Once more the snow slowly melted away from Bald Mountain Pass, at 10,700' the high point of the course from Kamas to Evanston. In fact, the road was opened barely a week before the race, which was to take place as usual on the summer solstice.
Once more I was driving to a race by myself. Ok, I did have Becky following along a couple hundred feet behind me (in her car, of course) on the way to spend a night at a friend's house in Salt Lake. Driving her own car made it much easier to bail on the race Saturday morning. The freeway construction in Salt Lake is reaching almost Houstonian proportions, and we were well on the way to St. George before I called a halt and conference. A bit of backtracking was in order, but we did get to sleep at around midnight. She got the (shortish) couch, and I was feeling too sickly to help inflate the air mattress upon which I would sleep. Poor manners, and not a good omen either.
In the morning, after the aforementioned bailout, I was driving along to Kamas despite my remaining not-so-good feeling. It was just a allergy-sinus-drainage-sore-throat thing. But since I had already paid my entry dee, I was obligated to race, right? At least the weather was nice and sunny, but not too hot.
I got all waivered and packeted, then pretended to warm up for a while. Still haven't really started to train this year, but what's a little 80-mile race over that silly 10,700' pass? Of no consequence, surely. My friend Manx, of Pocatello Tuesday night fame, was there. I'll just ride with him like on Tuesday nights.
The race was actually pretty calm for the first several miles, as every single Harley in the world blasted by. Some of them even used the other lane. Half of the pickup trucks and poorly-tuned campers in the world also had a destination that day which required them to use the same road. Carbon monoxide is good for athletic performance, right?
Well, then I got dropped. Manx later said some mountain biker went to the front and started hammering up the hill. Wheezing along, I did manage to collect about four other droppees, and we rode together for quite a while. Then the road turned up some more, and I let them go. Oh, see the map and profile I scanned in at http://www.srv.net/~hah/gallery/huc_pro.jpg - it's fun.
Alone again on the climb, I took several bottles from Chuck, who was pulling water-boy duty. It was now kind of hot on the way up, until reaching the summit where there was still some snow off to the sides and a nice cool breeze. Unfortunately, there were some slow cars in the way on the steep (fun) part of the descent. Oh well.
But after the steep part comes the long gradual slope all the way to Evanston, and the good thing about this is that you can push a 53x12 the whole way easily. So I was kind of loafing along, setting a pace that I could keep for the next 45 miles by myself, when some bozo came whizzing by. By his number, he was a 4 as well, though I was quite surprised to see him since I thought I was way way last. He was taller than I, and stomping along pretty well in his 12. I chased him down, we yo-yo'd a few times, then I proposed actually working together.
Along we went, stomp stomp stomp. We caught some other 4s. Stomp stomp stomp. Even some 5s who passed me on the climb. Then, about 20 miles out, all the stomping must have caught up with him, because after a little teeny hill I looked back and he was gone. There were still a couple others hanging around, but when I looked up to take a rest from my stomping they were gone too. Oh well.
So I got to ride the rest alone, stomp stomp stomp. I finished and stumbled over to the free massage tables to add my name to a very long waiting list. Drank some water, lay on my back for a while. This being my longest ride of the year so far, my back was hurting a bit.
I eventually got to the massage tables, as the last bus back to Kamas was preparing to roll out. Luckily they waited for us stragglers, but all that water I drank sure caught up with me on the 90-minute bus ride. Deciding to drive back "over the top" instead of the interstate this time, I arrived in Evanston to find my teammates had already conveniently checked themselves and me into my reserved hotel room. They had left a note, but were not around; so I stuffed myself in the hotel's restaurant without them.
In the morning was my least favorite stage, the 2-mile hillclimb time trial which rises 400'. Looking at the posted results, it appeared that I in fact beat three other 4s in the road race. What I could not foresee was that two of them, along with four others ahead of me, packed up and went home, perhaps in disgust.
Hurting up the hill as usual (though I did properly fasten my quick-release this time) I wondered if I had overindulged at dinner last night. Or maybe just a poor choice of entree? Of the sixteen 4s who would start the tt, I managed to beat only two. But what am I, a climber? Back to the hotel for breakfast.
After lying around the room for several hours, it was time to pack up for the downtown crit. Results posted there indicated that I lost another two minutes on the leaders in the tt, on top of the 20-plus from the road race. Maybe I could finish before everyone else started? Maybe not. I could just hang out and try not to get taken down, probably. Sounds like a plan.
The plan actually worked pretty well for the first half of the crit, as there were no real attacks on the 5-block climb. I was hanging out at the back, dangling a little but easily able to catch on each time down the other side. Then for some reason I did a yo-yo thing right before the $20 prime lap and got dropped big time on the hill because I was already anaerobic when I started up it. So I got to chase. I did get tantalizingly close to the field several times, but not quite there.
Lost another two minutes there, but beat two guys. My riding was over, but there were still several races to watch before the free beer and pizza. Not to mention the best calves contest. So watch and wait, from the shade I did. I had next-to-last place pretty much locked up.
At last the pizza arrived, and I snarfed down approximately one medium unit. Then the raffling started. Surprise, I won a warm ski hat from some place in Park City. It has a tassel which can be snug at the top of the hat, or dangling on its retractable 5" string. Ooh. Prizes to all those people who finished well. 12 deep for 1-2s, 9 deep in 3s, 6 deep in 4s (only 9 places away!), 5,4, and 3 in masters, women, juniors.
Then I rose to defend my title, and was once more selected as having the Best Male Calves (under-30-years) by an impartial, slightly drunk and just a little lewd panel of judges. Some of them remembered me from last year. Heh heh. An easy 50 bucks, a fleece hat, and whole pizza for free, so the weekend wasn't a total bust.
And I got to drive home by myself. Woo hoo.