Slowing to 65 as we enter Idaho, we stop in Twin Falls to admire the Shoshone Falls which have a great deal of water rushing over them as last weekís heat wave melts snowpack, and dine at one of the two Mongolian BBQís in town. Now thereís something I donít understand. Twin Falls is 2/3s the size of IF, and they have *two* Mongolian BBQs, with all-you-can-eat-cooked-right-in-front-of-you-on-a-big-hot-plate-with-a-stick buffets, and we have none? Truly a mystery of the universe.
Home at around 11, after we throw all Peterís junk out of the car at his place. I still have his two bike mounts on my rack, though. But weíll have to put them all on his (my old) rack for the trip to Atlanta. So I guess they will have to get used to being moved around.
Thatís about it. Time to go grocery shopping now.