In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley.
To A Mouse On Turning Up Her Nest With The Plow
Unless you've lived in northern Arizona in the springtime you've probably got no idea what subtle madness the wind can evoke. No idea. As Burns might put it, "Wit wot forse eur winde doth blowe!"
My first spring here in Flagstaff I recall asking a classmate, "What's up with this wind? Does it ever stop?" She just smiled and replied, "No. Not until summer."
Sometimes it seems summer will never come.
Nevertheless, it will. And there's much to do before it does... I should not be blogging, but I honestly find teh blogging relaxing... I've got grading to finish, scores to tabulate, report cards to complete, and this year, as a special bonus, a classroom to pack into boxes just in case the school board decides to close and relocate my school and all that goes with it, including me. Word is they'll let us know by June 8... It's nuts. I know.
But still, it's not the school board, it's really the wind that persists in adding stress to our lives, in making us feel ever-so-slightly crazy. All the other stuff would seem that much less bizarre if gale-force winds weren't blowing at mach all day, everyday... for days and days and days.
the bike race, the wind presented far fewer challenges than it could have. Ingenious (or perhaps just coincidental) planning put most of the race facing the wind in the trees on rocky trails, where, aside from the din the wind creates overhead, the effects of the blowing are minimal. And, when we came out of the trees the lap-layout had all of us climbing the Elden Lookout Road with a truly righteous tailwind behind us. Only during the last mile, across Buffalo Park's exposed, treeless meadow, did the wind get tricky.
As part of my prep I checked the seatbag's contents (tube, tool, levers, patches: check) to make sure everything was A-OK. And I removed the big, old black Mt. Zefal pump from it's place behind the seat-tube, just to make sure it's stroke was still smooth... these old pumps, if you don't keep 'em lubed about once a year, they get kinda sticky. And, since they're old-ish, they're easy to take apart and relube (and rebuild, too).
stress-riser to form. Because it was hidden under the pump strap, and because I hadn't flatted in a while, I didn't notice it until it was well-beyond fatal, as flaws go. In disbelief initially, I hit it with a bit of sand-paper, hoping, "Maybe, just maybe it's only a flaw in the powder-coat," but knowing in my heart it likely wasn't. My heart was right.
Scratch one singlespeed.
I figured the bike was a total loss and began to make arrangements to ship it off for display at the Salida, Colorado, Absolute Bikes Museum. But my wife insisted I contact the builder, Paul Sadoff, first and ask him if anything at all could be done. Reluctantly, knowing most frame builders loathe doing repairs and therefore fearing the worst, I did. Paul graciously replied the same day, "Hello, John. If you can get the paint stripped I could replace the seat tube. It's a really tough job but that bike has some significance to you and also it is historically significant to me... There's also the possibility of welding up the crack and filling the dent. I guess I wouldn't know what is the best course of action until I saw the frame. There's a local guy here who can strip the paint for $ 55 if needed. Let me know if you wish to proceed. Cheers, Paul." I told Paul I did indeed wish to proceed. And, as of today, the bike is disassembled and ready for stripping and shipping; the Rock Lobster resurrection project is underway!
For whatever it's worth, I'm not exactly sure how I finished [See UPDATE below]... But I finished! Twenty-one miles in just over two hours on a singlespeed as fast as I could muster.
hundreds of other racers out on Saturday, but as it turned out only six guys in my heat, Expert Open Singlespeed, five looking very young, very fast, and riding very nice bikes... and me, looking much older and slower on my trail-worn Stumpy. I could have entered the Sport group and been slightly less intimidated and out-gunned by my competition. But I really wanted to race, and be challenged by it, ya know. Plus, I thought paying $50.00 to do just one quick lap was kinda dumb. But, paying $50.00 to do two laps... with a handful of guys way-fitter than me. Now that's money well-spent!
here [.pdf]. As you can see on the screen grab at-left, I got 5th of 7 riders at a respectable off-the-couch pace of 6:24 per mile. However, in my classification I finished more than 30 minutes behind the leader and almost a full 20 minutes behind the guy who came in 4th, just ahead of me. But that means I still actually beat one guy, fair-and-square, and the DNFer, too. The gasper and the no-show. And I gapped the gasper by almost 15 minutes! And totally killed Mr. DNF!
So, okay, maybe I care a little.
Best of all: It was wonderful to be surprised by my wife and daughter cheering me on at the beginning of my first lap, at the bottom of the first descent behind Buffalo Park, and then again at the finish line some two hours later. They had a whole host of obligations and events of their own on Saturday morning, so it was pretty special that they found some time to see me off at the beginning and also to greet me at the end!
"You winned, daddy! I'm so proud that you winned!" my daughter told me as she ran to greet me at the finish line. And even though it wasn't exactly accurate, it was well-meant and I loved hearing it.
Thanks, girls! I love you.