After two weeks of work at the new job in Boise, and two trips back to IF on weekends, it was somewhat of a relief to simply drive to a race. Things were complicated by Monica's illness, so instead of riding along in the camper with the whole family I expected to drive my car with just Luke. But when I got to the house on Friday, there was another individual loaded up, in Jay's red truck. It was Chris, another junior racer on Luke's team. And it was warm. The red truck without air conditioning. The red truck that gets about 14 mpg. Anyway, we got gassed up and on the road in the bouncy red truck. With the seat that didn't slide back because of the speaker boxes behind it. Ok, I will now stop complaining about the red truck.
Four and a half hours later, we arrived at the Peqop ranch. It was of course dark. We set up camp (consisting of unloading the bikes, Chris pitching his tent and Luke and I unrolling sleeping bags in the back of the truck) and went off to sleep.
And awoke in the morning refreshed as usual. Looked like another clear, sunny day. Which would be fine except for the lack of previous exposure to such weather on training rides (the "why is it cold in Boise?" whine). Oh well.
Eventually we registered, and then of course generally fiddled around until race time. Quite a bit of time to kill since it was running on Nevada (Pacific) time, despite being east of Boise. Talked to some people, but the only other clydesdale seemed to be Darrel from Pocatello. He said he had been road riding, to emulate me. Wuh-oh. Poky is about the same elevation as IF, close to 5000', while Boise is down at 2000' - and this race was near 6000' base, climbing to over 7000'. So much for my training advantage.
The start was was new this year, instead of a mile up the ranch driveway, we head out across a grass field to some brand-new (still bearing mower markings) singletrack, which apart from an intial loose-sandy short climb was similar to the other singletrack winding through the sagebrush and small cacti. I prerode this part until the singletrack coming from the driveway appeared, then took that back to the ranch.
Start time. I didn't sprint all-out across the grass, but everybody else must have done that and then gotten tired, because I was in front when the singletrack appeared. Everybody (the vet sports and Darrel) stacked up on the sand and I was away. Not for too long, but there were only about three guys really hot to get around me when it opened up to the doubletrack.
I caught them back again as they petered out on the very small rollers, then they passed me again as we made the turn to the first gentle slopes of the climbing. I was still catching slower sports, so I didn't think I was doing too bad for as hot as it was. Then Darrel came huffing and puffing by. He didn't sound too good, and I made a note not to suffer from heat exhaustion. Winding up through the trees, I soon lost sight of him and then skinny juniors started blowing by. Did I mention it was really hot? Especially on a slow climb. Well, maybe he would pop a blood vessel or something.
Amusingly, despite the hot day, the upper expert-only loop was still closed because of snow, but the extra 1000' vertical missing didn't seem to upset the experts too much as they only had to ride the same 21 mile course as the sports. Indeed, I came upon young Luke after a few miles pushing his bike up a hill because the little junior expert was tired. I was getting a little tired too, and a very very hot. Yet I persevered, albeit rather slowly.
The first tunnel under the freeway had loose pea gravel at one end and smelly mud at the other, darker end, so that was fun. On the other side were a couple of long gradual climbs that I had absolutely no energy for, and Carol Forester passed me back as I ran out of gas coming back to the freeway. But wait, there's more. Traveling down the fire road next to the freeway (bounded on one side by a barbed-wire fence), a long loose descent apparently caused my rear rim to exceed the piping ambient temperature by enough to melt a small hole in the tube. I have the rim strips that don't cover all of the rim inside, just over the spoke nipples.
But at least I got to rest for a bit as I swapped tubes. Luke went by, the other stragglers went by. My pump wasn't working very well. A kid with a broken chain pushed his bike past me. I was out of water now, a full 90oz camelbak. Pump still barely working, I decided the tire finally had enough air to get me the last five miles if I was careful.
It was a squishy, squirelly ride, I kept looking at the tire, and stopped to feel it a few times, but it seemed to be holding ok. Finally I got to the finish, after 2 hours and 40 minutes. Darrel had of course finished long before, and was wondering what had happened to me. Luckily, I was able to blame the flat for my lateness. That and the three beers and two shots the previous afternoon - I had to, it was a team-building activity known as beer croquet.
Parked the bike and cleaned up as best I could. Walked back from the camping area to awards, where I got a nice second place medal even. Hey, no crash, I'm pretty satisfied. Then my help was needed for the first dual slalom of the season. I even got to announce again, and boy was the crowd thrilled. Mostly I ran the radio and let someone else enter times on the computer. On a trip back to the truck to get warmer clothes as the sun sank, I noticed my rear tire was flat again. Hmm. Well, I wasn't too motivated to ride anywhere at the time, so I let it be.
Chris decided he wanted to do the downhill in the morning, and it seemed he might be able to talk Luke into that as well, so we decided to stay another night. Except we were about out of food, so we took Ron into town (Wells, 30 miles) for dinner. After dinner, we ran into Keith on the way out of the cafe, and he gave us a key to his motel room for some much appreciated showers. Then back to camp and to sleep.
Not too much to do in the morning, except it turns out my help was needed again for the downhill. Well, I was there and not doing anything else, so why not. More radio work, another very hot day. But eventually that was over, and we took off after awards as it was too hot to help Ron tear down.
Instead, we drove home in the non-airconditioned truck. Oh, there I go again. Well, the best part about that was that it was over after four and a half hours. Whew.
Official results at the Wild Rockies website