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Monday, December 01, 2008

"Be the ball Danny..." Race Report #8

Ah, Golden Gate Park. The crown jewel of the BASP series (my personal favs are still some of the old Surf City courses, but that's another post). It's got great flow and on this day, nearly perfect conditions. Sunny but cool with a nice tacky surface thanks to some mid-week rain. I didn't feel great during warmup, but I never feel great so I try not to let it bother me. I somehow managed to not pay attention and got myself boxed in at the startline. After the whistle, I pushed my way up though the pack into decent position as we hit the bottle neck right hander some 300 meters in. This is where the foot deep loam enters the picture. The proverbial 'crux' as it were.... Pure CHAOS. I mean really, come on fellas. A sage old crosser once told me. "Always hit the crappy lines in warm-up. Any idiot can ride a good line." I took a 'crappy' line (all the 'good' lines were taken), passed about 5 riders in as many meters, nearly sideswiped some poor soul going ass-over-teakettle, then got tangled w/ my own teammate, Jesus, who for some reason thought he could fit between me and the course tape rubbing against my arm. I watched in slow motion as his pedal slipped under my chain and gingerly threw it off. CRAP!!!! quick shift....Pedal. Oh crap. Not working....ABORT. Plan B! Get off, relax and put the chain back on. I remount and look up to see the back of the bus some 75 meters up the trail. Brilliant! From 10th to last in less the 50 seconds. It's at this moment I remembered Jaybird and a race nearly 20 years ago. *Flashback*. It's the late 80's. Jaybird and I are racing MTB full on. It's all we do and we are boring as hell to be around as a result.But the Jaybird is FAST. Wicked FAST. I quietly hate him for it and often think of suffocating him as he sleeps in what tries to pass for a bed in those crap motels we stay in. Unfortunately, he's funny, a fellow geek/nerd traveler and best friend so I'm obliged to let him live and beat me yet again. It's the heyday of mountain biking and the fields are large, even for a local race like this. On this particular day, I'm recovering from the flu so the Chowderhead and I are just working support. Jay is holding the winning ticket but the hole shot is critical. Some 86 experts are on the line. 50 meters after the start is a left turn up a hill. Another 100 meters up then a right turn into the single track...and we're talking Michigan single track. It's top 5 or certain death. Jay jumps hard at the gun. Chowderhead and I are 50 meters up the hill and we see Jaybird charge it, bumpin' and bangin' in 2nd or 3rd position when WHAM! he's down...and hard. I'm still not sure what happened. He jumps up and looks O.K, but his brakes are fubar'd and his bars are twisted. By the time he sorts himself out, the last of the 85 enter the woods. He's sailoring up a storm and is this close (o.k. squeeze your thumb and index finger together tight) to throwing it in. At that very instant, the Chowderhead and I share a horrific thought. We've got a 4 hour bitch fest of a drive home if he doesn't get back on the bike! We WonderTwin it and shout in stereo. "GET ON THE F#CKING BIKE!" To our amazement it works. Jaybird scowls at us, jumps on and takes off. Now if I recall, The race was prolly 1:30-1:45 long. Laps were maybe 15 minutes. The course was a clover leaf so we could keep tabs on Jaybird from a central locale. About 5 minutes after the start, the riders came out of the wood and up a mid-ring climb about 200-300 meters long. By the time we see Jaybird shoot into the clearing, there's a lot of laundry already strung out on it, seated but pushing hard. Jaybird however is outta the saddle, in the MEAT, and just drilling it. His face all fury and rage as if Fortuna herself had descended upon him back there at the start and he was determined to shrug her off. He passes 20 riders! The Chowderhead and I are convulsing w/ laughter. The next lap is a near fascimile, less a few riders a bit more strung on the line. As each lap passes, Jaybird catches riders on that climb. When the storm clears, General Sherman...er...Jaybird has layed waste to nearly everything in his path and sits 4th (maybe 5th). *end flashback*. So it was with this image that I set out on my quest. Now, I don't have that kind of anger in me, and neither does Jaybird anymore thank heavens, so I was pleased to pull back just 11 of the 29 that lay ahead plus a handfull of 35 A's. I felt as good on the bike as I've felt all season. I'm almost as pleased about my placing as I am about that through some unbelievable chance, there's even a photo of the gaffe!

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