Invited to race. Something very special about getting invited (it implies being welcome). Four times this year I’ve been so blessed. Some day let me tell you about the times I was forbidden to race.
Alas, I couldn’t take up every generous promoter’s offer , due to distance. I’m sure it’s for the best, since I don’t train except by racing, and once-a-year singlespeeding doesn’t do it. I missed:
1. The weeklong “Trans Sylvania Epic” or
2.) “Wrath of the Boneyard” in New York, or
even 3) “24 hours of The Enchanted Forest” (a benefit for chronic fatigue sufferers).
But Santa Rosa’s Annadel park is right up the road, so when Bike Monkey magazine editor Yuri Hauswald extended an invitation to race the “legend” category, I lept. And told all the Retrovians (people who used to get my ‘glob’–the reverse of a blog; it comes to their email doorstep rather than they coming to me) in case we could get a real reunion going.
And of course, I gave some thought to my attire.
Back in fat tire prehistory,Lynn Woznicki named, promoted, and produced the bumpy stampede through Annadel State Park . It was a fund raiser for the American Lung Association. Everyone was balled up in a single pack: Eric Heiden, Joe Murray, Tom Ritchey, and my future husband….out of 500 others, I was sure no one would be able to tell the gender of the pigtailed rider finishing with the best, so Colleen Hillis helped me paint my back with “Cunningham” and I finished wearing my birthday jersey.
Now that off-road bicycling’s mainstream, I wouldn’t do that (family audience!) But I could do wild: jaguar-print “Rumpstomper tights” sewn by Jan Shaw (she and hubby Bob were huge movers and shakers then; the bench in Buick Meadow is named for him). Up top, I thought…BikeMonkey…monkeywrench, yeah, I’ll wear a rare jersey from Nate Woodman of Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s got a minimum of verbiage and a maximum of design elegance. The problem is that June 26th promised to be a scorching day, and the monkeywrench cycles jersey is short of sleeve.
I added white cashmere armor, er, arm-warmers. Thick. Keeps the sun out, and the sweat in. Somehow I have convinced myself that I can endure wearing wool in high summer.
Andy Bolig and me were precisely on time for the crazed 19 mph “neutral” start, parading 3 miles through Santa Rosa.
I started slow, and tapered (usual tactic). But when the trails thinned out, I found my pace and managed to overtake a few guys when they bobbled., My specialty is trail reading, making me hard to pass on extremely twisty, rocky terrain. I like to have a clear view in front of me, so I can set up my line. Woe to the stronger rider stuck behind me.
Hey, we’re contesting 312th place–do I need to slow down? Racing means never having to say your sorry…Yeah, I was a jerk. TJ from Mikes bikes? I owe ya at least a beer: you kept me sharply focused when I might have relaxed on the lyrical Lawndale descent.
I saw a father son duo (Mike and Calvin Hersey) riding seamlessly through the trees, dodged an ‘enthusiasm biff” (crashing for joy), and and I got to finally meet a racer I’d unwittingly been the measuring stick for since the early days: Chris Barrett of Tahoe… we compared notes, and he for the first time ever, beat me (until a day later when he figured out that he’d taken the medium-length, 24 miler, where I’d done (I think!) the 27 miler.
Ecstatic, and pretty much bonking as I crossed the finish line (American meaning, not Brit), I staggered around cutting into lines for beer and burritos, swapping cups of water for permission to flagrantly cut.
Next year, if I have the ability to organize it, I’ll get a twelve-year old to tow a few water jugs and paper cups around–to hydrate the very patient, and equally ecstatic racers.
I know of only one broken bone, and even he waited to go home to deal with it….