4:30am, Jefe starting barking. At nothing. Mebbe ice balls. Dunno, but it’s enuf to get me up 30 minutes ahead of my alarm. I’ve slept like shit, dreaming panic dreams about ice and preparation. Normal. And driving to the race. Not normal.
6 inches of snow fell yesterday. Beautiful.
Last night it got warmer and all that snow was coated with a rime of ice. The drive to Pennsylvania was gonna be tricky for a transplanted Californian. Hopefully the NJ graft would take and I’d be able to pull this off.
While I’d put a small bike rack on the Saab, which has chains and is lighter and was made by Swedish people, the call of the minivan was strong. Room to change. Room for all the crap that has to roll with me to the races. Minivan it is!
After smashing and sweeping the snowy ice from the car, loading the billion small bags and two giant bikes onto the lumpy grey beast of burden, I gingerly tip-toed my way out of our skating rink/parking lot and hit the road.
Slowly. 50 mph is embarrassing, especially in a Honda Odyssey. But I was resolute. Every reflection was, to my sleep-deprived eyes, deadly ice. And sometimes I was right, but mostly not.
After having been passed by every west-bound car on I-78, I finally got onto the even more white-knuckl-y rural route that led to Camp Olympic, where, befitting that, um, Olympian name, our contest was to be, um, contested. Limestone CX at the Kiln. The last stop on the pain-train that is the MAC Series.
It was essentially Fargo. With the woodchipper.
There were no tracks. Lots of tape, but NO ONE had pre-ridden. When I finally got myself sorted out, 30 minutes before the first race, I realized why. Out there in the wild, I was making almost no progress at all. With every pedal revolution, the tops of my shoes dug into the snow like my dog after barf in a leaf pile.
Retreat to the minivan, fingers crossed that the 4/5s would be able to burn a usable line into the tundra.
Our race was a cold, slow-motion fist-fight. Lines appeared and disappeared in the snow. Running was a constant. I spent a LOT of time spranging around the top-tube of my bike like a salmon humping a broom. In today’s deep snow, I found another thing I’m not very good at. Oh, joy.
And yet I finished 12th. Apparently no one behind me was very good at, um, anything, either.
I’d love to regale you with interesting technical bits about tires, pressure, etc., but there really wasn’t much to it. I ran the Fangos on the B-bike at whatever pressure was left after filling them to 30 psi last night. I’d put a 34 tooth chainring on it, anticipating riding the hills. Needn’t have worried, as we ALL had to run ’em, but it did help to have some headroom, gear-wise when the going got, and stayed, slow. I had taken a spin on my A bike, shod in PDX’s, but beyond the gearing being too steep at 38t, didn’t notice a whit of difference in that snowy morass. So basically I just got lucky. It’s nice to have one-and-a-half working bikes!
After our very short race (30 minutes!), I sat in the car for a bit, changing slowly, feeling the embrocation finally start to kick in, calling Anna to let her know I hadn’t crashed in any meaningful fashion and doing my Virgo best to keep the mini-van tidy.
(The Saab would have been like The Vanishing.)
I then drank Pinot de Charentes out of a hip flask with Scott Sugent,
watched Julie Lockhart rise from the dead to claim another national championship or something,
saw Dan Larino DESTROY everyone in the Masters 30+ (but Roger Aspholm) with his display of leggery-thuggery,
was, with Scott’s help, marginally effective at pitting for Sean Pasieka as he clawed his way to 6th in the B’s and took 2nd overall in the MAC Cup, despite half a lap on a tire doing an impression of chorizo, heckled Brian Carbone as he tried to get his pedal to work (and still got 5th!),
heckled Lauren, The Plumber, Dagostino,
stood around like a goof,
And went home, where nice things, that I in no way merited, happened to me.
I have begun to eat as if I’m going into hibernation, but I still want to race. Hmm.