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The one and only, long-awaited with bated breath I'm sure.

So, there was this fresh mountain bike course...

Half up, half down, like I said. But anyway, first I will narrate last Wednesday's ride with the boys from the Crossroads shop team.

Super Dave and buddy Jim were supposed to show, but Super Dave bailed because his mother came to visit him. Jim made a brief appearance before blowing a tire and retiring. Other riders included the three goonyers from the actual team: Tom, almost as large as me; Alan, little guy; and Jason, tall, skinny guy (even skinnier than Garrick!!!) as well as Gary the off-road racer, Glen (or whatever his name was; he was wearing a Motorola jersey and riding a Klein so I thought of him as Phil Anderson), Pete who looked like a fred but was really pretty strong, an actual fred, and Luke White, my old buddy.

We all started off from the shop, headed generally out of town, and the goonyers (who seemed to be somewhat in charge) decided we would ride to Kelly Canyon, a little over 20 miles, climb the hill to the ski lifts, then ride back. Fine. After a while they started an actual rotating paceline. I was momentarily stunned, but recovered quickly after being instructed on the proper rotating-paceline technique, to begin silently grumbling about the unsteadiness of everyone else - Jason, the skinny boy, in particular was surging like a madman. I was, of course, solid as a rock. Or so it seemed.

Along we went on our merry way, arriving at the bottom of the climb to find the road up freshly tarred-and-graveled. Much grumbling followed (not that _I_ was particularly looking forward to that climb) but we turned around, and, picking up the several shredded riders on the way back to Ririe, headed for IF.

Meanwhile a nasty-looking thunderstorm had been brewing off to the west, and I decided to bail and head directly for home instead of my car in town. But not before being chastised by Phil Anderson for not slowing down enough in the rotating paceline for little skinny Jason when we were going back into the wind. Jason doesn't seem to be as strong as the other two goonyers. Needs some meat on his bones.

I also caught goonyer Tom swearing at me for either assuming or not assuming my place in the paceline. Probably just a testosterone attack.

On to Saturday. I picked up Jim at eight (Super Dave claimed he was sick), and we saw Jason and Kim on the way out of town - they were going to stop in Arco for pancakes, which Jim strongly recommended against. Jim and I arrived in Mackay a little after 9:30, and went to the park near the finish to find a good spot under a tree. We parked next to Jim's old buddy Bob (and wife) from Boise. They talked our ears off for a bit, then we were off to pick up t-shirts and numbers.

At the registration table we ran into Kim and Jason (who Kim had indeed coerced into riding with her), as well as Patty-n-Luke and Julie, my comp geek class buds. And goonyer Tom, as we were riding back to the car; asked him if he was still pissed at me from Wednesday and he kind of just shrugged. Definite testosterone attack on Wednesday.

Rode the last part of the course (that I missed Sunday) with Jim and Luke - it went through pastures, almost as bumpy as Ashton and with the added joy of fresh cowpies. Warmed up a bit with Bob and Jim on the other side of the valley, then went back for the pre-race meeting.

Ron, the promoter, informed us that attendance was almost sure to set a new record, something over 450 riders. Winning time is expected to be around 1:15'. Also we have to walk (run) across a bridge near the finish (not the far more dangerous trestle) for liability reasons. Much groaning.

Noon, and it's pretty durn warm. Finally the Experts, including Bob, start. Field looks like about 20. Us Sports are next, after three minutes; field of maybe 40 or 50. Everybody else must be Beginners or just-out-for-the-ride Touring.

The first half mile or so (start is on Mackay's Main Street) is paved, and I, having cleverly staged in the front row, get out front enough so that nobody takes me down going over the two narrow bridges. In fact, Tom is leading everybody out to the bottom of the hill, so I sit in about five guys back until they sit up at the bottom of the hill. I go by Tom, and mash up the first steep part of the climb. I may have actually been in the lead here. Then better climbers start going by, about ten or so before I somehow manage to maintain my position. I was expecting Tom to go by here, but he didn't. Guess he blew up in the sprint from the start even more than I did, and at this point I was definitely feeling that I had shot my wad way too early. But I keep climbing, and take back a few spots. By the time the course turns onto the mine railroad right-of-way, I have passed two Expert women. At the trestle, some guy and I pass an Expert who says that we are about the fifth/sixth to pass him. I hurt up the rest of the climb, catching a few more people and getting passed by a couple.

At last the top arrives, and almost immediately guys start zipping by on the downhill, traveling far closer to the edge of control than I wish to. This continues until the next small rise, where I pass a couple again. Downhill again, and it's not quite so dangerous. Or I am getting a little pissed at everybody passing me, or I am slowly gaining downhill skill. For whatever reason, very few people pass me for the rest of the race.

Crossing the pastures leading up to the finish, one last guy tries to increase his placing at my expense. I grunt a bit and drop him, and finish in 1:30'05". Woo hoo. Turns out the last guy to attempt to pass me was none other than skinny-boy Jason - he must think I have something against him, but he says "good push at the finish, dude." I hose myself and my bike off, and wait 20 minutes for Jim to show up. Bob's wife, who was spectating up on the hill, says he was hurting, and she had to give him a shove so he didn't stop and talk to her. Jim says he doesn't feel so good, and is slightly bummed about not making his goal of 1:40. What can you do.

We hand in our numbers and get a free beer in return, then hit the BBQ. Which for me is more like a potato-salad-corn-and-bread festival, as I only manage a couple pieces of meat. We sit around for a while on Jim's Wal-Mart mini lawn chairs, guzzle fluids, get rained on a bit (sure - _now_ it clouds up) and eventually get sick of listening to the fat one-man band butcher as many musical styles as possible. Kim and Jason show up at three hours elapsed time. Sucks to be Jason. After several hours, the results are posted. I note my time, placing (10th out of around 25 in age/category) and think better of one more buffet trip before heading for the car.

The drive back is as uneventful as the drive over was, and after I drop Jim off I go home and go to sleep, then eat all day Sunday.