I clock out of work early on Saturday to spend a few hours working on my bike. I clean everything, repack some bearings, and eliminate all the creaks.
"If I can just get through Ohio without it being muddy, I won't have to clean my bike for the rest of the month." I say to my co-worker Wild Willie Davis.
Colleen and I finish cramming everything into the tiny convertible, then start the drive down to Lake Hope State Park south-eastern Ohio. When we get to the park at 10pm, we park by the lake, set up our hammocks, and go to sleep.
I wake up at 3:00am. There's something rustling around next to my hammock. I put my glasses on and look into the dark woods. Can't see anything. I smack my hatchet against the ground to make some noise. There's some gobbling and stupid sounding shuffling through the leaves. Turkeys. I go back to sleep.
When the sun comes up we check out our surroundings. There are a bunch of targets. We were sleeping in the archery range. We pack up our stuff and scoot out of there before somebody sticks us with an arrow.
We make coffee and check out the little lake. It looks like it would be a nice place for a lame family vacation.
After a few minutes there's some stomping down the stairs of the pavilion behind us. A guy in a hat grumbles good morning and opens up the boat rental shop. He spends his days selling Lady Buck's Special Sauce, but flies the Jolly Roger on his counter to show that he will give no quarter to children who want a Hot Diggity Dog without the Special Sauce:
We drive over to the registration area for the race, and it starts to rain. Shit. Then it rains harder. By 12, it's dumping. The trails are going to be a mess.
We stand on the start line. I don't want to do this.
"Go!" We sprint up a gravel hill then down a road. Dirty spray is shooting up into my eyes. I can't see. We turn into the trail. It's really sloppy. I pass Brad and a few other guys and start churning through the mud. This is going to be a long race.
I finish the first 15 mile lap. Derek Bissett is right behind me. He passes me on the drier sections of trial, and I pass him when it gets really muddy and disgusting. I'm not feeling great. I squeeze my back brake. Nothing. Great. Now I'm going to have to find pads when I get to Colorado. I should have just kept driving. We would be through Indiana by now.
Two miles from the finish I crack. I can't even pedal up the hills now. I start walking through the mud. This sucks. I cross the finish line. My bike is destroyed and I feel like crap.
I go stand in the shower. The water is just a hot little trickle. I almost have to stand against the wall to get under it. I hate Ohio. It's evil land. Every bit of it.
The rain stops. It would stop now. Brad drives away with his windows up. Some screaming and thrashy guitars leak out of his Subaru.
"Long drive back to Pittsburgh?" somebody asks.
"No, long drive to Boulder." I say. We pack up the tiny convertible again.