Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Excruciation Exam 1/7/2012



My pal Patrick is all big into mountain bike racing (or as those in the biz refer to it: MTB racing). I was a temporary member of the cool kids club and was invited to a race in Warda, Texas (yeah, it's a place. They have a post office.) 2 weeks ago. The Excruciation Exam. I was supposed to be the Sporting Press and give tweet updates on the progress of Patrick vs. Devin. I was picked up at 5:00am on a Saturday (I know, right?), and we drove through the fog for approximately 7 hours (give or take 5-6 hours) then arrived in some pasture where apparently they often do this sort of thing.

Warning: this is a complete outsider's view of the world of MTB racing. I fall off my bike because I forget to kick my feet out of the clips. Seriously. And I didn't take a lot of pictures, and the ones I took aren't that great. The tweets weren't even clever. Just factual. You should probably stop reading now and save yourself.

No? Okay. Bear with me. The race was delayed because of the fog. I admit I didn't see why this was an issue. I mean, it's one thing if you're driving fast in a car, but a bike? Oh. But you see, these guys (and girls - I'll get to that in a minute) GO REALLY FAST. Like not at all leisurely.



The fog cleared, and everyone lined up. There was a stretch of 200 yards or so that they had to run (in their clippy shoes!! What the heck?!) to their bikes, THEN they could officially take off. The running part (if I would have been racing, I probably would have forfeited right there. Something dramatic like lying down in the middle of the path.) helped space them out, I'm told.



So there were some fast people at the front.... OH GOOD FOR YOU.






And some people who would have been my friends.



We (Derek and I) took their (Patrick, Devin, and some other dudes) bags to Rocky Hill, the next big time checkpoint (some 20ish miles from where they started).




The volunteers have this sort of thing down to a science. They made 57,000 sandwiches in 5 minutes. A guy brought all the bags and coolers and laid them out on big plywood boards (did I mention it was wet and foggy?). We took our crew's bags and kept them to the side. I'm picturing that everyone will arrive at the same time and a bunch of high maintenance guys in spandex would be all, "Where's my Evian water?"



They weren't at all high maintenance. They were actually incredibly chill. This guy wins best gear award. He used a cat carrier. Who does that?!



So then the clouds decided to open up and finally the sun came out!

Good thing. It was pretty gross. Kinda like my lame tweet updates. I blame it on the fact that I had no Press Pass badge. I would have felt a lot cooler (in a Liz Lemon sort of way). I digress.


Here's Devin coming in to Rocky Hill...



And here's Patrick just before his Dublin Dr. Pepper fix. It's true: water and gatorade aren't all that can be poured into a water bottle. Sidenote: Patrick has since bought all remaining Dublin Dr. Peppers left in existence after the evil Dublin DP buyout.



And here's some random 7 year old that was kicking everyone's tail... I keed. He was 16. I met his mom. But still.




So yeah. We helped people with their energy bars and water bottles and what not. And when I say we it was really Derek. I just moved around trying to act busy with a dumb smile on my face as if that would encourage the people in the race. After all the hard work of not riding a bike and not really contributing anything useful other than saying helpful things like "enjoy the sunshine!" to downtrodden riders, I was hungry. Whew - good thing there was a food trailer on site! Check this monstrosity out.

All that for $6. All in a day's work, my friends. There may have been a can of Shiner Bock involved as well.

OMNOMNOM what? Oh yeah, the race. It was 85 miles long. Incredible. Devin beat Patrick by a few minutes, which apparently was all that really mattered in The Grand Scheme of Life. Here are the results. Here is the trail. 2,787 feet gained in elevation?! And they were all laughing it up and talking afterwards like it was nothing. Are you kidding me? Incredible.

After being so motivated, I drug Amy on a little 12.1 mile ride the following day and had a whopping 651 feet gained in elevation and we almost died (Houston, how I miss thee). So quick note on girls. Top 3 guys got a prize, as did the top 3 girls. Even though their times were a good 1.5 - 2 hours behind the guys' time. SO not fair, but such is life. I need to find a race (that's not 85 miles long. I want to win, I don't want to DIE) where there are very few girls competing (like no more than 3). Bucket list that one.

Go boys.

The end.

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