Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Mud Madness at Marilla
(The above photos courtesy of JR Petsko)
It happened, despite my best attempts to sabotage it, ignore it, or rationalize my way out of it. My cross bike was in pieces and dysfunctional on the garage floor as it had been for the better part of the month. I had successfully completed a rigorous 8 week anti-training regemin. My lungs were reduced to two glad sandwich bags. I looked to be about 5 month's pregnant. My legs looked as they had been turned and smoothed on the lathe too long, now mere spindles. I had assured everyone I met that I wasn't going to do it. Yet, there I was before the crack of dawn, fixing brake arms that wouldn't spring back, changing tires and casettes. Cleaning and lubing and aligning. I rode the old Colnago up and down the hill beside the house, testing it in pajama bottoms and a mussed up coiffe. I convinced the kids that they wanted to do it. And then I did it. I "raced" The Race of the Dead at Marilla Park in Morgantown WV. I mean, I guess I had to- after all, The Grimpeurs were sponsoring the race. The people had to have their king, didn't they? Call it a bad case of "Mud Madness."
It was raining and the course was seriously sloppy and super slick. These were conditions on which I had never ridden a cross bike before. The learning curve was steep. On the second downhill off camber hill my bike left me. I hurdled the handle bars like Edwin Moses and scampered for a first down but kept my feet. When I retrieved the blue Colnago cross the right shifter was twisted. Maybe I had found my out! No such luck; she shifted like a dream. I came to the screaming downhill approach to the hill of death, sure I would meet my doom there. It was like riding across a field of Crisco. Using the brakes was like hitting the button on the ejector seat. My only hope was to unclip and hold on. My legs spread out like the balance pole of a tight rope walker. The bike bucked and slid every which way. My ample abdomen pushed hard against the red polka dot jersey barely restraining it. My red cape with white leopard trim whipped in the wind and my quidditch goggles rendered me blind. What a sight it must have been to behold, pure poetry.
Despite my cyclic ineptitude, I made it to the hill of death on two wheels. I didn't even try to ride that throbbing wall of muck. It was so bad that they carved earthen steps up the side so we could, perhaps, finish the race. I plodded up the steps and stopped at the top to acknowlege my adoring subjects. "Candy for all!" I yelled and tossed handfuls of manna from my jersey pockets. If you are going to make a fool of yourself, might as well do it up right.
I wrecked a couple more times on the first lap and took the first of several wrong turns and back tracks. Even so, I was still not in last place- but, I could hear the grit grinding in the chains of the rear guard. By the time I hit the new race feature this year, a mini spiral of death, I had gotten my mud legs. Going round and round was like trying to claw to the center of a hot buttered merry-go-round. It was sketchy and slow but I made it through without sliding out or running, although for a short time I was essentially spinning a stationary bike.
On the second lap we were locked in a heated battle for last place. That all changed when a rouge family sauntered across the course in joyous oblivion. I yelled "look out" and swerved around them. Suddenly I was alone. It wasn't until later that I realized that I had cut back to part of the course we had already done. Nothing like an extra half lap for stupidity. Ah well, last place was inevitable eventually anyway. It was what I had anti-trained so hard for. I gotta say, though, the absolutely heinous course conditions really made it an adventure. Great course and great time. Thanks guys.
Below you will find video footage of the best race of the day. At least from my point of view. If any other pics or vids come across the web, I'll post them here. Note: I didn't pick the music; it picked me. I don't feel like fixing it.