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Twice the fun?

Or maybe four times the fun, I should say. And all within an hour's drive of Boise. Which, unfortunately, is four hours from my house under normal conditions. When the Snake floods and closes I-15 and one has to detour through Shelley and Blackfoot on a two-lane highway, it's more like 4:45.

All this fun started at the Snake River Omnium over in Nampa, on Chicken Dinner Road. Here was the Nash Lane Hill Climb Time Trial, advertised as 1.5 miles of flat and 2.2 miles of 500' rise. Sounds like a good time to me. My team was supposed to show up in force to beat up on the local George's guys, but I was the only one in evidence. Oh well.

At the time trial start I demonstrated that I do not know how to fasten a quick-release, but at least by this time I know what it feels like to pop out a wheel. It wasn't particularly loose, and I was only in about a 39x16 too, but sometimes that chrome on the dropouts is pretty slippery. So I lost about 15 seconds there 10 yards from the start putting the wheel back in tight. Then I had some adrenalin and rage going, which was good for the flats but not so helpful when I arrived at the hill mostly blown.

My 30-second-behind-me man, who was one of the guy from Boise at the Utah district crit, passed me just before the hill started. Then I caught my 30-second man on the way up the hill. I would have felt better if he had not been telling everyone who would listen (including those of us who were not all that interested) that he was returning to riding after precisely 50 weeks of inactivity, blah blah accident blah blah. I hurt up the hill, my contact dove down into the corner of my eye, I finished, and then it popped out as I was trying to maneuver it back in place using the side mirror of a convenient pickup truck. Well, I was maneuvering with my fingers and using the truck mirror for vision, of course. Only after a bystander came over to help (immediately guessing that I was looking for a dropped contact, I might add) and I changed my viwing angle did the little bugger surface, unharmed. I gave it a squirt of water and popped it back in, then coasted back down the hill.

There was major time to kill before the downtown Nampa crit, so I went back to Boise and cruised through the airshow static displays. Then there was more time, so I tracked down an old version of Excel to put on Ronda's palmtop since it still had Win3.1 on it. She promised results would be more timely on the web page this way, without having to retype them.

Then I bopped out to Nampa again for the crit. Nice and sunny and warm, but with very threatening thunderheads to the north. Luckily they stayed there. This crit was another squared-off figure-eight, without the little hill of the Lewiston figure-eight. Instead there was just a bit of a slope on the short side, meaning a short downhill slope before the finish straight. Again brick crosswalks were featured, with a warning of someone's Spinergys breaking on a particular rough spot last year.

The field for this portion of the Omnium was about the same, 15 or so 4s. We started, and the pace was pretty steady. Not really high, but some people did get dropped - we lapped a couple guys twice. There was an unfriendly wind on the long back straight that didn't help any, and for whatever reason I didn't feel that I could advance my position at will, as I usually do in flat crits. I was hanging on the back mostly, trying to stay ahead of the next guy about to get dropped.

That's where I stayed mostly at the end, not moving up in the last couple of turns before the finish straight so I was sprinting for about 7th place. Tactically foolish, silly boy. Well, that was over.

Next up was the women's race, which had such a small field that it was pretty boring to watch. Anna had said she would be there to support her former teammates, but an inspection lap on foot failed to turn her up.

So back to Boise, where it turned out that the nasty dark clouds were hovering over Bogus Basin as Ron was trying to get the course set up for the Bogus Bomber on Sunday. There was also a bit of darkness in Boise's north end, where Anna claimed she thought it was raining in Nampa too, and besides she was installing a redwood patio. It was a very nice patio, but a rather flimsy excuse, it seemed to me.

A couple of blocks away, at Ron's house where I was staying, Ron soon arrived home from up at Bogus, shivering. It apparently rained much of the day up there and was quite chilly. Too bad I was in sunny Nampa. Eventually all the last-minute preparations were complete and we could all go to sleep, for the downhill started quite early in the morning. Or it was scheduled to, anyway.

Up the Bogus Basin road in the morning, and I was mostly alone. Which is much more fun, even though my car was a bit heavy from both bikes in the back (net purchase price exceeding that of the car, by the way) and accessories. Yet it was still quite flingable, and fling it up the twisties I did. Whee!

It was still a bit chilly up at Bogus. Waiting for the sun to warm things up a bit, I busied myself getting my downhill number, then going back for my t-shirt, then going back for twist-ties for the number. Despite the invigorating drive, I was not quite awake. It was warming up a little as I got the Y-bike out of the car and carefully shuffled Eddy to the bottom of the pile. I decided not to wait for a potentially dangerous ride in a pickup truck this time, and rode up to the top of the downhill myself. Though it was nearing the scheduled start time, Ron was still driving one of the shuttles up and down. I took a pre-ride. The one-mile course was entirely cat tracks, still wet from the rain but not terribly slippery. There were a few sharp turns and some rutted sections, but overall it seemed quite the easiest technically of the downhills this year (that I have done, of course). Fear and cornering skill would be the main determinants of victory.

At the bottom, I ran into Super Dave who was dismayed to find no day-of entry for the downhill, notwithstanding his non-received faxed entry, and so was cooling his heels for the cross-country. Also, Rich was there with his wife (sporting her new Y-bike). I rode with Rich and Pam to the top of the downhill again, and Rich took another pre-ride after telling me horror stories about the new trail in the cross-country. I remained at the top, and tried to stay away from mosquitos.

At more or less the appointed time Ron showed up and began to start people down the course. There was a large peanut gallery at a good view of the first several turns, and as the first guys went down there were oohs and ahhs as if at a pyrotechnic display for some near-wipeouts.

My turn, and I was as usual fairly cautious. About the same as my pre-ride. No endos this time, either. I was safely across the finish line, barely, when Rich arrived. As expected, he won, and I got 4th or something (out of 4).

Then it was time to wait for the cross-country to start. Eat a little something, hang out with Rich and Pam and Casey. Try not to think about the new singletrack sections at the beginning. Watch the experts (3 laps) and sports (2 laps) start. Only one little 8-mile lap for me.

We finally start, and Rich takes off. I follow, planning to just stay close through the singletrack and try to drop him on a climb or something. He's actually going pretty hard as we blast across the parking lot and drop down into the Pickle Pond region. Then the new singletrack starts, and it is a bit slippery and a lot steep. I spend a lot of time dabbing and hopping, avoiding people falling in front of me and trying not to slow the people behind me. Rich almost immediately takes a flyer over the bars, but there are many "soft" bushes to catch him, and he's cursing in frustration but not pain as I go by. After all this twisty singletrack down past the Pickle Ponds, there is a long doubletrack back up. I am soon pushing my bike with everybody else, except for a lone sport woman who insists on riding barely faster than we are walking.

More climbing, some descending, yet more climbing, and more descending and climbing. This being a ski resort, the climbs are kind of steep. Not so steep as Jackson Hole, say, but I still spend a fair amount of time pushing my bike up hills. I am not alone among the beginner ranks in this, but there are probably experts riding all of it.

The reward for all the bike pushing is the downhill course to the finish, and I am still ahead of Rich. He pulls in after a few minutes, saying he fell again (twice) in the new part, having psyched himself out with all that talk about it beforehand.

Now we wait for awards yet again, hanging out with Super Dave and Rich and Pam and Casey. Rich and Pam kindly let us mooch off their mini-grill. A few beers are consumed.

At length the awards are presented. I win, for my efforts and first place, a pair of bar ends.That's funny, I already have some. Along with every other racer there. Hmmph.

Oh well, there's still the fun twisty drive down the hill to Boise, marred this time by some slower traffic. Nothing I can't get around on the few straights, though one Suburban with smoking brakes gives me pause. A refreshing shower at Ron's house and then I throw my tent in the car and cruise home through Arco, avoiding the I-15 detour.