December 15, 2013 - The lap card said '4' after the first slippy, sloggy lap of the Men's B race at Limestone. And that lap seemed more like a demonstration of how something can be feasible and foolish. Two kilometers of snow, slush and mud will get you asking, 'what's the point of this?', especially when you're going to do it again. And again. And again. And again.
For me it was simple:
I preregistered and had no chance to get back my $33. So there I was, 'racing'.
A one-foot-wide swath of mud offered the only significant traction; riders deviating from this line lost what little momentum and control they had as Newton's Laws relegated them without pity. After losing several spots and spiking my heart rate while attempting to pass in the deep snow, I settled into the single file slo mo parade and started looking for the desire to complete four more gut wrenching laps.
When you're riding six miles an hour on a field lines with tape, the opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations comes often. As I passed the pit on the second lap, two guys were reveling in how 'Belgian' the course was. Belgian must be a synonym for muddy and painful.
My thoughts raced back in time to the soldiers mired in the ruined, mucky No Man's Land around Ypres during The Great War. Young men avoiding machine guns, shelling, poison gas and death. A few more laps of this sounded pretty good compared to that. And when I'm finished I can go home and eat.
Then I heard it, shouting in the distance. "Ride it!..this is a bike race...warm-ups are over..is that a single-speed you're carrying?..." I was approaching Snowball Hill. Hecklers. Time to make a move.
Why run up 100 feet of slippery slope only to hang a hard right and drop back down again? Because that's where the tape goes. Besides, those idiots up there had beer.
Lucky for me, Doug Jones was on the hill honing his heckling and had two 6's of Southern Tier in his pack. He pulled the pin on a fresh bottle and lobbed it my way. Those bitter gulps set me straight. Recharged, I remounted my bike and dropped down the snowy slide to the delight of that motley crew. Then, splat! spoosh! ting! Snowballs crashed from all around, peppering me and my bike. Nice to know someone is watching the race.
The IPA started doing it's thing and the remaining laps became less daunting. Our minds find ways to cope and mine found the silver lining. 3 1/2 laps to go took on a new meaning - three more trips up Snowball Hill. Three more chances to laugh. Three more helpings of hops. Three more bobsled runs on skinny tires. Life was beautiful again!