My alarm went off at 3:45AM. I kind of whimpered and hugged my wife, who’s 8 months pregnant and I think was awake anyway. I used to get up early all the time, but that was a bit much. I poured some coffee, made breakfast, filled up the water containers and drove, and drove, and drove a little more.
I got my bib, strolled around, said hi to some friends, got changed and headed out on the bike. I didn’t have a lot of time so I found about a quarter to a half mile of the course and did a few laps to wake the legs. I felt pretty good about me as well as my chances for the day. About an hour or so later reality left our televisions where it belongs and came to visit me, and it brought its friends, pain, dropped chain, flat tire, increasingly more slippery roots, and I can’t be sure but I think heat stroke may have done a ride by and kicked me while I was down. Oh, and they took what bike handling skill I had when I wasn’t looking. Sheesh!
Okay, I’m gonna stop you there and say this. I had fun. The trails at the Craftsbury, VT Outdoor Center are challenging, good and fun trails. I saw friends and raced bikes.
The race started with an about 300′ flat approach to an about 50′-60′ super steep wall of a climb, and about 1000′ across a field and into the woods. I was sitting in sixth place about to go into the woods when I watched a stick, about 6″ long and 1/4″ thick come off my front tire and suddenly my chain was off. I said, you’ve gotta be kidding (real word replaced) me. I got it back on and had the pleasure of being in the last position of my group. The trails on the first third of the course were pretty darn tight in places and really twisty as well. Tons of roots. A bunch of rocks. I swear someone was walking the trail with a bucket of motor oil dumping it on everything. And it got more and more greasy as the laps went by. I’ve got to say, people who race these races are awesome. I’ve seen many of them many times and you get to know who people are, or at least where they are in comparison to yourself. I would never force a slower racer out of my way, as that’s a good way to hurt someone, but when I got behind a slower racer they pulled over to let me try to regain position. Awesome! The middle leg involved, as I remember it, not all, but a bit more carriage road and the bulk of the climbing. The last third, most of the trails were fast and flowy. A lot of descending and lots of berms I was riding what is essentially a giant BMX bike, a rigid Redline Monocog, and it is such a ridiculous amount of fun on those trails.
Where I finished doesn’t matter. Okay, of course it does, but the amount of fun I had on the trails is inconsistent with my placing…
I have lay out a cautionary P.S.A. here. Be careful racing in the heat. I ate and drank every lap, anywhere I could, and perhaps it wasn’t the heat. I never felt bad (or worse than usual) while racing, but a little after the race I started to feel like I needed to sit down, but couldn’t stay still. I didn’t feel quite right. About an hour later I was sitting on the back of the van talking to a friend, feeling really lousy. I had to interrupt him and head for the bathroom. I was getting woosy and couldn’t focus on him and keeping it together any longer. It wasn’t pretty ugly so I’ll spare you the details. I took a nap for a few hours and sipped some water and felt a lot better. Again, perhaps it wasn’t the heat, and instead just a coincidence.
I gotta give a big thanks to NEMBA for letting this happen and to the rest of the NEMBA Racing team for having me and being a great bunch of people.
Keep the rubber side down, Joe.