Tactile Durango SSWC 09

Photo by Timothy Herby Belrose as seen on SSWC09 site

Dear Charlie,

I survived the race, and all my wishes came true:

I got to ‘feel’ the landscape around this amazing town, a neat twelve or so miles of it. Pin-oak forested escarpments, rocky ridgelines, sagebrush roads, and dizzying views of all the icky development that has been allowed in a town with no urban boundaries.  The whole place is being carved up and built on but dammit I want to write a glowing post.

No injury, sunburn, or blisters

The bike (Phink Poenix) worked beautifully.

Kept cool during the two thousand churning legs sequence and finally spotted Scotsman Jon Meredith about two minutes after the start (youtube video here). My total time with the guy who inspired this new phase in my cycling career: 45 seconds. He pulled away (payback for Napa!) and I never sore him agin.

And then, of course the unanticipated joys of a brilliant event:

Making friends with Tarik Saleh, a young father/bikefreak who caught some great shots of the start, documenting the several versions of Dorothy of Oz, and Santa Claus, Godzilla, etc…

Not hearing a single “Outta my way!” or “Track!” (that might have been happening up ahead of me).

Being serenaded by a chorus of male voices about two switchbacks below me, maybe more…singing some SONG!

All the gleeful jabber of  hundreds of riders marching, staggering, riding and trudging  up that hike-a-bike section, with its soft brown loam and thoughtfully chinked in footholds.

(I was in the Trudge Division, along with  Curtis Inglis. We yakked awhile,  he said how fun it was for him to be the guest of the event, not the  exhausted host….he’s part of the continuum of  artist-producers that have woven such a durable story fabric  that we seem to refer to as “bike culture” (that’s on everyone’s tongue, the CULTURE…watch out for that one getting commodified….). This is what sharply distinguishes ‘our’ races from ‘their’ races. Event promoters catering to riders are cherished. Those catering to sponsors (look up “Ed Zink”) are not.

Remembering that I am allowed to stretch out and just listen to it all, mid race, just a few feet off the trail, while my nausea abates.  This, and a bout of quasi-asthma (I don’t HAVE asthma thank goddess) made me decide to quit as soon as we dropped back close to town, no matter how ‘strong’ I felt after the downhill.

Enjoying a quick three beers proffered at the putative pinnacle of our procession (not true: there was at least a quarter mile more ‘up’ but that’s OK.)

Bumping into Karen Brooks (Dirt Rag), er that is, being passed by her on the rugged rocky ridge section.

Being passed by Joe Murray at about the half-hour mark, as he picked off 970 other riders (having begun at the back).
I crooned “Reunited and it feels so good” but he was in race mode and only the guys behind me got the joke.

Minor technical difficulty: little silver thing that opens and shuts on the seat post, the one that Scot-from-Salida liked so much & commented on the previous day….bounced off the bike, thereby dropping the saddle suddenly.  “Hm, something just happened” I thought tiredly.

I throw the bike…er, gently laid the bike down, out of the way of the stream of riders pushing their bikes…

“You OK? ”  a few people inquire.

“Just looking for the seatpost quick release lever I lost”.
Good luck!”

And damn if Scott didn’t show up just then brandishing it

“My A.D.D.  really paid off…and you owe me a WHOLE beer now!” I’d knocked his full brew half-empty yesterday in an overenthusiastic greeting  yesterday.


So I continued my flowing on and off the bike, no bashing, no bouncing, all that cyclocross experience from 1986 paying off…with the saddle twisting underneath me four inches too low….(you may ask why I didn’t just FIX the damn thing….well, a tiny other piece got lost, too. The Thingamajig that holds the QR on. Or that is what I thought. WHen I returned home to california, CC pointed out that  I had lost nothing, just put something on backwards during that ride in Flagstaff a day before Durango’s race, and it was this Unique Ineptitude that caused the QR to loosen….


A tally of some of the lost things claimed  by that jostling, ragged ridge:

fur-covered fairy wings

sequined tiara

a cell phone

feathers from a boa

woolen dingleberries

the  rest of the boa

a toy gun holster

purple furry sunglasses (almost picked them up)

gold lame cloth (did pick that one up, and jammed it in my polkadot tights, which are loose after twenty years of ceremonial wear & tear….it came out when I mooned the guys in town)

and countless waterbottles–the crap kind that leach plasticizers into the drink.  I drained a couple of them (so much easier than unscrewing the cap on my Vastly Superior liter and a half  PET plastic bottle…yeah, so I poisoned myself with plastic, what else is new?)

And not least of all, my will to finish the entire race!

Ah, I nearly caught Damo but he flew down the dangerous descent (which re-ignited my ambition), but no. I picked my way carefully down, and then burrowed under the crowd tape to get to the finishline party, and skip the gruelling 12 more miles over in Horse Gulch. Besides, I’ve ridden it (ten years ago!)

Found Earl from Ross and his wife, first people I encountered from Marin.
Told every single person who was cheering for me “I am quitting halfway, I didn’t finish the entire thing“…

Found Ned who’d taken fourth in that less-than fetching blue floral frock he put on…he’s so lean that only fitted dresses would flatter his figure, I think.  Something tailored, two-piece.  He looked happier than ever, and relieved to be done.

Didn’t want to be seen (or obscene) with me when I showed off the other way I was going to wear my ‘merkin curtain’, but he was too late–the pictures of me and him and the full moon of Phelan are all over the web now…heh.
Damo finished much much later (giving me a clue how long it’d have taken me)–too late for beer but not for water, thank heaven. I circulated and met Matt Shriver, the cycling coach at the college (and 2nd place finisher–first was a guy named Ross Schnell, cool eh?) Jim Deaton, beaming, beatific.  Heather Irmiger, the swift maiden who took first among the women. Whew, she flew.

Adi, Mora and I zipped down into town too fast for our condition.  But no cars swerved, so we were fine.
Hit the big party at Ska brewery in full swing, Tracy’s artwork upstairs in the gallery along with all the race entry forms gaily festooning every wall.  Clearly this is the best-yet….with all the riders artists.

When my friend congratulated me on my third place finish I assured him he was wrong. After all, at the finish (which I carefully avoided) I had told all the ‘real’ finishers that they’d done well to beat me, that I ‘d only done half, etc….He showed me my ‘result’ on the web phone.
“Somewhere, there is going to be a rather unhappy third place woman…except that in singlespeed the only prizes are to top woman , top man. Not second, or tenth or hundred and twenty- ninth…

Still, I cringe.

And went home to bed, glowing.

Here’s the interview I did earlier in the year.

JP interviewed

~ by jacquiephelan on September 20, 2009.

One Response to “Tactile Durango SSWC 09”

  1. Is that a metric or a standard adjustable?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: