Hello from Bend, WI. I mean Madison, ID. Or maybe I’m in Philadelphia, NM? Last week during the hour-long wait on the runway before my flight from Denver to Boise, I looked out the window into the night and suddenly realized I had no idea where I was or where I was heading. It was a full 15 seconds by the time I figured it out. This isn’t the first time that this has happened. I generally begin having these episodes more and more frequently by this time of year–after five or six months of constant travel throughout the race season. With my sense of place fading and my brain stewing into an unrecognizable pot of confusion, Cascade marks the fast-approaching end of the year.
But first the news. (I realize I used this joke just a week ago but I like it so much that I’ll employ it again). And by news, I mean the Boise Twilight race report. With most teams finally realizing that BC Superweek IS the shit, Boise Twilight had a small turnout this year. No more than 75 riders took to the start line, all vying for the second or third spot on the podium (UHC was there with six guys so second place would be pretty good goal). I crashed into a fallen body and went over the bars within 15 minutes of the start, no doubt caused by some idiot squeezing through a corner where there was no room left to squeeze. The crash and my resulting somersault through the air was topped off by at least two, maybe three, bikes and bodies crashing into my face. I suffered some very minor bumps and cuts, mainly to my forehead. My new Swift Carbon bike seemed to be worse off than me.
Having only mounted the shining steed earlier that afternoon for the first time when Allen got into town, and riding it for about an hour total (including the race), I realized that a bike this new must have been broken beyond repair in the crash. That’s just the way things work. Brand new bike, wheels, helmet, glasses, all with less than an hour of use, were destroyed. Not a doubt in my mind. I was very happily mistaken a few minutes later as the mechanic in the neutral pit looked things over, got my saddle, wheels, and bars straightened out, and sent me on my way.
I took to the front of the race for the next 40 minutes, following moves, attacking, and generally using up valuable energy in many failed pursuits of primes and breakaways. With my saddle almost 2cm too hight (found that one out later) and an entirely new shifting set up (MicroShift), the race was half about dialing in the new gear, half about having fun in the sun, and half about
getting opened up and prepared for cascade scoring a shit ton of free Cliff stuff at the sign in tent!!! Behold, my greatest mooching accomplishment to date:
I’ve calculated that I came away with over 200 resale dollars-worth of product. The guy at sign in kept saying, “Don’t be bashful. I gotta unload all of this stuff,” as we dug deep into the many boxes. In hindsight, I’m not sure he was talking to me. I made two Hunchback of Notre Dame trips to the car and back with Blocks falling out of my jersey.
Anyways, I drifted a bit too far back with three laps to go, didn’t chop for three corners in a row on the second to last lap, and somehow found myself sitting 30th wheel, realizing that I wasn’t going to factor into the finish at all. Coming into the last lap, a separation occurred a few guys in front of me and the gap opened up. The race was up the road and I finished 38th. I didn’t care that much (I did care a little) and was just glad to not crash again. The crowd was great and it was certainly an exciting race. Downtown twilight crits always are.
The next morning Noah and I (Noah is Allen’s 13-year-old son) walked down the street to our free breakfast at the Marriott or Hampton–something fancy-sounding for middle-class people who’re pretending to be rich and too good for Motel 6 or Super 8. I had some bagel pizza things, sugary cereal, and some other sweet, refined flour and grease-soaked “food” while Noah had a waffle and high fructose corny syrup. I mean maple syrup. It was all very delicious.
Whilst leaving the fine establishment, Noah spilled an entire cup of apple juice on one of the guest’s feet. The poor guy was wearing flip flops. Noah apologized but the groggy patron, who’d most likely just woken up 47 seconds ago and stumbled his way downstairs to the breakfast area, barley managed an angry, jaw-clenched, “it’s all right.” It was not, though. Obviously not. Noah and I got the hell out of there before the hounds were released.
(Side story about Noah: he and our host mom, whom he’d just met, went on a walk down by the park Sunday evening while we were out riding and getting groceries. Noah felt the sudden and unavoidable movement of a large bowel and took to the woods as fast as his little legs could carry him. According to our host, he emerged a few minutes later wearing a sheepish grin and carrying a soiled pair of underwear (there were no leaves to use in the pine forest). As he was exiting the woods, a couple and their dog came around the bend. The dog may or may not have found and eaten from the pile left behind. I didn’t hear the full explanation of this part of the story).
Boise to Bend didn’t take too long and we got to our host house in time for a quick spin around the circuit race course, which I’ve now done 489 times. In the last two days. Tonight is the shortened 2.5-mile prologue (the prelude to Cascade, if you will). Unfortunately, the last, and therefor best, 400 meters of the course have been chopped off due to road construction. Making things even more difficult, the course has been closed for preview and pre-riding upon penalty of death because the neighborhood that it’s held in, like most of Bend, hates cyclists. Some of the homeowners complained that a few of the racers were unfriendly and confrontational last year while they checked out the fast, downhill corners of the course the day before the prologue (Those who don’t want to crash might consider this a necessity). But sharing doesn’t seem to happen after third grade. “Can’t we just run over them spandexed faggots without being given the horrid treatment of the middle finger in return?!! What’s the world coming to?! Don’t one of the amendments protect our God-given right to smash those two-wheeled freaks and their vital organs all over the road without being yelled at?!!”
We’ve had half a dozen confrontations with drivers in just the two rides we’ve done here—without breaking a single law other than being in the way and riding two-abreast…both of which aren’t breaking the law of course. Just the typical honking, screaming, and buzzing because we’re there and are slowing down the car behind us for 2.6 seconds. I get honked at, therefor I am.
Bend is being overrun with diesel-fumed rednecks and impatient SUV-driving moms on their way to everywhere and nowhere without a second to spare. Or maybe it’s just us that are overrunning the town. Cyclists need an island all to ourselves (Australia?) where we can be left to ride in peace without ruining everyones’ tight driving schedule of McDonalds–>24-Hour Fitness–>grocery store–>gas station–>McDonalds…all within a half mile of one another.
Although, today has been a relaxing day. Long and mostly uneventful with a short morning ride to open the legs and another one to gather borrowed equipment from Patrick of Full Circle (front tri spoke and skinsuit thank you very much). Days like today, where we race for less time than it takes to deposit a solid poop, seem like a waste–an unnecessary expense of money and time spent away from home. Is it worth devoting an entire day to a four-minute race? Yes, of course. But only if you finish top 10. For the other 190 riders, the race starts tomorrow.