Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Chicken For A Day

Having received the bad news that my Platinum Performance pal and cycling mentor/motivator, Mr. Mortgage, wasn’t heading up for the Big Bear Shootout June 1 reminded me that my bicycles currently out-value my autos and none qualified as appropriate (read: reliable) transport to the start line. Enter one Former Olympian. I was down at the shop buying a really fine seat bag for the race rig (you know, the ones that come with a yellow bag with a square hole (I thought it was a free with purchase “Elephant Man”Halloween mask) when I mentioned needing a lift to the big day. The FO said he’d mention it around town and give a shout if somebody had an open seat. Seemed like one of those things that gets said and then floats off like a smoke ring. To my great shock and pleasure FO called at the beginning of race week and said that there was a cancellation and did I want to ride with---drum roll---the great chicken ranch trinity. Now, I have only been riding on two wheels without a beer in my hand for about a year and am new to SB, but not so new that I don’t know when my life is about to change! The fam and I relocated to Goleta last year from the Alamo City (clap, clap, clap, deep in the heart of Texas) last year and so we know a thing or two about ranches. I pulled up at the biggest chicken’s coop at the crack’o for the get-a-long and sure as heck, them boys showed up all a wearin’ stretchy pants, just like back in the Republic. I knew I was amongst kin.

Loaded up with the big one and the bling one, we went to Milpas and picked up what appeared to be a homeless man on a bike. But, whoa moses, there’s those stretchy pants again, spare that brother a dime! You can imagine the amount of cataloging my newbie mind was doing given this “all access” pass to observe the super chickens pre-race routines. Let’s see: there were the TWO cupcakes and a bottle of water for the homeless guy; a mysterious, peanut buttery smelling mixture eaten out of a plastic bag for the bling one and damned if the big one didn’t eat a peanut butter and jelly an hour before the race like it was 2d grade lunch period! All that restraint made me question the Belgian waffle, sausage patties and Frappacino I had slowly eaten precisely 3.4 hours before the race start.

One unfortunate episode on the way to the race, a spirit woman named Gigi, who’s voice seemed to be channeled through the bling one, gave us totally bogus directions that had us perilously close to losing almost 7.3 minutes of drive time and the homeless guys sanity. On the bright side it did give us a chance to check out Jeff’s white Yeti, TWICE! Not to fear, the troops landed with mucho tiempo to spare.

Once on the mountain everyone got right down to the business of race-preparedness, which way to the port-a-potties?!? After registrating and getting free-taco ticketed we got our collective arses in the saddle for what seemed like a 45 minute climb to the race start. The weather was fab-you-los, maybe 70 and almost no wind and the staging area was pleasantly cool. The big one was made to start early as he is big and must go further. Then off went the bling-y one with the FO on the medium loop. Sometime later, off I go with a huff and a puff or I’ll blow at altitude on the small one (and it was just right)!

The course was super fun, a long climb out of the start and then some rolly fire road. Things got interesting when the trails merged and I was greeted from behind by blingy and the FO who gave a much needed “atta boy” to the slaving limbs below me. There were some nice single track sections with varying degrees of difficulty from soft loamy dappled shade prettiness to sharp rock, pick your line or you gonna hurt, bomb-a-thons. My “glory” moment was chasing down my category foe, Mike Rauls, from team SHOW-OFF on a single track section. We had passed each other several times on the course and he made a move and got to the single track ahead of me. When we got to a fairly large spot of water, he decided to dismount and go around the edge. I quickly reflected on the situation, “what would the b team do?” I hopped off the war pony and went cyclocross through what turned out to be knee deep water and never looked back.

About 2 miles from the finish after panting up yet another climb and coming down some fairly sketchy fire road, I felt something falling on my legs. Was that thirty minute port-a-potty visit not enough to clear the bulkhead? When I looked down I saw my “Elephant Man” mask from the new seat pack wrapped around my cassette. I also realized that the recreational bikers on the trails were going to score some nice tire levers, a tube, patch kit, multi-tool and the overdue DVD’s from Blockbuster that I was going to return on the way home. Ten seconds into the argument with myself about whether to stop and clear it the jury came back: There was no flippin way daddy-o was pullin over. So I managed to shift into a gear and got a pedalin’, single-speed style. The chicken karma worked its magic and I got across the finish 4 minutes ahead of the dreaded SHOman.

The big one came in fifth in the papa category, just 7 minutes off the pace and is truly a spectacular captain of the good ship chicken ranch. FO and the bling one crossed the line 6th and 7th closer than a slow dance at the high school prom in the mama category. I, dear reader, managed top of the boxes , but then, I was chicken for a day.

PS One last amazing moment from the trip. On the way home, the FO, who is not one to camp in the outdoors, showed us how he makes “urban” s’mores. To celebrate the big right turn at the ocean and the home stretch, he produced a perfectly melted Almond Joy from his stretchy pants! Who knew the power?


Greg Knowles said...

I'll never look at an Almond Joy the same way again. Did the homeless one share the urban smore?

Anonymous said...

Dave even offered to let me lick the melted Almond Joy off his fingers since I was driving. While I was tempted to accept, there was a camera in the car and I have small children who know how to use the internet so I refused.