MT Cross Champs

Hello from a frosty Missoula Montana where it is only about 13 degrees outside. Butte Montana is below zero at this hour and my luck seems to be getting frosty as well. It all started when I received a paycheck that had been docked a few hundred dollars to penalize me for losing the company money (not my fault, just a fall guy). Then everything started to snow ball; tail lights in car breaking, STI levers on bike breaking, Undercarriage on car damaged, new wheels busted, cycling coat zipper break, cycling booties breaking, and a 3 hour walk home last night after hitting a pot hole on my cross bike.

Whew, is that enough bad news or what? Well let me begin with Sunday as I traveled to the State Championships in Kalispell. Let me take you through the last 48 hours. Then Ill sum it all up with some thoughts. In the meantime enjoy the pictures to the right of the Mens A Race.

I knew the day was beginning wrong when I stopped for fuel at Muraults Travel Plaza just off I90 on the road to Kalispell. I am standing there waiting for the fuel nozzle to click off when I got distracted for only a moment only to be brought back into focus with this weird sound. It was fuel spilling all over my car and down the street. By the time I stopped it I had spilled about 3 gallons of fuel. It was all over me and my car. I waited for it to evaporate off the ground and tried to clean up my car.

After an exhausting trip through some of the worst construction on the planet I arrived at th venue. The champs were being held at an equestrian training field. An excellent place for a cyclocross race. I quickly discovered the damage the the fuel spill had taken on my car. The fuel had done something to the plastic parts and the mini tail lights cracked and broke. The right side mini light was hanging by its wires off the side of my car. To hold it back in I used black tape and to this time it remains tapped. It stands in a long line of other parts needing to be replaced on that German engineered (VW Sucks!) piece of crap. More like the darn thing was made by Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart Sucks!) !

Ok, time to settle down and tell you about the great day that was unfolding before me. The sun was out and it was nearing 65 degrees. After a couple warm up laps I had to strip down to my race kit because I was roasting. It looked like it was going to be a truly nice day.

The course was great and resembled a cross country course more than a cyclocross course. It had 5 sections and the rest was spread out at around 2.5 to 3 miles long. It was real long for a cyclocross course.

The first section was the run up. It occurred right at the start only 3/4 miles from the gun. It was a short but steep run up that was made even more tricky by the barrier at the bottom and before that a corner … a high speed corner. This was a 15 MPH dismount at the very least. Very fast!

The second section was the double barriers around 1 mile into the course. These again were right after a bridge and slight corner. Not too tricky but once again at a reasonable amount of speed. These barriers really stirred things up for the Mens A race.

The third section occurred right after the barriers and was a short sand section. This was not a factor at all because the crossers being a smart bunch soon learned that if you carried your speed right straight across you could hook up on solid ground to the far side and ride around the sand pit.

The fourth section was 1.5 miles later near the end of the course and was potentially another run up. Instead if you had the right gearing you could ride right up the incline but not at a very fast speed. I saw a A rider run up it faster that I rode it.

The last section was in the woods about 3/4 mile from the finish. This was a triple barrier set and run up combination. This nice little section began with a small down hill to a corner dismount. Then the barriers were scattered along a slight incline for about 25 yards. I found it best to shoulder the bike.

At the beginning of the race I noticed that the Masters catagory would be one of the largest fields of the day. There were 4 or 5 Flathead Cycling riders and I instantly knew there would be team tactics involved. This would be a hard race but I decided to keep my wheel glued to a wheel of a man that I knew would be headed to the podium. As we took off I settled in second place behind the leading rider who I fugured I would be battleing for first place with. He missed the next corner and took me with him. Suddenly I found myself in a sea of gasping master riders looking for a position at the front. We approached the first run up and I almost got ran over by everyone as we trounced up the climb. I topped out in real bad position. I took as many back as I could and settled into 6th position.

As we approached half way around the first lap I saw one competator trying to fix a mechanical. I was now in 5th and I tried my best ot catch others but it all seemed impossable as they were way out front. There were 4 Flatehead Cycling racers in front of me. They seemed to know the course well and was working together to disntance themselves from the rest of us.

I was finally able to overtake two of the riders in front of me but not before the third place rider crashed right in front of me.

I figured I was going down but was able to thread my way between him and his bicycle. This all took the pace down and that was just enough for a chasing rider to pass me and put me back into 4th place. I had a chance for third and blew it.

I did my best to catch the first three the rest of the race but ran out of time and ended up in 4th place even after a pretty decent effort. I was beaten pretty bad.

Disappointed I stuck around to take pictures of the mens A race and see if they were going 4 deep in awards. Suddenly the weather turned sour. It got cold in fact I believe the temperature dropped as much as 20 degrees. I grabbed my camera and went out to watch the mens A race. It was mostly fun but the old winds and driving rain had me dashing to my car to put on all th clothes that I had brought with me.

After the end of the mens A race I stuck around like I said in hopes of fourth place recognition. I did not get it as they only went three deep with awards and medals but all was not lost. Someone made fresh soda bread and banana bread. I grabbed a couple pieces and realized that I had brought nothing to recover with. I had to make a dash for home so I could get something to eat. I was broke and out of cash.

The drive home was very slow as pretty much of the entire trip I was in a construction zone going 35 miles an hour. We were even stopped for an hour while the other lanes could use our lane. At one point I was following everyone else when the detour went off road and across a field. I got high centered and heard a loud banging. I had damaged the undercarriage of my car and could just hear pieces rattling around. I was so upset and almost fed up w
ith the whole Montana Experience.

So that was Sunday and one would think that all is well given that I had so much bad luck breaking things. well! It does not end there. After getting yelled at all day at work I decided what I needed was a long ride on my cross bike. As I was leaving my apartment I noticed that my STI levers were broke and I was pre-bummed for the ride. Could things get any worse for two days.

Just as I was nearing the other side of town a full 4 miles away from the apartment I hit a pot hole. instantly my tire deflates and I stop. I feared the worst as my new wheels are new and how could I do this to a new set of wheels for the second time (last time I ruined a brand new set of Rolffs in Pattee Canyon). I tried to air up a new tube using my cartridges but it just discharges into the extremely cold night air. By now it was a frigid 15 degrees out. My rims are areo and are deeper than normal so the valve stem was not long enough on my replacement tube. I screamed some profanities and started to walk home.

After a little while I figured that I could walk better without my booties. When I tried to remove them the zipper broke. Now I was mad. Then to make things worse I went to take my jacke t off to stuff the rear pocket with my booties and the zipper in the jacket busted. I couldn’t zip up.

So there you go the rest of the night I walked home and fell asleep on my apartemnt floor. I am finally thawing out and recovering from yet another Bill Martin adventure.

Tonight I think i am safe to just go do laundry but you never know. It is haloween after all!

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