I suppose you are all just dying to hear all about it. How uncharacteristic of me would it be to disappoint my loyal public.
The Lo-to-Ja merriment began in the parking lot across from Sunrise Cyclery (of Logan, Utah) before sunrise. For a change, the race did not start on time. I also had never started a race so early, or for that matter so cold. Actually it didn't seem as cold as I thought it would be, maybe mid-40s at the start. So I didn't go for the full three layers, just my new PI outfit over the pink Rice jersey and shorts. No nice warm gloves, either.
We citizens rolled out. There were two mountain bikes, one of them with RockShox even. What an idiot. Everything went quite well for the first few miles (even almost stopping for traffic lights) but then we must have descended past an inversion layer or something because it got *really cold*. We all whined a bunch. My computer indicated I was traveling between 1 and 2 mph - it does that when it is really cold. Super Dave and I made snide comments about the guy on the mountain bike, and whoever else was different in any way. The sort-of pack turned into a sort-of paceline by the time of the first real climb, past Preston at 40 miles. Somehow I found myself at the front for this climb. So I went up the hill nice and slow, and many people went chuckling around me at the top. _Then_ there was another hill, and I climbed past almost everybody. Unbelievable. There were still a few people in front of me (like everyone who started before - 12345s, Masters, tandems) but then I was mostly alone for the next 50 miles. I caught a tandem. I passed a couple guys taking a pee break. I caught a couple other guys. It was very boring.
The first feed, at 66 miles, went pretty well. Really really well, if you consider that it was my first ever handup reception and my crew's first ever handup. The whole feeding/eating thing was not quite as difficult as I had imagined, though I did drop some pop-tart fragments and a few fig newtons when I hit bumps in the road. This having a support crew thing is pretty cool. They feed you and stuff. My crew was excellent, and they didn't even have much time to kill talking on their ham radios and drinking beer.
A little before Soda Springs there appeared a nasty headwind, so I slowed down a bit (this was purely voluntary). I figured the pack was going to catch me eventually, so I should probably not be killing myself in the wind. Of course, if I had been really smart I would have been sucking wheel the whole time. But there did not seem to be anyone around riding about the same speed.
After Soda Springs, home of the world's only captive geyser (do they keep it in a cage?), I caught a couple more guys and a tandem right before a mixed pack of citizens caught me. This tandem was way cool. It looked like a couple of those MAGIC X-frame bikes pasted together - mostly carbon, though. The (mixed) crew had matching Genius-2s. They were serious technodweebs. So Super Dave was in this pack, and he said, "Henry!" and I said, "Super Dave!" He said that this pack had done a group pee stop back before Soda. What coordination!
We rode with this pack a while, through another feed zone, and some rolling hills, but then another pee stop was occasion for a breach of etiquette by the leaders of the pack. They took off while I was still shaking, being that it was my first stop (in about 100 miles! a new world's record!) and I had more to unload. I was last to get back in the saddle, and Super Dave was kind of waiting for me, but the leaders were pushing the pace and shredded the pack so we picked up some splinters as I pulled to the next feed zone. Which was right before the dreaded Tincup Pass.
Upon which all my splinters, including Super Dave, fell right off my wheel. When and where did I learn to climb? None of the climbs in the race were even as bad as lil' ol' Pine Creek Pass, let alone Teton Pass. I caught up to this cat 5, and rode with him to the top of the pass. Then on the way down we picked up some more splinters. At the next intersection, I looked back and there was Super Dave (so I shouted, "Super Dave!" and he shouted "Henry!") along with the 13-year-old kid, who was starting to annoy me. But who is riding smarter, the guy pulling or the guy sucking his wheel?
We rode some more. We were riding for quite a long time, you know. Catch a few more guys, occasionally drop somebody off. The X-frame tandem showed up again, recovering a speed advantage after the big climb. The cat 5 I rode up Tincup with kept riding away, and we eventually let him go. I sort of rode away on a few minor climbs where I was pulling (whaaat?!?), but didn't really feel like going the last 50 miles by myself too.
After the first hundred miles, I was hurting a bit. Here, let me be more specific. I got some cramps along my inner thigh, I don't know why (perhaps I'll die); they were banished at first by some Tums, but then stayed for the last 40 miles. My lower back kind of hurt for some reason. All that bending over? Not riding 200 miles on a regular basis? And my right knee, not Henry's-chronic-annoying-injury-#2- *left*-knee, started hurting a bit too. Just for good measure.
I didn't feel very hungry the last 40 miles, either. Probably should have forced myself. Ow, twist my arm, make me eat a fuzzy fig newton.
We finally emerged from the seemingly interminable Snake River Canyon and were able to see in the distance the road coming down from Teton Pass, meaning Jackson was only ten miles away, then another ten to Teton Village. Whereupon I flatted, and neither Super Dave nor the 13-year-old offered me his wheel. Imagine! And no support vehicles in sight by this time, either. They were too spread out. Hoping for a slow leak, (since I had been feeling a little "low" for a few miles) I just pumped it up and started riding again, noticeably faster. For a little while. Then I took off the wheel and changed the tube. While about seven people passed me. I was not a happy camper. Got it changed, and took off again.
I caught those guys in Jackson at a light, and then went ahead with two followers. Forging ahead to Teton Village. Whilst my compatriots were taking their turn at the front, I amused myself considering their modes of transportation. One guy, a little older than the other, had some random Eye-talian steel frame with six-speed DA; while Mr. Techno had a Kestrel and two-count-them-two TriSpokes (order your Shrapnel Bike (TM) now! quantities are limited!) with, of course, STI.
In sight of the tram towers, I noted that with a slight increase in effort we could just make ten hours, so we did. My personal ET was 9:59'56" - an average of slightly _over_ 20 mph! That's assuming the race was the full advertised 203 miles; on the one hand my computer lost about ten miles in the morning cold (the clock was still two minutes faster than my watch at the end of the day), but on the other hand my crew said the feed zones were right on the money at the indicated mileages. So I ended up with only 178 miles indicated, plus 10 is about 190. Did I take a short cut somewhere? Sure didn't feel like it.
So I finished. Sucked down some sport drink, limped around a bit, and we were out of there. Super Dave went looking for his spare wheels, and Dave Weatherston just kind of lay down in the dirt and took a little nap while Kaylyne put his bike on the car. Got home, limped around some more. Gosh, I enjoy limping. Took a hot bath.
Sunday morning I somehow woke up before it was much too late to drive over to Jackson for the award ceremony, so I called Super Dave. Well, first I got his roommate, but eventually Dave made it to the phone. He had not found the wheels, so actually needed to go back to Jackson, and said he would be right over. We got to "the Village" in time for the tail-end of the awards, including hundreds of sunglasses-straps and Makita keychains for everyone. The best time was 8:39', a little off the typical 8:15'. And not even close to the $2500 7:30' mark. Oh well. A tandem missed the $10,000 time by 3.4 seconds, but they weren't even around to moan about it. The high prizes were Makita drills (cordless even!), Enflite racks, and cash in bundles of $1 and $2 bills. Everybody who placed got some Pocket Rocket stuff (oh boy) and a T-shirt.
Then the award ceremony was over, so I went to discover my placing and official time. They had me down for 8th in class, probably about right, but at a time of 10:10'. So I bitched about that for a little while - Avocet 40 stopwatches are ET, not "riding time" - then went over to Super Dave. He had just talked to the 13-year-old (who he pulled all the way to the finish after I flatted, then the kid says, "Let's make this look good," and takes off at the line) who had a time of 9:53'. That sounded about right. But Super Dave, who finished _immediately_ behind the kid, had an official time of 10:13' - slower even than my official time, though he finished in front of me. I'm pretty sure about that. All three of us started in the same pack. The official times were messed up that far down, I guess. We just aren't important enough. But I know in my heart that I finished under 10 hours. Supposedly the results will be mailed to everyone in a week or so; maybe it will be fixed by then. Yeah, right.
So much for this report. Up next: _The Banzai_, this weekend in Boise.