This year the Oasis race was the official Nevada State Championship for cross-country and downhill. State of sin champion, woo hoo. It also conflicted with the Twin Rivers Classic in Lewiston, which I had been to for two years in a row versus three for Oasis. My decision was made simpler by the fact that I could actually make money working for Ron at the mountain bike race and stay in staff accommodations for free, instead of paying entry fee and three days hotel in Lewiston. Half the driving distance, too. Because I'm having a "temporary non-positive cash flow situation", you see.
Anyway, since the northern half of Utah went to Idaho for the Memorial Day weekend, I took advantage of some lonely secondary highways in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada to make the trip in under four hours via Audi. Whee!
The Wild Rockies staff were staying in the run-down motel associated with the closed gas station at the Oasis exit on I-80. We might be the last ones to stay there, supposedly a big casino is in the works but in the meantime it's about time to drive a dozer through that motel. I somehow got the largest room, complete with working lightbulb in the bathroom, functioning sink, toilet, and shower, missing only hot water and an accommodating maid. Linens of unknown vintage on the bed, so a sleeping bag on top was the way to go.
I noted a distinct lack of campers when I arrived, due perhaps to the race start being moved two miles up the road to the Pequop Ranch. The start-finish was on the rancher's front lawn, and camping was in an upper meadow. What a guy, much better than the deserted gas station. Unless you don't have a tent but do have a hotel room key, which was my situation.
In the morning (Saturday) all of us staff packed up and headed for the ranch. Got my bike out, took a spin around the campgrounds and parking areas to see what I could see. Rich was not planning to be in attendance, Mark was there but sick with a cold. Back to the big tent to help with registration. Wrote names on back tags for the next several hours, until it was almost time to start.
Because of the whatever-you-want-to-call-it weather pattern, the planned expert course extension was still under some four feet of snow. The experts would have to ride the same 21-mile course as the sports, so they started just before the sports and then beginners went off for the 15-mile course some time later.
Quite a large men's pro/expert field showed up, over 50 out of the total just under 300 racers for the day. Off they went, followed by other starts, yadda yadda yadda. My start, again with the vet sports. Some of them had been complaining beforehand about my fast starts, but so sorry, that's how I get ahead of Rich before the downhills. So I took off again, not that there weren't a couple vet sports in front of me. Off the lawn, up the driveway for a bit, then into some pretty flat singletrack. Here there were some guys starting to bitch about me going slower through the singletrack, until I caught the leaders who were being slowed by the laggards from a previous start. So all together we came out onto a rolling jeep trail, and sorted ourselves out. No sign of Mark, he said he didn't see me after the start. The jeep trail turns onto the old familiar part of the course, after the old start's flat part where it starts to climb. Gradually at first, then more inclination.
I held a fairly stable position on this climb, passing a few guys but not many passing me except for a couple skinny juniors who whizzed by. At the top it heads downward (duh) alternating between singletrack and jeep trail. There were a couple guys who really wanted to pass me but then just kind of sat in front of me once they passed. Eventually got rid of them on a jeep trail.
Singletrack, jeep trail. Up, down. Caught several pro/expert women having a bad day. Turned onto the sport loop extension. More singletrack, more jeep trail. A little mud. Some creek crossings. Grinding climb up the downhill course. Down the other side. Long jeep trail descent to the under-freeway tunnel. Which was full of mud, ick. Some ups and downs on the other side of the freeway, back under it again. Having a pretty good time on the descents, not pushing a big gear downhill but not riding the brakes all the time either. Back on the south side of the freeway I notice the left crankarm is loose. Uh-oh, me without an 8mm hex wrench.
I try to be gentle on the crankarm, but that's a difficult thing to do in the middle of a bike race. Actually it's close to the end of the bike race, so that's good. Eventually it gets so loose that I stop and tighten the bolt with my fingers, good enough to finish. A last little steep hill, then bombing down a jeep trail and through the rancher's upper meadows, missing the added-for-downhill jump just after the pond, and the finish line.
Tags are going through the tent to have times written on them instead of directly to the tag board (no little stickers for times?) so it's a while before mine appears, but there are no others apart from the class marker. Guess Mark really was sick. There turns out to be one other guy in our class who comes in after me, then Mark shows up 50 minutes after my finish. Sick *and* four flats, resulting from a very sharp rock and a spare fixed not quite as functionally as he thought.
Hang out some more. Watch the bike limbo contest. Awards. I win a 1/2 scale titanium BB spindle keyring and $25 gift certificate to a bike shop in Ontario, Oregon. Just over the border, 50 miles from Boise. Sure, next time I'm in town. And, a blue ribbon medal signifying that I am the Official Nevada State Champion. That's going on the race resume.
Back to the "hotel" where we thought we had discovered some propane in the water heater's fuel tank, but we were mistaken. No showers, or no hot showers. I splash my face and call it good, having mostly hosed off back at the ranch.
Sunday morning it's back to the ranch for the downhill. It's been suggested that I ride because there is only one other clydesdale (only one clydesdale class for downhill) and I am thinking about it. But the original downhill course, like the expert loop, had too much snow to ride. Because of the weather, including some showers overnight, the modified course is somewhat muddy at the top. Again I decide it's not worth getting muddy for seven minutes, and have now passed up two of the six downhills in the South series for the year. Oh well. Even though I would have liked the flat finish though the same meadow as the cross country.
There is certainly plenty of work to do adding day-of registrants to the pre-registered entries I put in the computer the night before. Total is 99 by the time the race starts. And since we have synchronized timers at the top and bottom, sending riders in order of plate number is just a convenience and not a necessity. Ron radios down the start time for a rider number, we write it down, when that rider finishes we get the time off the finish timer and type them into the computer, which calculates elapsed times and rankings by class. The really painless way would be to link both the start and finish timers to the computer as is done for dual slalom, but the downhill courses are longer at several miles than a dual slalom of only a hundred yards or so.
Even though I have to go stand 20 feet from the tent holding the radio to get good reception for most of the race, I have all the results done and printed by the time Ron gets back from the start line. Doublechecking times with his printout gives me a 1% error rate on roundoffs and a couple of incorrect transcriptions in the <10sec range. No money places are affected, so the posted results stand despite the odd individual saying, "are you sure that's my time, no way that other guy beat me!"
Ron finishes up his big air contest (from the jump before the finish) and hands out awards. Everybody leaves, except the few who stay to tear down. Eventually that's done, and we go back to the hotel after scoring burgers from the rancher's wife. More waiting back at the hotel, then everyone heads off to Wells for dinner and then a refreshing dip in the 12-mile Hot Springs around midnight. Ron's really tired so I get to drive the Official Wild Rockies Chevy dually back to Oasis. It's huge.
After sleeping in Monday morning, it's time to go exploring in "the cave". A limestone formation found by miners in the hills past Montello, conveniently on my way home. There is a lake down one branch of the main fork and dead end the other way after a good little climb, so after a couple hours of crawling around in the dirt it's time to go home.
Using copious amounts of afterburner, I jet back to the interstate at Malad, 110 miles from home. Then I set the cruise on 79 and count 7 troopers (in the next 60 miles) looking to nail holiday speeders in the heavy traffic heading back to Utah. Missed me, heh heh. Even more under four hours for the return leg.