Saturday December 14th 2013. I got woken up early by the sound of Rufio rummaging around looking for all of his layers, follow by a door slam as he left to go get the free continental breakfast from the Econo-Something we were staying at for the weekend. The forecast looked miserable for the weekend, cold rain, mid 30’s for Saturday, and clear but high 20’s on Sunday. I didn’t know what would be best to wear for the race so I put on one of everything I brought with me. That ended up not being quite enough.
The race didn’t start until 9:30 but we had to set up our racing camp which included the Charlotte B-Cycle tent (covered on 3 sides with clear plastic from Home Depot), the PBR tent (covered in tarps from Wal-Mart), and the many cases of beer and SWAG provided to me from my friends at Pabst. The unloading and set up took a little longer that we had anticipated as the rain started exactly at the same moment we found a parking place. Tents up first, struggle with the tarps and plastic with the wind second. Once we got the wind blockers up we started to make our home inside the tents. I stripped some layers and got into what I was going to wear for the race(which included an ugly Christmas sweater covered in saxophones and piano keys), plus a jacket I could strip off at the line, and went for a practice lap. We didn’t get through an entire lap before we were called off the course and up to the starting line. WHAT!? It wasn’t even 9 o’clock, no time to really warm up my muscles or the other parts that got frozen while setting up camp. Someone tossed me a water proof beanie last minute which probably saved my life. Literally. The oversized vents in my Bell “summer roadie” helmet were not good in protecting me from the freezing rain drops.
As the rain continued to fall on the starting line, I started to get a little nervous about my tires. In the ¾ of the practice lap I was able to ride I had little to no traction, and that was before the field had its way with it. As I looked around, I see that everyone had a lot more tread on their tires than I did. See the only thing I skimped on was tires, I thought I had a set I was going to use (they would have been perfect but told they were too heavy) but swapped with something else last minute. They might as well have been slicks. I started mid pack and stayed there until the first set of turns. My goal was not only to stay uprightbut to also try and not take out the entire back half of the field if I do go down. Believe it or not, I did stay upright, which tells me that I was going something wrong, and not riding fast enough. The course went from mud to swamp in the first lap and the section uphill through the woods was a 100 yard dash through diarrhea by the time I got there. I finished, technically in last place, but the 7 people behind me that didn’t finish didn’t count on the scoreboard. Damn, I guess I have to start somewhere, I guess at the back.
The rest of the day was great once I put on all of the two days’ worth of cloths I brought with me and warmed up. We heckled the hell out of everyone even the pros and the women. We generally took it easy on the kids, most of them looked seconds away from tears anyway, except for the little guy who asked if we were drunk, that kid got all kinds of hell. His mom really enjoyed it. We continued to pass out free PBR, 16oz at a time to the visitors of our camp, and in smaller doses to the racers that would take the hand ups from us. The company who own PBR also owns Twinkie, and I was given a case of those as well. Two amazing things happened with those Twinkies that day; the first was bacon wrapped Twinkie’s, way better than they sound, and the second was when Rufio smashed and entire Twinkie in Andrew Stackhouse’s eye as he raced passed out camp. I don’t know if it was intentional, but it was hilarious.
The rest of the weekend was a blast. The race on Sunday was a lap shorter because it took so much time to get through the sloppy mess the lap times were significantly longer. I didn’t finish last, and that was awesome. Not to mention I made the cover of cyclingillustrated.com webpage with the pic below of me in the orange PBR hunting hat screaming by balls off! At the end of the day, I made new friends, did our best to finish off the remaining PBR, and headed back to Charlotte. Would I do it again, hell yes, big things planned for 2014!
Me "supporting" my new BFF Tim Johnson