Thursday, May 19, 2016

Part II: Head Over Heels In Harleywood

The pre-ride of the Harleywood course goes fairly well.  We only get to run 1/2 of the eight mile track, and somehow I have a feeling the toughest stuff will remain hidden until Sunday.  The course is a little muddy, but nothing like Blue Ridge two weeks ago.  My practice ends on a slightly sour note with a pinch flat on the rear, but the plan was to change the tube with the rear tire anyways.  I cut the course and make my way out of the woods.  Slowly.

Temps hover about 38 degrees overnight with a stiff breeze.  The generator powers an electric heater until the gas runs out, then I pull my head under the covers and wait for morning.

These cold mornings always make it difficult in deciding what to wear under the armor.  Long-sleeve thermal compression or short-sleeve compression shirt?  Better to be a little bit warm than cold, especially when it comes to arthritic shoulders and much abused back.  Thermal it is.

The race starts in an uphill grassy field.  Bike lights first kick, but the e-start guys are still quicker.  3rd into turn 1.  The field ends and it's into the woods.  Second place.  Then first.  Here we go.  My arch-nemesis Juan is right behind me.  As in he can count the loose rivets on my silencer behind me.

Ten minutes in we start catching slower riders from earlier waves, in the worst possible sections.  I come upon a rider from the 30+ class stuck on a mound of dirt in a tight single track spot with closely placed 2-3 inch diameter trees.  Small enough to bend, big enough to yank you off the bike as they rebound.  Impatient, I make my own way.  And pay the price.  The front wheel drops off the mound, directly into a deep hole hidden from the other side.  Suddenly and violently up becomes down and down up, landing in the hole, with my bike directly on top of my legs.  The shoulder takes a hell of a blow, but at least the AC joint holds, as does the collarbone.  Silently thanking my orthopedic surgeon for the good work a few years ago, I try to wriggle free.

Juan shouts, asking if I am OK.  I tell him to go by, he says he can't, there is no room.  That doesn't stop the next chucklehead in our class from trying it, ending up in the same hole and flipping his bike on top of me.  There is now a KDX200 on my legs and a KX250 crushing my upper body.  Flailing and cursing in the futile attempt to untangle myself from this Green Meanie mayhem, I catch a glimpse of Juan finding an alternate path.  Into the lead.

This is not starting out well.

Not sure what's up with my funky body language or the one foot off the pegs? 

Hey guys, wait up!

That's more like it.

Do these numbers make my ass look fat?

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