I left Ohiopyle last Friday afternoon with a Grumbler full of kids' bikes from my fine place of employment (1 Grumbler full = 6 kids' bikes + 1 29er) and headed for Eryn's place in Penn Hills. All the wee person bikes were for the first big Velomuse Junior Development event.
After more than an hour of driving, none of the little hunks of steel had fallen off my rack. I was glad:
That evening we watched Klunkerz, and I fell alseep in a chair (the movie was alright, but my tiredness outweighed my interest.)
The next morning we went to the Venture Outdoors festival, unloaded the kids bikes, and sat under a bridge while it poured. There where hundreds of people running and riding bikes around the city in yellow t-shirts, grimacing and getting soaked. Most of them looked like they were busting into a trot for the first time in years. Apparently, there was a diamond ring hidden somewhere and whoever found it first got to keep it. I don't quite understand why people place so much value on a little stone, but it was good to see so many people storming the city on bikes.
I was worried that the day was going to be a total wash but, once the sun came out, we had at least 30 or 40 kids go through the obstacles:
Eryn did a nice writeup, so I won't repeat her, but the event went really well once the sun came out.
At 4, I started to rush to get everything packed up so that I could get to Rob's place for the long drive to Spencer.
When we got back to Eryn's house, it started to pour again while I struggled to unhook the cam straps that were holding the wooden obstacles to my roof. Once the things were offloaded, I headed back to the parkway. It was raining so hard that the streets at the bottom of Penn Hills were under almost two feet of murky water.
At the casa de Rob, I backed down his ridiculously steep driveway, got a little too close to the wall, and heard a loud crunch. I'd backed into one of Chrissy's potted plants, killing the little guy. Oops.
We loaded the Jetta up and started the four-hour drive down to Spencer, only stopping once at the Kroger so that Chrissy could buy a basil plant, and I could stock up on a dozen pack of pepperoni rolls. I happily munched on roni rolls and chex mix for the rest of the drive.
It was almost midnight when we finally got to Charles Fork Lake so I strung my hammock to some trees next to a stream and went to sleep (after rolling out of the stupid thing twice.)
In the morning I ate some cereal, stretched, walked around, and waited for it to be noon. Pretty soon cars carrying bikes were trickling into the park and the sun started to get hot. I rode up the steep pavement climb off the start to check out the course. Predictably, the trails were covered in slippery mud.
When noon finally happened, everybody gathered at the bottom of the hill to listen to a ceremonial pre-race meeting that was delivered in a peanut buttery WV drawl. I couldn't remember a word of what was said once I got on the start line except for "First lap low, second lap high." And I didn't know what the hell that meant.
A few minutes later, we sprinted off the line and up to the top of the big hill. Benji and John Martin got the hole shot into the single track and I entered third. The first section of trail was steep and muddy switchbacks, and Benji hit a root and had to dismount. I got around him then waited until we hit the wet fire road to pass John.
Andy Weidrick and I started riding away from the rest of the pack and took turns leading. (By took turns I mean that one of us would crash or screw up and the other one would go around to the front.) The trail was slippery and covered in roots and the amount of vegetation closing in on the single track was crazy. I was getting slapped in the face by branches constantly and I caught one that gashed my arm open on the inside of my elbow. It started to bleed and got gross and sticky.
I was leading when I looked back and saw that Andy wasn't there anymore. I figured he flatted or had a mechanical so put in a surge to get as far away from him as I could. Hammering down a trail to finish the first lap I passed a volunteer that yelled into his radio "31 hauling ASS!"
The second lap was mean. It was mostly steep fire road. The course rolled up and down with climbs that never seemed to end and, to make things worse, the soil was soft and loamy, covered with leaves. It was so power sucking that I ended up having to jump off and run a lot of the climbs.
I kept trudging along and, before long, I hit the downhill that led back to the top of the dam. After a moment of panic because I thought I was going the wrong way, I got around that last bit of tape and sprinted down the hill to the finish line. I nabbed the overall win and it was a few minutes before the other guys started to trickle in.
To make an awesome bicycle day better, the good folks of Tour de Lake decided to pay me as the overall winner. I was stoked.
And Rob's foot moth was happy to have sugar to eat: