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I was a bit apprehensive about this race. The weather looked about the same as last year, sunny and warm (finally!) and I had used my whole Camelbak in one lap, but as a sport I would be doing two laps, lots of climbing (1500' per 8-mile lap according to the book). Would there be enough water? The suspense, it was scary. At least I appeared to be gaining an advantage coming into this race from the previous weekend's win over my main competitor, Mark Stones.

Still no GTI, but at least it has been towed into town to get the tranny swapped instead of just sitting in the back yard. The Audi made the trip smoothly as usual, about three hours from my house to the Galena Lodge.

Good weather - check. After working registration until the last minute, I got my bike out and gave Jay a water bottle to handup. Mark arrived late again, we both had time only for a few spins around the parking lot. One other sport clydesdale this time, some other guy from Boise, he promised not to be a factor at registration. Again, a fair number of vet sports to start with. They were a little hairy at the start, but since the first half-mile was fairly flat I sprinted by most everybody - have to give Mark something to chase or he will ride at his own pace.

The long climb started. Unsurprisingly, I slowed. Still passing a few people, but the climbers are going by at a steady rate. No Mark around. Top of that climb drops into singletrack descent where Bob Wood jumped around and dusted me all the way to the finish several years ago. But Mark is not in sight to pull that trick. I can treat the first lap as practice, then let some more hang out on the second lap. Up a little more, then down some. Around the back side, there is fast rolling fire road in the shade of the trees, and some rumbling overhead announces clouds moving in. Not using as much water as last year, maybe I won't even need the extra bottle?

It feels like a pretty good day as I reel in several more individuals through the remainder of the first lap. Hammer down to the start/finish, pick up the convenient bottle handup and a PowerGel, and I'm on the second lap. Feeling pretty good, I don't think anyone passed me after the end of the big climb on the first lap (because all the better climbers are of course far ahead of me at that point). I continue to chase people down all the way up the climb, down the singletrack, around the fire road, back into the finish. After using the bottle, I still have about half the Camelbak left, so I probably could have made it without the extra bottle. Better to carry too much water than not enough - Brian from Poky lost his big bottle on the first lap so he was sipping from a little bottle the rest of his three laps.

Mark comes in 13 minutes later, so much for his not-gonna-beat-me-by-seven-minutes-again mumbling at the start. It was another good day, a fine Fourth of July. And another pair of too-small gloves won.

The Idaho Falls fireworks start just as I drive through town, and are still going for about ten minutes after I get home. Not as impressive as the River Festival's, but what can you do.