Friday ended up as another write off day of clouds and rain, so heading to Moab for the weekend didn't take much convincing. The feeling is pretty mutual across the board as most Telluriders join the mass exodus towards the desert and slightly warmer temperatures.
After working part of the day, I found myself at home on the couch with a lot to do and little motivation. My wife eventually put the fire under my behind to get the truck all arranged for the camping and riding weekend and so we headed out under heavy skies that looked like steel plate.
We arrived in Moab around dinner time and went straight to registration. The folks at the booth ran the sign in process with the precision of German engineering and little sense of humor. We're almost through, when we see Tim come in, so we chat and decide to have dinner together right around the corner at the Broken Oar Restaurant. The place is nice although slightly tilted towards the geriatric crowd, but the waitress was sweet and well versed in her knowledge of the menu specifically the "home made" deserts that she made a point of clarifying that they were indeed "home made". We ate, skipped the dessert, then headed to City Market for bars, water and what-have-you. Conveniently, Oz, Chris, Noah, Kelly and Beckett were staying at the campground right around the corner. In we pull to say hi, as the gang is coming back from dinner and so the sarcastic jokes start; mostly about systematic doping that we know enough about to sound smart. We laugh, get loud but eventually calm down to take some photos.
Well, with all that out of the way, we all retired to our places of rest for the night. Most camped, some got hotels, and as usual we stayed in our truck; aka the Mad Tugboat. We pulled right to the starting line, brush our teeth, grab our iPads and to the back of the truck we head. I lasted a few minutes before I completely passed out slightly conscious of the blowing wind and rain outside.
But morning came and surprisingly the weather was calm. White doves descended with olive branches and then I knew that all was going to be well on this day.
I'm not a morning person, but the Jetboil going and the smell of coffee got me up and the start of the day's preparations.
I was as slow as a teenage girl getting ready for Prom night, while Jesse and Trevor swung by to say hi. At the restrooms, I ran into Brian Miller, local legend who I believe crushed the event. Very good!
Eventually I got my act together and headed to the starting line which by now was pretty full. The guys lined up closer to the front while late arrivals Becca and I were somewhere middle of the pack on the sidelines.
We roll out, neutrally, but when you have 500 riders, there is bound to be some bad apples. I am guilty of this as well, but there is always the handful of riders who feel that the longer they are in the front the higher the chance of winning. Oh how I pity the fools...
So the group surged and fluctuated with the characteristics of a rubber band. As Telluriders, we stayed close to the front and hugged the yellow line. No sense in getting boxed in. With the erratic pace and not 20 miles in, I was already in the red, but once we turned and started the false flat ascent, the pace settled and everyone found a group to ride in. We were spread all over, Chris, Noah and Tim were ahead of me, Jesse, Oz and Becca close behind.
Reaching the first aid station also signaled the start of the notorious climb. Last year I cramped so this year I decided to stop and grab a banana and some water. Starting up, I quickly found myself in my granny gear with no relief other than some serious body gyrations to keep the momentum going. Form, integrity and any personal dignity went right out the window leaving me to display very unnatural hip thrusts towards my defenseless bars and stem. Man and Machine becoming one through the attempt at procreation. I weaved all over the road trying to keep my 39-25 cog going when a few miles in, I hear music and turning around I see that my lovely wife just caught me. Damn! Being second to my wife has proven to be the story of my life, but I have always been a stronger cyclist.... until today.
And.....the weather which until now held just fine, decided it had enough and unleashed a complete white out blizzard of sleet and snow. We froze in about two seconds regardless of the effort we were putting out. At this point I transcended to that other dimension and stayed there, in my safe place. I believe I pedaled and continued on because after what seemed like eternity I eventually crested the top and started the descent. The road was all white with little frozen snowballs and not being able to feel my hands I went at it by faith alone. The cross winds were something I have never experienced before and even with small profile rims, I fought like a lion to keep the bike upright. My wife was descending behind me which surprised me because she has never been a strong descender but I believe both of us longed to get down off the pass to warmer temperatures and hopefully some shelter from the wind. We made it without any incident and started the long straightaway to the finish line. Not much was said other than checking in periodically to make sure we stayed on each other's wheel. And so, we approached the incline finish where Becca crossed the line 4th in the Women's Overall Category, placing me 5th also in Women's Overall.
Eventually we all rolled in and congregated in the park in spite of the rain and cold weather. Once the shock wore off, and we all got some food in us, the spirits rose and the laughs and stories started. Both Noah and Tim narrated something equal to the 1992 Milan SanRemo and the battle between Kelly and Argentin. Priceless...
Kelly vs. Argentin
and that was that. Great event with epic memories that carried us on dark clouds back to Telluride and... SURPRISE!! more snow.