Friday, April 15, 2011

Charles Takes 3rd At Woodward.

First, apologies for the delay, but I seem to have contracted some sort of alien virus. Whatever I caught is so vile there is no possible way it came from this planet. I still don't have a voice, but I am feeling a little more functional today, so I finally got this cranked out.

Attached is a YouTube link with one of my practice runs from the morning before the race. I tried to record my first race run but apparently I set the camera to "photo" instead of "video" when I was in the start gate. All I got was a series of snapshots every 10 seconds.

So this weekend turned out to be quite an adventure. Instead of the usual race report I decided that faithful followers of the blog should be privy to some of the adventures from this weekend.

With about twenty miles to go on highway 58, ominous clouds started to appear on the horizon. Closing in on Tehachapi, and Woodward, snow started to fall all around me. The road became icy, and I thought to myself that this couldn’t be a good sign for the race this weekend, which is normally dry and dusty. Just a mile away from my hotel, the snow became so thick that I started to suffer from a bit of vertigo. My view turned into something reminiscent of Star Wars – wherein the Millennium Falcon jumps to hyperspace with brilliant beams of light and stars whooshing past. Of course, I was nowhere near hyperspace. I think I was closer to 12mph and trying desperately to see the lines on the road while listening to my GPS unit scream that it could no longer find a signal.

By sheer luck, or act of God, I arrived at my hotel near the top of the Woodward race course. After locating my waiting friends through the fog and snow, I stumbled into my room, clutching a tall can of Sapporo that I had picked up before rolling into town. The seal on the can lasted about twenty seconds upon entering the room, which, to say the least, was an adventure in itself. Two bunk beds were against the wall, each holding a twin size rubber mattress. Sheets were not included. A brief inspection of the bathroom delivered equally grim news – soap was also not included. The toilet seat appeared to have been submerged in water for days on end; the protective coating of paint on the seat was bubbling up in places, exposing the particle board underneath. Fortunately, I had planned ahead for such an adventure, and brought my winter sleeping bag. The bathroom situation, however, is something I would have to figure out in due time.

Day one of practice was a bit of a scramble. I had made my tire selection ahead of time, and based on previous year’s races, I spent over an hour turning one of my Kenda Excavators into a semi-slick. This was no longer a viable option for muddy, snow covered race course. I frantically threw on the spare that I brought. The course was different from years past- the start took riders around the back of the hotel, over the crest of a hill, and into a semi-blind double-jump, about 8-10ft in length, which forced riders to immediately land in a berm at high speed. This first jump alone seemed responsible for taking out about half the field in practice. Two out of my four practice runs on Saturday, I reached the lip of the jump at full speed only to hear “RIDER DOWN!” Of course, once I was in the air, it was impossible to avoid the unlucky rider laying at the bottom of the jump. I have no idea how either of those two riders lived to tell the tale. I am sure all they saw was a large “Tomac” logo flying towards their face. As a side note, I would like to remind any course marshals who might be reading this that part of their duty is to alert persons on course to a fallen rider or hazard. This alert should be given with sufficient time to AVOID a collision. Alerting me to the presence of a fallen rider while I am midflight at 25mph does NOT count as sufficient warning time.

The entire course was relatively short, and for the sake of dwindling attentions spans, I’ll let my onboard camera explain the race course for me. The footage is from my first practice run on Sunday morning. It was freezing, but the course had dried out squite a bit compared to the previous day. I had to very consistent runs on race day, pulling a 1:04 on both runs. My combined time was good enough to land me in 3rd place overall!


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