Monday, 12 March
It was a weird weekend. It started at Mason Lake on Saturday, where it never really stopped raining. I was the official for the cat 4 women's race, and 100 meters after we turned onto the course, 3 of them crashed. Three-quarters of the way around the course, about 10 more piled into each other and crashed all over the road. After arranging "transport" for those whose bikes or bodies wouldn't go any farther, we passed about 20 women riding in onesies and twosies before we finally caught what was left of the race: 11 riders (37 started). Higgie was in the lead car and gave a post-race coaching clinic. I hope he was able to calm what must have been some pretty taut nerves.
There was nowhere near as much excitement (of any kind) in my own race. I wanted to race with the masters, but there weren't enough of them. And then I decided I wouldn't race at all because it was pouring and the road had a winter's worth of sand plus some new gravel in spots and I still had visions of bodies and bikes going every which way. But I knew that I would be my own biggest critic for a week if I didn't at least start, so I did. The riding wasn't so bad, and on the first 3 laps you could convince yourself it wasn't raining when you were on the backside of the course because there was a tailwind and no spray off the chipseal. But the main road was like being in a gritty shower. The field did not offer much hope for excitement: 5 Byrne (including last week's winner), 4 TiCycles, a sprinter from Portland, and a climber from Spokane. I now know who cannot sustain an attack for more than 100 meters and whose body language gives at least 5 seconds of notice before her attack starts. Of course, the right combo of last week's winner plus a Ti rider finally got away. The only thing left to do was marvel at the gap between the pro-1-2 break and pack (they passed us exactly one lap apart). Oh yeah, and it absolutely POURED for the whole last lap.
On to Sunday, after losing an hour's sleep on Saturday night. Old As Dirt and I led a ride with Frankie Andreu for the Cascade Bicycle Club. Early start: I rode to the ride while O.A.D. drove to pick up Frankie at his hotel. 25 die-hard fans turned out to ride with him, and he did not disappoint. He chatted with everybody, leaving O.A.D. to play gate-keeper and flat-fixer and me to ride on the front all day to make sure everybody went the right way. I learned from these Cascade riders that I (1) did not give the mandatory preride safety lecture (I obviously failed to do that on Saturday, too) and (2) ride a really smooth, constant pace (which tells you more about Cascade rides than about me). Brunch was fine, then it was off to the Bike Expo (the reason Frankie was here) to see sponsors, mechanic, coaching staff, framebuilders, race organizers, etc. When we picked Frankie up to go to dinner, the bag he set in the back seat next to me had a very subtle imprint on the top that said "U.S. Olympic Team 1988." Nice. I wonder how many airline employees see that. And good to know that we're not giving flimsy schwag to our Olympic athletes--this piece has been in use for 18 years.
Biggest ego boost of the weekend? Frankie recognized O.A.D. immediately because he was wearing his team StokedHat and Frankie had seen pictures of my donated auction item at the MVA auction on Saturday night. Well, that and Frankie accusing me of almost dropping him on Rainier Avenue.....