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Hey, only a week late. It's so hard readjusting to the normal world after three weeks of vacation.

Got my Y bike back when I got back to town on Tuesday, with a new Judy cartridge but a shattered Avocet 45. Oh well. Saturday I headed up to Mackay with Super Dave. We had his car crammed with stuff to stay over and camp after the race, and hopefully ride with Brooke the next day. It was nice and warm already when we got there, a couple hours before the traditional noon start.

We were to meet up with Jim Fraser, who is currently working in Salmon. And meet up we did, after parking in the campground near the finish we rode the three blocks over to main street to register/check in. Jim and I swapped bikes to ride over, and while he was standing there holding bikes as Dave and I were in line, the front tire on my bike blew. Pow. He got a new tube, and was pumping by the time we got out of line. Hmm. The tube had a slow leak, and I had just pumped it up after taking the bike off Dave's car to ride over.

Back to the cars, we got our shoes and stuff adjusted, then warmed up with a ride up the first mile of the course and took a right where it crosses on the way down to ride the finish area. Everything was pretty dry except the stream crossing. Starting to get really toasty out now.

Now we're waiting to start. Ron says there are over 560 riders, but he was hoping for over 600. Oh well. The various waves of riders in front of me start taking off. I've been back from sea level for four days, so I'm not expecting too much. I feel my front tire; Jim must not have put enough air in that new tube. I jack it up a bit with my little pump, but no time to get to my floor pump with a gauge.

Off we go. I sit on some big guy's wheel until the pavement ends - the only time I really get to draft, woo hoo. Then I drop him, attempting to maintain a maintainable pace up the hill. Passing a lot of slower people who started in front of us. And surprise, I'm not feeling all that great. Feeling a little slow. Midway up the hill, in a section of bumpy new trail, I stop to examine the cause of a noise. It looks suspiciously like a spoke wrapped around my cogs, but strangely enough it's not any of my spokes. They all seem to be present in their assigned locations. Oh well, back to the grind, pass the people who passed me while I was stopped playing with my bike, and I'm feeling a little better as I get further up the hill.

Time passes. Eventually I get to the top, and start cruising downhill on my nice cushy dual suspension bike. There are a couple really sandy sections. Not good. I come to the first creek crossing, and hammer through it. A little too enthusiastically, for a hundred feet later I get a SSS-Sss-sss from the front wheel. Yes, indeedy, time to practice my flat-fixing skills on the trail once more. Again hundreds of people fly by in the five minutes it takes to get going again, one of them the eventual winner of my class.

But soon I am bopping down the mountain again, being careful as usual not to kill myself. This slows me down somewhat compared to most people who go flying by. Coming down to the more open section of the downhill, I see Super Dave stopped by what looks like a guy with a really dirty face and bandages around his neck. Faceplant. Ouch.

I finish the race without further incident in the light traffic remaining. My time is 1:45', quite a bit off the previous years' 1:30 even with the five minutes of flat-fixing. Well, that's what three weeks of low-altitude partying will do for you.

Super Dave coasts in. Literally; it seems that his Cannondale found a way to eat its rear derailleur, tearing it off at the mounting pivot without even the help of a protruding stick or rock. This happened right before he came upon the faceplant victim, so he had a good excuse to stop and use his ski-patrol first aid skills. The victim had a compound fracture of the mandible, lost a couple teeth, and lots of blood on his face from scalp wounds. He was briefly unconscious before Dave got there, but then was up and walking around. Dave and a pre-med settled him down and waited for the EMTs, who called in the chopper parked at the base of the hill.

With the race over, it was time to chow down on the barbeque. Which we did. I spotted Brooke wearing an official Atlanta 1996 volunteer hat. So I asked her where she got it, thinking there were only two such hats in the state (one was in my room at home, the other belongs to Lisa King, and Peter lost his in Atlanta). It turns out her mom worked in the Olympic Village, and had come up to watch little Brooke race, along with several dozen other family members. Not wanting to disappoint them, she just had to win, didn't she?

Waiting for awards, I gave out my Atlanta-was-fun-and-hot story to all my mountain-bike-race friends who hadn't already heard it. I managed to hold on to second place, for which I received some Specialized gloves. Which I actually like better than the ugly orange windbreaker that the winner got, so there.

But since Dave busted up his bike, there was no camping with Brooke for us, and we had to go home and take cold showers. It was still really hot, you see.