Monday, February 1

Icycle XC Race 2016

Maybe I mentioned it.  Maybe I didn't.  I headed to the Icycle XC and Night DH with only three goals:

* Finish both events
* Come home uninjured
* Stay alive

So the plan to get off on the right foot meant leaving town at 3:00PM.  I knew that if I had to drive out of Charlotte in rush hour traffic, I would want a beer (or three) if I had to navigate my way through a sea of humanity.  I managed to convince Nick "Dip 'N Spray" Barlow to meet me at my vehicle at the predetermined point of our exodus in a timely manner, and our journey was mostly unfettered by unpleasant people-on-people interactions.

I wanted to go straight to the cabin, cook up some Ramen noodles, and inflate my air mattress...  prepare for a semi-early bedtime (early for Friday night at a typical Icycle).  On our way into Fontana Village around 7:15PM, we were passing the registration, and Nick suggested we stop and get it over with.  I agreed to his brilliance.

Normally, registration is manned by one or two lonesome individuals.  Not tonight.  It looked liked a neighborhood bar.  We walked in, I heard "these two guys," much laughter, and two beers were placed on the counter in front of us.  We registered, talked to the happy shining faces, drank our beer, and another one was quickly presented to us.

"Are we doing this?" I asked Nick.

"Might as well."

And so it began.

Beer, beer, and more beer.  And when it looked as if the beer were gone, more beer appeared.  Shenanigans ensued.

Eventually registration closed... at 10:00?  People hung around for a bit longer, and then we went up to the cabin where everyone else on the team had already arrived hours ago.  Doh.  More bad decisions and we're up until 1:00AM or so... without remembering the whole "eating and making good decisions" thing.

Get up the next day starved, eat Pop Tarts, drink coffee, wait a couple hours, eat last night's forgotten supper, start getting ready for the three lap/21 mile Expert/SS XC race.  I don't usually put much thought into riding that far locally.  Couple bottles, maybe one of them filled with Carbo Rocket Half Evil.  Not much else.  Had I known there was almost 4,000 feet of climbing... maybe I woulda brought some food.  Probably not tho.

Waiting for the 1:00 start that was delayed for technical reasons, I found myself still hungry.  Shit.  Back to the cabin for my can of Pringles and then lie down in the sun to stay warmish.  Line up for the LeMans start, watch Nick struggle to get out of his skinny jeans without taking off his shoes, take advantage of the situation and tackle him to the ground.  With less than forty five seconds before the start, I now feel bad for Nick, so I help him as best I could to remove his pants.  With about ten seconds to spare, we're both on our feet and ready.

Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever says "GO!"  I get about ten strides into my run when I feel something grab my shoulder and throw me into a spin.  Nick has justly payed me back for the late tackle, and when I finally ended up facing the right direction, I was at the very back of the pack.  Getting to my bike was a chaotic affair, as my bike was towards the back, an I had to navigate my way through the stampede of riders coming right back at me.  On the bike, I put in some kind of effort to move up a few positions before getting to the first trail.

photo cred: Drunk Cyclist
The whole racing thing... ouch.  It felt like we were climbing 90% of the time.  The conditions were everything from peanut butter, fudge, Crisco, pie crust, cookie dough, frosting....

I might have been relating all the varying dirt samples to food because by the third lap (1.5 hours in), I was incredibly hungry.  I woulda ate anything I found on the ground, but there wasn't a dropped gel to be found.  I had no idea where I was sitting in the SS class, but I saw Chris Joice coming back up on me.  Damn.  Thought I had put him away earlier.  I decided to just dig deep, keep looking over my shoulder for the catch, and hope I didn't fall apart.  Luckily, none of those things happened.

photo cred: Drunk Cyclist
I finished.  Went straight to my Pringles.  Was handed a beer, but felt severely "meh" about it.  Ate more Pringles.  I finally headed over to see how I did and retrieve my puffy coat from the finish line.

Third place in the SS class, top ten overall or something.  Strange.  I didn't think that could be possible, but things happen.  People quit.  I dunno.  Wait for the podium, get called down, hear Eric say, "Wait, there's been a protest."

I know it's gotta be me getting bumped off the podium.  It is.

Timmy took the win and some guys that I don't know bested me.  This makes sense, and being that my only goal was to actually finish, I don't mind so much.

Time to follow through with the second part of the plan to finish the day with a successful run at the night downhill race.

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