May. Day.

Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Bike, Races | No Comments

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Dark, omninous, swirling clouds plagued the skyline to the west. The rolling foothills of cedar and sage were shrouded in the gloom. A light rain started to thump against the window of the car. Westbound. Into the storm. The drops of spring rain grew louder. And then, softer, as they froze into snow. The absurd dichotomy was obvious. Devestating. Snow. On May the first.

“There is no way I am racing my bike in this.”

I passed through Cedar Fort. A small Pony Express town teetering on the edge of life and death. The small houses, surrounded by pastures and livestock pens endured the wind and the snow in defiant silence. A few residents were out tying down tarps and canvas coverings over stacks of alfalfa hay.  The only gas station in town was crowded—relatively—3 monster trucks with National Rifle Association decals on the cabin windows were parked in the lot. Their drivers sipping terrible and local coffee inside, watching the climatic turmoil unfold.

“There is no way I am racing my bike in this”.

It became my redundant, repeated, self-motivational mantra.

“No. Way.”

I turned south, speeding on toward 5-mile pass. On the horizon I could see the gap of the passage in the hills. And beyond that, clear, bright, nearly blue skies. The parking lot was filling with people and vehicles. But where there ought to have been muck and mud and running water, was only dry, fine dust. The storm, so violent and dark—had missed the race course. I blinked in disbelief. The storm still raged on, nearly within walking distance. The Wasatch Front was invisible behind the black wall of rain and snow and hail. Indeed, the spinning darkness surrounded us all on sides. The eye of the storm.

“Perhaps I’ll be racing after all.”

I forked over my entry fee and made it official.

And then, we were off. No, they were off. I sputtered and stalled and flailed at the line. Turning the pedals in what must have been sticky, gooey mud. I looked at the ground below me. Drizabone. “&*#$.” I knew immediatley the sort of day that was ahead of me. And at the longest race of the series no less. I was wishing the rains had washed away the dirt and the dust—and the race. The gang of White Tags faded into the horizon, speeding over the contouring, rocky jeep road. I huffed and puffed furiously. But seemed not to cover any ground. I flashbacked to another, eerily similar day. Smoked Grizzly. Roasted bear. And who, I wonder, filled my tires with lead?

“Mayday. Mayday”.

In fact, it was May Day. (Workers of the world unite! And other such nonsense). I limped across the finish line 33 miles later, in the gloom. Wet, dusty, beleaguered. Exhausted. My shoulder hurt. Crashed. My legs felt dull and heavy. Useless. The entire universe it seemed, had already finished the race. People everywhere milling about, cold beers in hand. Talking, bragging, storytelling. I grimaced.

“I should not have raced my bike today.”

But then, when have I ever truly regretted a bike race? A cursory flip through the annals of farce and farcical reveal no such occasion. I was starting to feel better about the ordeal, piecing together the potential positive reinforcements I’d use to explain away my leaky gas tank, when the inflationary bubble was suddenly popped, right then and there beyond the empty and dusty finish-line at 5 Mile Pass.

“Do you need a medic?”

“I look that bad eh?”

“Well. I mean… no. But…”

Mayday. Mayday.

xc mountain bike