Congratulations! You have qualified for the 2008 USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships scheduled for July 16-20, 2008 at Mount Snow Resort in West Dover, VT.
...blah, blah, blah...
Hope to see you there! Good luck with your season.
USA Cycling, Inc.
Mountain Bike Events and Program Director
WOW, Thank You Kelli! I danced around the room like a lunatic celebrating my good fortune. USA Cycling must really like me, ...they really like me!! I just knew sooner or later somebody would spot my MTB talent, despite my inability to go down hill faster than 15 mph.
...and then it hit me, "wait, I'm only a beginner mountain biker. It says so right here on my license, and I've only done a single race. hmmmmm..."
So I investigated further, thinking perhaps, just maybe, a few other people might have also passed the stringent qualifying criteria, whatever it may be. A few clicks and I'm onto the USA Cycling site where the exclusive list of Nationals Qualifiers is kept. I drilled down further. Men's Cross Country ...click. Beginner ...click. 40-49 ...click. Woah, holy sheep, I'm devastated to find that 594 other Cross-country Beginner Men aged 40-49 have also qualified for MTB Nationals! Congratulations indeed. Whatever.
Could it be that all Kelli really wants is my $55 entry fee?
OK, since we're on this subject, am I the only one who thinks the concept of a National Championship race for Beginner mountain bikers is a tad screwy? Talk about encouraging sand-bagging! If I were king, I'd also do away with the Sport class nationals. Keep Expert and Pro, that's it. Expert is analogous to Masters Nationals on the road, and Pro... well, you know. Whatever.
But of course you should come out to The Santa Ynez Valley Classic presented by Platinum Performance.
It's gonna be a gorgeous weekend!
And what's up with the weather forecast up in Hood River, Oregon?
Where's all that rain, hail, and snow I remember from my trips to the Mt. Hood Classic? Whatever.
OK, now if you are a big-time bike-racer and regularly look behind you and see these vehicles...
...or for that matter, your logo-emblazoned team car, then you don't need to read any further. This issue won't concern you. Truth be told, it probably doesn't concern much of anybody, but Cookie and I were talking about this the other day, so I figured I throw it out for you too.
Consider Joe, who's in the best shape of his life going into the Bummforky RR, a regional event run by the biggest club in the district. He gets to the venue with plenty of time. Registers, pins numbers on, arranges his feeds, tags an extra set of wheels for the follow vehicle, and warms up. It's a beautiful Spring morning. The race starts and his legs turn perfect circles; today he's got extra wattage and feels no pain, so he attacks and drags away a couple guys. Their move is rocking and soon they've put 3:00 into the chasing peloton. Joe's pulls are the strongest. By far. He thinks he can win this sucka.
Then disaster... Pffffftt...Pffffftt...Pffffftt... the dreaded sound of air escaping his front tire.
His breakaway partners stop pedaling. Instinctively, Joe raises his left arm--left for front, right for rear--pulls over to the road side and looks back. No follow vehicle. He looks forward again just in time to see his former partners picking up their speed. They disappear around a bend and all is quiet for a couple minutes. He flips the skewer and knocks out the traitorous wheel. After what seems like an eternity, Joe sees the field approaching in the distance. Silent at first, then a rising whir of chains, wheels, and wind. As they finally pass by, he hears "Bummer dude!" from some faceless pack-filler in the back. Then, at last, the follow vehicle stops beside him. It's an older pickup driven by an older man, and despite 30 sets of wheels stuffed into the bed, Joe immediately spots his pair. Quick as lightning, he grabs the front, pops it in, and tosses the lame one in the truck. Within seconds he's stomping on the pedals again, chasing the uncaring field off in the distance. Two minutes of anaerobic fury but making no apparent progress. Heart rate at 190, legs burning. He cracks, screams out "F%@&^@K!!", and quits.
Two weeks later, Joe's back at it in the Numnuzz RR. He's lost some fitness so he rides conservatively in the middle of the field. He's relieved each time the pack successfully chases down an attack. No help from Joe today; he's saving matches and hoping for a field sprint. But then in a momentary lull, a strong five-man move pinches off the front. This time nobody takes up the chase from the now-apathetic field. The guys ahead make the most of their opportunity, rotating fast and smooth, and quickly they gain 40 seconds. Joe can't believe what happens next... the neutral follow vehicle--a white Ford Bronco--roars past the group and races up behind the break. And then...
Pffffftt...Pffffftt...Pffffftt... Joe flats again. "F#@&%&K!"
Hey blog reader, wake up!! Instead of the lame fiction above, maybe I should just ask you: Should the neutral support vehicle stay behind everybody, or should it support the riders who are most in contention for the win? What about dropped riders? What if the field breaks up into a bunch of small groups? Where goes the wheel wagon?