Ow, stop it, don't twist my arm, I'll tell, I'll tell.
The Lava Rama. Labor Day weekend, 1994. There I was. There I was. There I was, hacking my way through the jungle...no, wait, that was something else.
Saturday morning: changed the battery in the SHO (the Motorcraft unit, probably original, took a powder Tuesday night at the grocery store after swimming), rinsed my car but still didn't get the mineral deposits off from the sprinklers+unusual wind direction, threw both bikes in the back and sped off to Lava Hot Springs. Arrived 20 minutes before start time of 11:00, checked in, found Super Dave and Jim. I wasn't feeling all that great, but when Tom the goonyer took off at the start, I went after him - just like at Mackay. Unlike Mackay, however, I was soon sucking wind on the varying slopes and loose dirt. It really sucked to be me. Then I flatted - front brake pad rubbed through the tire. It sucked some more to be me, if that were possible. Walked a bit and found some spectators with a patch kit, then slowly rode the rest of the course without using my front brake. Finished pretty much DFL. I was not a happy camper as Dave led me back to the camp site, in a trailer park by the river. Then we rode back up the street for spaghetti, and I was feeling a little better. Used the free passes for Lava's World Famous Natural Hot Pools (TM) and I felt even more better.
Then Dave cooked me a steak, and we sat around and read our books until bedtime (Jim - _IT_; Dave - _Clear and Present Danger_; me - _Winter's Tale_). I slept not all that well (egg-carton foam is to be used as a mattress supplement, *not* substitute) but didn't have much to complain about in the morning other that the lower-40s temperature and my breakfast rations of day-old bagels and who-knows-how-old Fig Newtons. So I just complained about those. By race time, the sun had been up for a couple hours so it was almost but not quite warm enough to go short-sleeves/shorts. Which I did anyway, but managed to get fairly well warmed up on the way to the start, a mile out of town. There was a total field of 208 for the mountain bike race, but only about 57 for the road race.
The Citizens' field was about 12-15, including a random goonyer and about four Masters. One of the Masters was Carl Praeger, a locally well-known off-road racer who said he hadn't done a road race in ten years or so. When I got home, I was looking through my _NORBA News_ and saw that he won his Expert age group at the Galena Grinder.
So we start - I will be describing this race in a little more detail, since I did have a slightly better finish - and for half a mile everything is fine. Then a tri-geek attacks and half the pack takes off after him, led by yours truly, master strategist. Jim stayed back to block. Or something. We (I and everybody sucking my wheel) catch him, and get sort of a thing working. I pull off and blink, and my left contact lens takes a vacation to the lovely corner of my eye. Guess I should have had a bit more water before the race. Sucked to be me, since I didn't feel like stopping to jiggle it around because that would naturally blow me out of the race. So I rode with one eye closed for a while. That was really safe, and almost as comfortable too. My eyelid got tired, and it seemed that the thing was stuck in there for good, so I rode the rest of the race with one good eye and one very blurry eye. Meanwhile, the tri-geek attacked again. If we were smart, we would have attacked right past him. But we didn't, being citizens and all. We chased him again, and finally burned him off by about halfway (of 29.5 miles). Then ol' buddy Carl Praeger started taking Dixon-style flyers off the front, because we just passed a woman and she was drafting him, and then for no reason at all other than he wanted to narrow the field in case of a sprint. We then turned in Bancroft (try finding that on a map) into a headwind, and Super Dave fell off the back. Carl attacked again, at the end of my pull, so I took it personally and attacked at the end of his next pull. But I didn't really want to go that fast into the wind, so once again everybody was sucking my wheel. Brilliant! Thank you!
We caught the leading woman (the third had flatted on her Zipp funny bike after a couple of miles) just before the turn to go up Fish Creek Summit (elev 6022). Carl might have attacked again, but she didn't stay with us that long. Up the hill we go, and guess what, there is another headwind. I pretty quickly start to fall off even though this is my supposed more-favorite type of hill (that would be a steady grade rather than a variable grade as in the previous day's race); of course, my real favorite type of hill is the one I can see over from the base. The four in front of me are long gone by the time I reach the top, as I expect to "push over" and enjoy an as-advertised screaming mostly-straight descent. Surprise, more headwind. I have to pedal pretty darn hard (really much too hard, if you must know) to reach a paltry 32.5 mph on a 5% grade. At the bottom of the hill (or slightly before the bottom of the hill, if you must know) is the turn towards the finish. Ron, the promoter, was greatly worried about this turn - which we would "carry 40 or 50 mph" into. Not! As I round the turn, I can make out one guy ahead of me. Too far ahead of me to catch in the 3/4 mile to the finish, it turns out, though I give it a good old Beer-Bike try. Well, a Beer-Bike start from a rolling 25 mph maybe. There is nobody behind me that I can see, so I meander over the finish a couple minutes later. I go talk to the four guys who finished ahead of me; ok, or stand by them while they talk. Two non-Masters (in their first ever road race) were sprinting with each other around Carl buddy, so he got third, and the other Master was the guy I saw. Lightweights, the bunch of them; Carl rides a Vitus 979, typical of the type. So I got third in age-group, for which I was duly rewarded with a blue ribbon and medallion identical to that which I received for my place in the Tour de Los Alamos (TIOOYK). The medallion has upon it what is clearly a track cyclist - I wonder if they gave these to the mountain bikers, too? Carl was also talking about how he took one look at me and decided that he wanted to be nowhere near me in a sprint. As if he couldn't figure out I would get dropped like a stone on the 1500' climb. Still, it's nice to be noticed, I suppose, even if that causes a concerted effort to get rid of me.
Meanwhile, back at the finish line, the tri-geek comes in after a few minutes. Dave comes in five minutes after me. Another five minutes, and Jim arrives. We head back to town amid much bitching and moaning from Dave and Jim. See, I'm in better shape than they are. The day before they kicked my butt, but which day is more representative of LoToJa? Hmm? And I probably should have eaten something between breakfast and the race on Saturday, about a four hour interval. Yeah, that's it. The spaghetti won't be prepared until the 1-2-3s are finished with their three laps of the course, so we grab some more free pool passes and go stew for a bit.
At the ceremony, I get not only my ribbon, but a prize of my own (limited) selection from the prize table: a set of nesting tire levers. Hoo boy. And then, when Ron is trying to get rid of stuff, I strike it rich in the raffle: a steak dinner at a fine Lava eatery, two free car washes good in Idaho Falls, a queen-size room at a Lava lodging establishment, and _another_ small water bottle. And another pool pass, when he discovers he still has about 30 sitting around. Woo hoo! Anybody want to party down in Lava? The dinner expires after this month, but the room and pool pass are good to the end of the year.
So much for the Lavaa-Ramaa. Yesterday Dad invited some swimming pals over for a "cross-country bike ride" but they only had two bike for the parents and their two girls, so one got a horse, as did Dad, and one got Mom's "cross-country bike". It really annoys me that he cannot learn the phrase "m-o-u-n-t-a-i-n b-i-ke". We went for a little ride up behind the house, and since I did not change my tire I rode without using my very loose front brake. It was a very slow ride, except for the downhill parts.
Both tandem stokers just came down to visit me, and tell me that their captain/husbands are going to do the LoToJa on one of the tandems, and want to do a 150-mile ride this weekend from here up to Swan Valley, around to Jackson, back through Swan Valley, and back home. And Super Dave was going to ride to Jackson and back this weekend to practice with his sagger. So I will try to coordinate the two parties, I guess, and maybe even go along to see if I can make it. And Kaylyne said the prize for breaking something like 7:30' is $2500, while coming within 1/10 second of the record (or breaking it, probably) wins $10,000. Manny? Tricky? Anyone? Easy money. Just average more than 27 mph for 210 miles, over three mountain passes. Have I mentioned the distance? Or the climbs?
Anyway, time to go.