We ended up staying awake later than planned Friday night, because we were waiting on others that were coming in much later than they planned... and since there is no cellphone or internet coverage there, we stayed up way too late. Doing the only thing there is to do. Drink. For me, twice as much as planned. So much for plans and goals.
Woke up bleary-eyed hearing one of the women folk saying, "Look outside! It's so beautiful."
Fuck. It snowed.
photo cred: Joel WatsonReluctantly placing my bike next to the keg (bottle refill station) for the lemans start.
Our race starts. It's maybe 33.5° outside. I half-assedly jog to my bike and head out in the melee.
I've recently been spending a certain amount of money and time trying to make my back better. I've also been lecturing The Pie about pushing her body too hard with an injury and how it just sets her back in her recovery from a hip issue. I decide to listen to my own lectures (for a change).
photo cred: Kate FulbrightWhat time I did spend out there looking around was visually stunning.
I decide to bail, but only after I hit the final descent down the Turkey Chute, so I could get a little preview of the conditions of the night downhill course. I went down the Turkey Chute, through the parking lot, down the stairs and to the keg. Pour out my race beverage, replace it with Dale's, hang out at the timing tent. The first to bail after one lap but not the last. I watch the race for awhile, hang with the people that bail after their second lap, and watch Nick "Dip & Spray" Barlow come in for the single speed win.
photo cred: Kürdt RamptonBack to the cabin, suit up for the downhill race, and head down to catch the first shuttle.
I HAD A PLAN.
Most of the descent was a hot mess. I decided that the safest/smartest thing to do would be:
One run, sorta slow to look at the lines.
A second run at a higher rate of speed to confirm my choices.
The mandatory (Eric makes you do it) practice run after dark to be sure your lights work.
One race run, all out.
Anything else was not worth the risk. It was slick as snot and just not worth the added exposure.
But I was just feeling so good...
I came off my second run and the shuttle was waiting at the bottom. How could I not get on? I felt like I railed the last run and really wanted to just keep going... so I did.
On the way up, I looked down at my tires. Caked-over. Bagels. Donuts. No tread to be seen. A smarter man woulda realized that the super sticky mud at the bottom of the run was not clearing out of my tires. A smarter man would clean his tires over at the bike wash station before an all-out run. I am not a smart man.
I went down full-tilt boogie style. I was feeling good... until I pushed the tires pretty hard in a corner and started to slide sideways. And then I was in the air.
I came down hard on my back and tumbled. Couldn't breath. Looked back up the trail and saw the loaf of bread sized rock I came down on. I pulled myself and the bike off the trail and sat there. I waited for the tightness to go away, felt around for bad things sticking out, determined that I just fucked myself real good, and slowly got myself to the bottom.
Hosed off my bike and walked it back up to the cabin. Game over. I've been here before. Blunt force trauma that leads to swelling of the intercostal spaces (the muscles between the ribs). This time though, the affected area wraps around from back to front on my left side. Brilliant.
Back at the cabin, grunt, groan, wince, struggle to take off clothes, take shower, get dressed... at least I'll only be doing this for two to four weeks.
Grab a bunch of beer and head down to watch everyone else have fun. Dip & Spray was kind enough to escort me the rest of the evening, dragging me up hills and controlling my descents. My hero.
Another Icycle that didn't go quite the way I planned it in my head. Still such an amazing event. People standing around in the woods, at night, snow and mud, fireworks, stumbling drunks on a muddy hillside.
"I'm all tire and no truck."
Always such a surreal experience. I mean, Neko Mulally won the expert race... yeah, that Neko Mulally that killed it with a chainless run at the DH World Championships last year. The uniqueness and history of this event with just a "so-so course" still becomes the thing of legends and fairy tales almost every year. I may not always come back with the hardware (it's been years), but I always come back with plenty of stories... and various injuries.
There weren't any ditch fights though. We'll have to work on that next year.
photo cred: Paul Cunningham