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So how was the Idaho City Excellent Adventure, you ask? Pretty excellent for me, anyway. Got my new 8-sp hubs and GripShift mostly squared away, though the Trek Wrench Force guy recommends an actual Shitmano 8-sp rear derailleur rather than my current Suntour 7-sp mechanism. Works better than a seized freewheel. First day was a 4-mile downhill and circuit race.

There we were, all of us peons sitting around up there waiting for the pro/experts to finish starting. Eating free PowerBars. At least the weather was nice - very little mud all weekend, glory be. Then some "expert" from Utah named Mike King (not _the_ Mike King) wipes out on the last bumps before the finish. Catches his full-face helmet on a passing rock. Snaps his neck. Mike King will not be personally moving his arms or legs ever again. We sit around a _lot_ more quietly while the medevac chopper comes and gets him. Then, hey, start up the race again. I for one am even more cautious on the downhill which I have foolishly not pre-ridden. Slow enough that I don't even crash a little bit. And a time of about sixth in my field of eight Clydesdales, several of whom have a distinct weight, if not aerobic, advantage over me.

Circuit race: 1-mile course, including the berms from last year's Banzai circuit race, but going down instead of up, and without the water crossing (currently at least knee-deep thanks to a non-drought winter) from that race. I huff and puff, and can't get clipped in between berms on the last lap, which costs me first place maybe as I was kind of gaining on the winner. But I'm all alone in second. I get a ribbon w/medallion.

Watching the experts fly over the bottom berm was entertaining. One guy was far OTB so he started doing tricks for the kids shouting "go for air!" The last time through he got a little too much sideways and came down on his butt. Then he couldn't un-spd one side so he was flopping around on the ground, spectators trying really hard not to laugh too loudly.

Next day, cross-country. I weigh in at (surprise!) 198, seven pounds fewer than at Wendover. I figure this means I must beat the 230-pounders by at least eight minutes to negate their increased handicap of 15 sec/lb. No problem. I go off and ride the circuit course to warm up. Experts go, in a cloud of dust. Sports go 30 minutes later, in an even bigger cloud of dust - looks like around 200 of them. An hour later, I start with the beginners, all 200+ of them. This race sets a new record for an Idaho MTB race, almost 500 participants. I once more stage right at the back. Just _had_ to do one more circuit. So I am standing around with the people in sneakers and denim shorts, listening to them talk about competing for the dead-last-rubber-chicken-award. Doing a medium simmer at myself for again staging in the worst possible location. Then I put the anger to use as we all start off in a really huge cloud of dust. I pass people like mad, keep passing up the initial climb until there are only five guys ahead of me. At this point I start swapping places with people on ups and downs, fire roads and singletrack. Surely way ahead of any 230-lb competitors. Technically my best race so far, I think. Corners felt good. I did drop my chain about three times trying to shift both derailleurs at once - anyone got a last-year's XT rear derailleur sitting around? Last part of the course was the downhill from the previous day, which I went down with much more confidence. Even passed somebody on it. Then got to the finish and had my time at about 1:20'. Twiddled my thumbs until the second Clydesdale came in - about eight minutes later, woo hoo!

So I actually won my class for the first time ever. Would have placed 7th in Sr. Beginner, but you have to figure the top five are sandbaggers who don't want to buy a license to race Sport. Got a $50 REI rear-rack bag and some gloves for my trouble. Got lots of shit from Cara and Paula about being too strong for the Clydesdale class - "it's for people who aren't in good shape, to encourage them to just come out." They can kiss my large white butt, I read "over 190" and I therefore qualify. Of course, if I drop any more weight I really won't qualify.

But not to worry, I gained an easy ten pounds while in Texas last week, non-exercising and staying up late playing poker and drinking beer. Wore my monkey suit and uncomfortable shoes at the wedding, and in my role as groomsman was proud to be part of maybe 10% of the thousands of photographs taken that day.