Up at 7:00AM, coffee and such. Load the Honda Fit of Rage and head over to Paul and Jana's. Load up with BC and Madonna in the Black Bear Adventures Sprinter van (cue up the van life envy) and hit the road. Make good time up I77 but then get on I81 just one pee break too many to end up behind this:
photo cred: Casey TaylorWe would sit in the van for more than two hours. Well, sit, pace, walk about, make friends, maybe break my oath to not drink beer the day before the race, and more than once think about the fact that while I might be stuck in traffic, I'm still alive. Really hard to bitch about that.
Back to moving forward, late lunch at The Pink Cadillac Diner (don't get the fish and chips... just don't), and get to the Stokesville Campground. In my mind, it's late. Too late for the ride I planned on doing to Trimble Mountain Trail (the first time in 11 years that I had a good plan for a day-before ride). The others decide to head out anyways, but I don't think I can really wind down after riding this late. I'm still on my plan, just skipping the hard parts that require effort.
Head over to register and eat pasta dinner. I run into Dahn Pahrs. He tells me that I got the number one plate. I think he's full of shit, but he says it's on the Facebook. How would I know? I generally turn off my phone while I'm here.
He wasn't lying. The man at registration is drawing pictures on the back of the number plates. He tells me that almost everyone that has seen my name on the #1 plate has made a suggestion. I told him to go with it.
He starts with the main outline. I ask him if he's every seen a dick before.
I quickly surmised that Jeremiah Bishop couldn't make it, thus the availability of the #1 plate honors. Of course, I would be the natural replacement.
Realizing that I haven't ridden the Vertigo Meatplow V.7 since SSUSA weeks ago, I decide maybe I better spin it around. No place better than the flow trails that are onsite here at the Stokesville Lodge. Pretty much the same as race conditions. Just 98 miles shorter. Roll, roll, roll and end up at Camp Merriam.
photo cred: Chris MerriamChris tells me how to hook up on the lower sections of the flow trail (which I should remember from last year, but can't for some reason), and I head there... only to hear someone yell "DICK" halfway down, and I stop, stand, and look around.
Scott Rusinko and John Haddock. Two folks I'm picking for the SS podium this year.
Head over the the pavilion, hang out, see old friends, someone tells me that Keg #1 is PBR, but Keg #2 is a double IPA and decide that as long as I don't let things get out of hand....
Watts isn't here, so there's at least a 50% chance I can keep myself in check without his bad influence.
I end up missing my self-imposed 9:00PM bed time by a bit and then some, but crawl in my tent at a decent hour for a night of drool-soaked, strange dream interrupted sleep.
I wake up as I have on the morning before Labor Day as I have for the past ten years, to the sound of the gong being beaten.