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My first big stage race as a Cat V, woo hoo. Little did I know that there is supposedly some USCF rule which prevents V's from either doing crits in stage races or winning money in them. Due to this particular piece of horse puckey, the other V's and I got to participate in 1) the road race and 2) the hillclimb time trial, and were gratuitously excluded from 3) the crit.

1) the road race. Name changed this year from "Over the Top" to "Snow-N-Go" because of the 10-15' of snow still occupying the 10,700' pass (the "TOP" we didn't get to go OVER). The Transportation Department thinks the road will maybe be open around the end of July. So the Snow-N-Go was a mere 62 miles (as opposed to 80), and consisted of climbing from Kamas, UT (elev. 6400) up to the snow line at mile 23 (elev. 9700). Turn around a traffic cone, back down to the nat'l forest boundary at mile 5 (elev. ~6800). Turn around a different but similar traffic cone, finish back at the snow line. Up-down-up again. This way the race had 6000' vertical, as opposed to only 4000' for just going over the pass. Boy, was it fun. Weather: a bit chilly, partly cloudy - tights and armwarmers are in order.

Us low-class Cat V's started with the Competitive Citizens. Could there be more reasons to upgrade as soon as possible? There was this one guy on a Ti Lemond, borrowed teammate-Tom's pump before the start and had his new tires up to 150 before Tom pointed out this rather high pressure. Then this citizen-squirrel proceeds to weave and swerve the entire race, making a throat-clearing noise which sounds just like a flat happening, and stretching his neck every two minutes. He nearly took me out several times, and did in fact cut right in front of someone else so closely that his back tire rubbed the victim's front. He was a major pain in the butt. Surely had we been Cat IV's we would have gotten pissed and dropped him, but then again he wouldn't have been riding with us in that case.

Anyway, there was lots of climbing. I stayed with the pack of about ten until the last mile or so before the finish, where I gradually fell off as the hill got even steeper. After the turnaround I accreted a few other splintered fellows and we chased back on down the hill. I was congratulated on both my large draft and prodigious downhill velocity. We managed to get back to the pack about halfway down the hill.

Close to the turnaround, as I happen to be at the front gradually slowing down, the squirrel comes sprinting by. Slams on his brakes, overshoots the cone horribly, comes out of the turn in about the same position as before. What a moron!

As we un-eagerly begin the climb again, a moose crosses the road about 50 feet in front of us. A very large moose. We yield to the moose. Somewhere around this time one guy sneaks off the front as we are napping, gets out of sight, and puts about a minute on second place - who thought he was first place until he got to the finish. Back up the hill. At this point we, the lead V's have caught several IV's including both my teammates at the race, and eventually dropped them.

Grind, grind, grind. The next day Tom says his legs are just killing him, but after suffering so greatly at Teton Village last weekend this really isn't so bad. Sure, I'm hurting, but at least I'm not pushing the bike up a ski run seven times. I finish about fifth in category, a couple of citizens are ahead of me; but I beat the squirrel. Best time for the I/II's is a little over 3 hours, first V is 3:18'; my time is a little over 3 1/2.

The snow starts to appear on the side of the road about a mile from the finish, and at the snow line - where some snowmobilers had to be chased off the road earlier in the day - the banks are about six feet tall. Not that it's especially cold after climbing the hill, but after a while it would be nice to get in a warm car. Luckily I have such a car, thanks to my little sister who has thoughtfully driven mine up to the finish. I throw on the racks and take Tom's bike down as he rides with Terry, my other teammate. Eddy of course goes inside. It begins to snow, which turns into rain as we get lower.

Laura and I drop Tom's bike off at his Vanagon and depart for Evanston. It rains some more on the way. I set a new world record for miles on a single tank of gas in my car, 448 miles on a refill of 13.6 gal (capacity 14.5 gal). That's 33 mpg, and I wasn't driving slowly either. The only thing that has changed on my car since the accident (other than return to specified dimensions) is the air dam, which is now held in place with real metal nuts instead of the plastic inserts VW uses. Plastic ones break and the air dam kind of flops around in the middle, but 10% better mileage?

Eat dinner, watch support vehicle videotape of I/II's climbing. Oooh.

2) hillclimb time trial. Starts at 7:30 am Sunday morning. Way too early, especially for those of us (V's, citizens) who won't be doing any crits in the afternoon. Couldn't we be last, at about 10 or so? Well, no.

The course goes up Airport Road to, of course, the airport. I pre-ride it and my odometer shows 1.9 miles. The airport sign says 7100', Evanston is at 6700' according to the race handout. Therefore, 400' gain in 1.9 miles. The start is flat, then up the steepest of the several climbs. Flat, hill, (false) flat, hill, (false) flat, hill. My time is 7'55", second worst of the five V's to complete the TT. The other five V's went home after the RR, I guess. Best time for a I/II is around 6'30". I appear to be a bit tired from the climbing yesterday, and the altitude isn't helping any. Should have slept in a hyperbaric chamber.

So pow, I'm finished racing at around 8am. Do I skip town, or stick around for the free-pizza-and-beer party? Oh, and I must collect my 3rd place medallion. So I stay for pizza.

3) the crit. The 1.3 mile course, in downtown Evanston, has a nasty hill for six blocks followed by a descent, a little flat spot by the start/finish then the hill again. Tom gets dropped around the fifth lap (of 15 for IV's) in the sprint for a $20 prime. He finishes at about ninth in the field of fifteen, just out of the money which goes to seven places.

Tom's friend Allan, a III, flats just as the free-lap rule expires. He does manage to chase back on by the next lap, but then explodes big time and finishes about 30 seconds down. He still gets ninth, a money spot for III's. Both the III's and the I/II's crits are won by a solo breakaway artist.

On to the party. The promoter starts raffling things off. I get nothing. Tom gets a fluorescent green hat which he will give to his dad. Some lucky stiff gets a new pair of Rossignols, vg2's or something like that. He dances around. It is time for the Best Calves contest. I don't make it to the finals, probably because I haven't had enough beer to be shoving everyone else aside to present myself to the judges. Wait, I haven't had any beer. No wonder I'm so glum. Tom, whose calves look very much indeed like mine, gets to the finals only to lose to some little skinny guy. We wuz robbed!

Ribbon in hand, I depart lovely Evanston. Speed all the way through Utah, drive through heavy rain for the last hour, and get home at eleven. Flop into bed.

This week: watch as I attempt to juggle getting new tires on my car, going to Pocatello on Thursday to watch the PowerBar circuit race, installing a new rear derailleur on my mountain bike, driving to Boise for a crit and mtb circuit race on Saturday, watching the final two PowerBar stages there, and oh yes, training. Probably just go on the club ride tomorrow. Woo hoo.

later, hah