Yesterday it was cool and gray at the beginning of the Fireweed 400. Still, I felt warm as I sailed among the cloud kissed mountains, dashing up the hills and flying down the other side. I marveled at the shape I was in. The shape of a sail it turned out. After the turnaround point, with the wind in my face, my T-Shirt billowed out behind me like a spinnaker, at least it did until the cold rain started and it stuck to my back. Going back, I could go down hills only as fast I could go up hills with a tail wind on the way out. No bed has ever looked more raggled than I did when I finished.
And not just finished. Finished, and thought I had won (if you even can win) the non-competitive division. I was practicing a demure smile and saying, "I guess I'm just the least non-competitive person in this division." I was surprised and disappointed to find out that several people had come in before me. Surprised, because there appeared to be more finishers than starters. Then I was irritated to realize, or at least assume, that since our start time had been posted as both 11am and 11:15am, some racers had started with a head start. I calmed down when I realized that even adding fifteen minutes to their times would still make them faster than I, but not, obviously, by as much. I'm listed in the sports section as the second fastest men's finisher.
I'm not sure you can appreciate how huge that is. Until now, the only time I've been in the sports section was when I was standing on it to paint a wall. And not only in the standings, but Ambre and I were pictured on the back page of the sports section!
Ambre's ride was much harder than mine. With my new bike, going up hills was like riding an elevator to the top; for Ambre, it was like going up dragging an elevator behind her. She also had persistent mechanical problems that added time. She struggled, but she finished! Karen was inspired by Ambre's refusal to quit. Karen and her best friend Corinne worked as our support team, driving back and forth between us with water and trail mix. When I finished I joined the support team for Ambre. When I drove up, she said she didn't want to sound ungrateful, but she felt like she'd been abandoned for a long time. She did sound pretty ungrateful and I told her so. She was unmollified even when I explained that we couldn't have come any quicker because I was having a hamburger at the lodge.