2016 Sage Brush Scramble


Author: Fritz Stafford

Published: April 27, 2016

Preparing for a race takes more energy than you think. The training schedule for the preceding week has to be focused on race freshness. Race day has to be reserved for the race travel, race associated activities and the race, and this does not always coincide with the preferences of spouse, family and etcetera. Of course, the bike, spare bike / wheels, kit, back-up kit, hydration and feeding supplies, camera and etcetera all need to be prepared and loaded into the bike race vehicle.

Even though it had rained over night, the 7:15AM report was that the course condition was adequate, and the races would proceed on schedule. However, the rain continued and intensified throughout the morning. I repacked my Prius to make room to put my bike inside so I could at least line-up with a lubricated chain. I knew it was a bad sign when I exited the interstate and immediately drove through a mud wash emanating from the dirt driveway of the fireworks warehouse.

As I drove the three miles south on Simco road to the course, I noted the west wind was blowing steady at 20-25mph, and I told myself that 43F steady rain and 20-25mph steady wind might discourage some competitors, but not me. When I got to the course parking lot, I saw there were only ~15 vehicles when there should have been ~3x more. I parked just off the edge of the graveled parking area where I had parked the previous year. I knew it was a bad sign when I stepped out of my car into ankle deep mud in my sandals.

The first race that started at 11:00AM was in progress on the last lap. As I walked toward the start / finish area, fellow competitor Connell Lloyd who had watched the first two laps pulled me out of the weather into the leeward side of the incinerator building to explain the course was too muddy, and there was no point in damaging equipment or health. Many of the other competitors agreed with Connell, and then there were only 7 vehicles in the parking lot.

I continued toward the start / finish area, but I could see there was only one person present, and the few other observers were watching from their car or the office doorway, so I opted for the office to sign-in and pick-up my number. Most of the remaining competitors were in the office area, and they were all in various stages of deciding to not start their race. At this point, I had to start my race warm-up routine, or decide to not start. I opted for the latter, and it was the right decision, but I did not feel good about it.

A few people did race. There were five competitors and 17 DNS in the Cat3 race; there were four competitors and 22 DNS in the Cat2 race; there were two competitors and one DNS in the single-speed race, which was included in the Cat2 race; there were four Pros (three men and one woman) and one DNS (one woman) in the Pro/Open race; and there was one competitor and 12 DNS in the Cat1 age category race, which was included in the Pro/Open race. I leave it to the reader to decide what this implies regarding differences between Pros and single-speed racers in comparison to the rest of the competitors. However, I will point out that the Cat3 competitors did not have the advantage of witnessing any prior race, nor as much experience as the rest of the competitors.

Wild Rockies Race Team was represented by two Pros, Dave Harrison took 1st place, and Darren Lightfield took 2nd place, although Darren was passed by non-pro Frank Benzing with two laps remaining. Darren claims this was only possible, because Frank is feather weight who was able to float on top of the mud, while Darren had to plow through it.

The weather cleared somewhat on the drive home, and I learned that it had not rained nearly as much up at our cabin in Garden Valley, so I decided to attempt to salvage the day with a ride on the dirt trails at our cabin. However, upon first taking the dogs on an exercise walk, I found that I was so exhausted I needed to take the day off.

Michele was not available to take any race photos, as she and her sister who was visiting from back east were doing gourd craft at a gourd conference.

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