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I'm sure you have all been eagerly awaiting this lastest report. Well, I would hate to disappoint anyone, so here it is, in easily synopsizable form.

So there was this fresh mountain bike course. I raced as a Sport, for which I had to purchase a full-year (probably expires in December) NORBA license for $29. Since I have thereby now conceded that I am stuck in Idaho for the forseeable future, I might as well get a USCF license too, right? And a new bike. I may have mentioned this before.

Back to the story line, or what passes for one. I could have done the beginner course for only $3, the cost of a one-day license. But that would be sandbagging, or so I was told by Super Dave. I saw both Jim and Super Dave in the race; I guess I should sort of describe it in a chronological fashion.

According to the newspaper article from Sunday, over 180 riders showed up for the Challenge. But about 20 were non-racers, like 30 Experts, 50 Sports, and about a million Beginners (or maybe 80). Further subdivided into categories by age and sex, naturally, but I shall fully delineate those later in the narrative. There were a great many CamelBaks in evidence, and even a few Kleins. What a surprise.

So the Experts started first, then after a minute we Sports were released, then the Beginners were unleashed after another minute. As I think I mentioned in the last biking-related message, the Experts did a lap and a half, Sports exactly one lap (of course) and Beginners took a short cut before the really nasty climb a little past midcourse. Or they were supposed to, but some vandals in the night stolethe sign at the split point. And no this-way-that-way director was sent there because it was the most well marked critical point (I saw the big signs on Thursday) but nobody rode the course (even on, say, a motorcycle) before the race started a little after eleven. Well, it was the IF Ski Club's first bike race. Perhaps they will learn from the experience.

The first two miles was a climb up a dirt road, and after staging in the second row (oooh) I sprinted a bit, ending up slightly behind the leaders when we sat down to grind up the hill. I passed a few more people, including maybe an Expert or two, and then near the end of the climb a few people started passing me. The course goes to singletrack, and I stepped out of my pedal on a uphill, letting a few more people by. But at this point I am more interested in finishing the race without ingesting rocks in any orifice than being really competitive. I am satisfied with my climbing performance, and take it pretty easy on the singletrack since I know there are plenty of rocks lurking in the bushes wating to grab wayward pedals. The course comes back to a dirt road, and several people stacked up behind me in the singletrack jump past and sit in front of me generating dust. Buttheads. Another singletrack section, and the field is stringing out enough that people aren't breathing down my neck on singletrack any more. I go across a bridge with a nasty drop and rack myself on the seat trying not to endo. I ride slowly for a while, and Jim goes by, saying something about I didn't have to wait for him. Perhaps I will get him on the next climb. Perhaps. Nearing the second bridge, a much newer and better bridge, Super Dave appears behind me. We exchange greetings, then his chain falls off again or something (it fell off four times) and I don't see him again until the race is over. I chase Jim up the next dirt road, gaining a little. We make a turn to the nasty logging road where the beginners are supposed to take the shortcut. I don't see the sign anywhere, and mention this to Jim as I go by him up the hill. I end up walking the steepest part of the climb because I can't maintain traction. Something about 24x24 not being a low enough granny, or too much loose dust, or tire pressure too high. It seems one needs bigger cogs in racing because one might be more tired than in a preliminary ride of the course. But hey, I walk up faster than I was grannying and nobody passes me. In fact, when I get back on the bike I huff up behind an Expert of the female persuasion. She offers to let me pass, but I tell her she will be faster than me on the next downhill anyway. Sure enough, the course levels off (or goes past level to a downslope) and she disappears. My downhill cautiousness continues, and I don't really see anyone until Dad and little cousin Trey appear by the trail on the ski slope just above the finish. Dad asks how I feel. I tell him I'm a little tired. I proceed down the ski slope to the finish, passing a long-haired wanker walking his bike. He was making snide comments at the pre-race meeting. Well, I was too (as usual) but mine were more amusing. At least Jim and Dave thought so. Jim and Dave are cool.

So Dad said I finished in about 1:28, and I hadn't bothered to start my timer so I didn't really care. My goal had been met, i.e. finishing in one piece. I put my bike up on the orangemobile and went back to the lodge to partake of more cold fluid replacements, as this was about 1pm on a day when the temperature would hit upper 90s. No wind though, pretty much a great day. Jim needed a ride, so I consented to hang around until the last door prize was given away since he wanted to stay for that. I guess the ski patrol is pretty tight with the paramedics and fire department (Jim is Dave's ski patrol buddy, remember) because Jim was lounging on the shaded porch of the ski patrol building with the LifeFlight chopper crew. Together we lounged over to lunch at the lodge, which was a baked potato - hey, this is Idaho, remember. The chopper crew, having had their free lunch, took off to get cool since they were wearing Nomex jumpsuits. Jim and I lounged around in the non-air-conditioned lodge (well, why _would_ you put air-conditioning in a ski lodge?) until the results were posted. Then we went and perused them. The full subdivision of racers into all the categories was quite bewildering, but I eventually managed to find myself, listed 11th in a field of 30 or so Senior Sports. Four places ahead of Super Dave, who was long gone to a softball game by that point anyway. Jim was a minute behind me, but in a different age group (over 34, I think). He was happy that he beat Luke. Luke and Patty were off riding the top half of the course again (the part the Experts repeated), the fools.

While outside scoping babes (no Kim, darn it) and scouting new lounging opportunities, out attention was drawn to a small group of people watching somebody hurl an old ten-speed. Turned out it was a hurl-the-old-ten-speed contest. We got in line. The bike was a Rampar with no tires, really heavy but having lost only the rear derailleur at the time we started watching. The accepted technique seemed to be gripping the seat and handlebars in a discus-type twirl. We inquired as to the longest throw as yet, and were informed that it was 39'6" - greatly benefiting from a good bounce, it was said. So Jim took his throws, and his best was 37' something. I went out to get the bike, and like all the others before me grunted at how heavy it was. The fork was also starting to migrate to one side, and the top and down tubes were buckling behind the head tube. It was not a pretty sight. Anyway, after a familiarization throw I used my special discus-throwing technique from high-school track to fling it 38'9" and then 35' something. Funny, I just missed a prize in high school too. But this was for a $25 gift certificate at Solitude Sports, noted climbing store. What could I get there for 25 bucks anyway, one carabiner and six inches of rope?

We eventually went back inside, where the cash (for Experts) and medals (for lesser mortals) were duly handed out. Then the door prizes started to go, even more slowly. They started tossing out water bottles and bundles of Powerbars, so that's when I got my new fluorescent orange water bottle with a bike shop name on it. Sure enough, Jim's name was called for the next-to-last prize. By that time all that was left were "Mountain Bike Rides of Teton County" booklets, just like he got last week when he was next-to-last at the previous race. So I got to keep that.