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Jay and Monica asked if I wanted to go to the Sea Otter when they were over at Targhee skiing for President's day weekend. It seemed to be too far away for me to even think about, but all I had to do was show up in Boise and they take care of the rest. Well, hmm, if it's cheap I have plenty of time since I don't have a job or anything, having been laid off by MeltTran for the *last* time at the beginning of February.

Loaded up the Y-bike and drove over on a Wednesday evening - hadn't ridden it since Moab, and had to take off the headlight mount (well, I didn't *have* to). We threw my bike in the camper with the kids (Luke and Sabrina) and I got to ride in the front of the pickup (Ford supercab diesel turbo) with the grown-ups. Jay took the first driving shift, and we rumbled off into the night. Apart from the noise, it wasn't all that bad. The turbo, even with a big camper on the back, gives sufficient giddyap. Stopped for some fuel in Winnemucca - with dual tanks we didn't need it quite yet, but there's a whole lot of nothing in Nevada. The Denny's in a casino was closed - I thought they were always open? Back on the road, it's quite late and I nap some more.

Around Donner Pass, Jay got tired and handed over driving duties to me since Monica was ever-so-conveniently asleep in the back seat. Though equalizing the tire pressures later helped the squirmy feel, the key to minmizing sway was slow steering wheel movement. I carefully proceeded down the pass and into California, darkest den of iniquity.

Past Sacramento I was feeling punchy and handed back to Jay after his little nap. Dozed in the front seat as we made our way up a hill in San Jose to Monica's mom's house. Interesting place, and I'll leave it at that.

In the morning we were off the Laguna Seca Recreation area, another 90 miles off to the south in the Monterey region. Kind of cloudy, where is warm sunny California? Oh, LA. Big line to get in the park, and it starts raining - this is more like it.

We all wandered over to the expo area (still Friday morning, and my race isn't until Sunday, so I'm not all that interested in check-in) so Sabrina can pick up her stuff for dual slalom. What a zoo the expo area was, bigger than the NCS race at Deer Valley even.

Just kind of hung out the rest of the day, in the intermittent rain (and not much warmth to be found) watching DS qualifying. What a bunch of freaks those downhillers are (sorry Sabrina). The course was pretty gnarly, doubles and big jumps and berms. Oh, and muddy. Meanwhile there was a pro MTB prologue going on, and the wet, cold road race. Good thing Eddy stayed home. Sabrina ended up taking second in expert women DS despite a couple of spills. At the end of the day we drove around from the parking lot to the campsites on the other end of the track and parked. Camp complete, a little more advanced than tents I suppose.

Saturday was pretty much more hanging out. I slowly rode the Laguna Seca course backwards as the pro women roadies raced frontwards. The "corkscrew" 300-foot drop looked fun, but I wonder how many times I'd like to do that in a race. Not many, when I've only been on a few rides as yet this year and those Cal-ites train year-round. Except Ma-Ne, who came up with some lame excuse about back surgery.

It mostly stopped raining towards the end of the day, so Luke and I thought it might be a good idea to pre-ride the cross-country course. This we then did. It wasn't very technical - except for the sport extra-loop that was 2 1/2 miles of twisty singletrack, but I didn't have to do that tomorrow, just Luke and the sports as experts would do two 16-mile laps, us beginners like clydesdales just one 16-miler. Mudholes might be a problem.

Sure enough. Not a lot more rain, but not a whole lot of drying either the rest of the day. The next morning, at least it wasn't raining. Luke went off at 8:30, I was later, at 10. Large field, probably the biggest MTB field I have seen yet. There were supposed to be limits on the fields, but I think these were ignored. The theoretical maximum number of clydesdales was 50, but as race time approached there were more than 50 of us gathered under that particular banner. I was way early but still got squeezed into the second row, behind last year's winner who had someone hold his bike while he warmed up elsewhere. Was this a good sign? When he showed up, he looked kind of skinny and too fit. Compared to me and my 220+ winter weight.

Then he botched the start. All the other big guys sprinted ahead of me on the race track and got to the jeep trail. I picked off a few as it turned into more or less a mountain bike trail across a meadow/hillside. Then an unassuming mudhole sucked my front wheel in up to the hub, and I did my best surprised Superman impression. Lots of people went by, but no major damage to bike or body. Nothing to do but get back on and ride.

That's what I did for the rest of the race, not bombing down the rollers but I did catch a few on the long climb back to the track. Then the part we didn't get to ride yesterday slowed me down, with a steep climb across the track and up part of the corkscrew and over the middle hill, through a large mud bog (I went around, but still slowly) and onto the track below the corkscrew exit. I was cranking along here, trying to keep flying mud out of my eyes, and got to the somewhat-vague finish line ahead of a couple more people in who-knows-what class.

Wait for results, get cleaned up. When results are finally posted, I'm 14th out of 74 at about 14 minutes back. Not too bad for very little training, I suppose. Must have been the spin classes. Ride over to the downhill course, and Sabrina has won the expert women race. Way to go, girl. Another bunch of freaks, of course.

Back to San Jose, stay there that night, head for Boise late the next morning. Which means (how did I get to drive Donner Pass again?) arriving in Boise too late to comfortably make it back to IF that night. I make use of the hideabed for the first time, but certainly not the last.

And back to IF the next day, in time for the noon ride and packing for the *next* trip, departing the following day. Destination: Beer-Bike. ------ Final results at the Sea Otter site have me as 18th out of 98 clydesdales, so they really blew the field limit there, eh?