Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sulphur Suffer

The first summer that we lived in Colorado, Val and I drove up to Hot Sulphur Springs, in Grand County, for the annual city festival and mountain bike race.  It was to be my first mountain bike race at altitude, and I was a little nervous about it.  But, it looked like it might be fun, so I put my fears behind me and headed up.

The day was gorgeous the way that sunny, warm summer days are in the Rockies.  The sky overhead was a cobalt blue, with a few puffy white clouds floating along, and the sun was blazing down.  I put on some sunscreen, and got ready for the race.

The course was pretty interesting.  As the Starter explained it, we would make a circuit through town, on city streets, with a detour through City Park.  There, the fire department had hosed down the trail, producing a huge mud pit that we would have to negotiate, before heading back through town and out onto the 15 mile loop of singletrack/jeep trail/cow pasture that made up the off-road portion of the race.

The gun went off, and the 100, or so, racers took off.  We sprinted down the street, made the left and plunged into the park/mud pit.  There, the majority of the 500 people who lived in town were gathered to watch us splash through the sticky pit.  Water balloons and Super Soakers, wielded by some of the local youngsters, added to the fun.

From the park, we turned left once again, and headed down the street to a gate in the fence around a huge pasture.  Once in the pasture, we were all racing toward to converging lines of yellow emergency tape which would funnel us through another gap in the fence and onto a Jeep trail. 

As we raced across the pasture, I was part of the lead group, holding onto 4th or 5th place as we bumped across the open field.  I was feeling good, and I was amazed to be so far toward the front.  Then, the guy in front of me stuck his front wheel into a hole, and went cartwheeling off of his bike.

His bike flew up into the air, and his back wheel caught me squarely in the chest.  I was knocked backward off of my bike, and the dominoes started to fall.  Before it was over, there were about 20 of us on the ground, and the rest of the pack was thundering by as we tried to figure out just what had happened.

I got back on the bike, and took off in pursuit of the race.  But, I had lost so many places, I could never hope to get back into the frontrunners.  So, I settled in and just rode my best pace.  I reeled in a few guys, got passed by a few guys, and ended up coming in at my customary mid-pack position.

I was happy with that.

After the race, I changed clothes and asked Val if she wanted to get something to eat at the local grill.  We went in, and sat down in a booth with unpadded seats.  Ouch!  I immediately noticed that I had sat on a nail, or a splinter, or something...

I got up and looked, but there was nothing there.

I sat back down.  Same thing:  I felt like I was sitting on something pointy and sharp.

After inspecting the bench again, I figured I had better inspect myself.  So, I went into the restroom and dropped my pants.  Looking in the mirror, I could see that I had the coolest bruise, ever, on my right butt-cheek.  Apparently, the nose of my Flite saddle had center-punched my cheek, during the big crash.  It had made the the most perfect round bruise, which showed up as concentric rings of varying shades of purple (from lilac to almost black, outside to center), that I had ever seen.

 I came out of the restroom laughing, and Val asked what was so funny.  I described it to her, but she didn't seem as impressed as I was. 

Later, when we got home and she saw it, Val had to admit was pretty impressive.

"Too bad you can't show it to anybody else," she said.

She had never worked in a bike shop.

Before the week was out, at least 25 people had asked to see it, at the shop.  And, I'm not too shy to show off a good bruise, wherever it is.

I just wish I had thought to take a picture of it.  It was a work of art.


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