What my feet deserve...

Is a day off and a good massage. I was on them or abusing them in some sort or another way too much this weekend. Riding shoes aren't made for walking. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

I spent this weekend driving to races and either patrolling or racing (if you call what I did "racing"). I'll tell ya, Experts are a class unto themselves. It still amazes me to think I used to be able to at least keep them on the same lap, but I'll be there again. I just need to spend some time on my bikes, which I'm working on.


Anyway, Saturday was the Crowderfest "tour". Any ride/tour/fun event that has a local pro show up becomes a race... Cameron Chambers came to race. He turned in a pretty impressive time at 4:26 for 100k (roughly 62.9 miles for my non-cyclist, American readers). I was patrolling the race, so I couldn't give him a run for his money... yeah, that's it. Since it was one big loop, I didn't get to participate much, but I did man the patrol tent all day and had fun almost catching a nap a few times.

On the way back - we caught sight of an only in Missouri scene. On the side of I-35 - and remember, this is a major interstate highway - we saw a broke down car with a tractor pulled up beside it to help out. I kid you not... Where else can you see that? Well, maybe Kansas, but still... And people wonder why the midwest is called "fly-over country". Maybe because AAA sends a tractor to help when your car breaks down!

Saturday was a slow day of preparation for Sunday's race in Neosho, Missouri. I drove down early and got there with plenty of time for a pre-ride... Well, I would have had time, but I broke my chain at what ended up being about the 60% point of the course. I got back 20 minutes before my race started. If you're not familiar with bike riding shoes, they're made to walk about as much as ski boots are made to tango in. My hike-a-bike for 40 minutes, plus my lack of overall fitness kept me toward the back of the pack.

As I lost touch with the back of the field, I started to crack. Then I realized my Camelbak was getting awfully light. I normally ride with 3 liters of water, and only had 2 with me for this race because it was only an hour and a half. No biggie, except I took a broken-chain-induced detour an hour earlier so now I was running low on water.

At that point, I knew I was out for a third lap. I wouldn't have enough water unless I stopped and picked up a screw-top water bottle. You know how they can be a pain to open while you're driving a car? Imagine having 1" of rubber on the ground with rocks and roots and whatnot and trying to open one and take a drink while keeping that 1" strip of rubber somewhat attached to the ground and avoiding as many of those rocks and roots as possible. It wasn't going to happen, so I did what any self-respecting expert racer (data based on a poll of one self-proclaimed expert racer) and decided to finish last in style (say it like Gallagher). I stopped to talk with the course marshal and have a beer with him while time ran out on the clock.

There was a "maze" of sorts on the course. It was a really tight, technical series of flat switchbacks between trees. Successful navigation generally involved leaning on several trees on your way through. It was faster to run than it was to ride as several racers proved while I was spectating. Without a marshal would have been cut. It was a good spot to watch the traffic go by. I know... because while I was sitting there, I got lapped by most of the field. Some of those guys were flying.

While I was visiting with the marshal, I found out his mother lives in El Paso and he spent a far amount of time living there while he was growing up! He goes back once a year to visit. We were swapping stories about places we've ridden there. He's done the Transmountain to Anthony Gap, as well as the Alamogordo to Cloudcloft climb. Small world indeed.

On my drive down and back on Sunday, I had confirmed my belief that with the exception of little pockets of cosmopolitan life in Missouri (aka St. Louis and Kansas City), it is a backwoods state. On the side of Highway 71 - not as bad as I-35, but still a major north/south highway in Missouri - someone had one of those monster trucks parked in the side yard of their house. I'm serious... Big ol' 3' tires and all. But wait, it gets better. One of the wheels was off and the thing was on concrete blocks! So not only do they have a monster truck in their yard, but they've got a monster in their yard on blocks!

Anyway, that's my weekend in a nutshell. This evening, I got up close and personal with trees and some dirt. First time I've had any major abrubt stops on a bike in months and I caught two tonight at Smithville. Nothing's broke, but let's just say I'm not expecting full mobility of the right arm for awhile... You know it had the potential to be a pretty bad wreck when one of your first reactions is to count your teeth with your tongue to make sure they're all still there. Man, it feels good to be mountain biking again! :)