Like many great weekends, it started with some time in the car. Not always fun, but at least we were traveling through some of the most incredible places on the planet, so it wasn't all bad. We took a short break along the Gallatin so my son, Trey "Fishbrain" Morgan could wet a fly or two. He though he may have had a couple nibbles, but alas, no fish for dinner. Bummer.
More car time. We headed down through Yellowstone, saw a few critters, herd some bull elk bugling, and generally speaking had a grand old time. Everyone was impressed, as always, by the sight of the Tetons. Once in Jackson, we had a few hours to kill before meeting up with friends at the hotel, so we did the tourist thing and walked around downtown a bit. Fishbrain spotted a fly fishing shop, as usual, so we spent some time in there. The proprietor of the store was so impressed with Fishbrain's excitement for the sport, that he gave Trey a free fly box. Talk about making a kids day. Other than the fly shop, we pretty much decided downtown Jackson was crazy, expensive, and overly crowded, even this time of the year. If anyone is interested, we did spot a T-Rex skull fossil for sale. The sign said it was real, and only $375,000. Everyone should have one of those, right?
Next up was dinner, hotel, visiting, and sleep for an early am start to the tourney. Although the weather was awesome all weekend, being on the soccer fields at 7 am on frosty grass made for a chilly morning. The u10 Bozeman Blitz girls did their thing and played hard, coming out on top of game one, with Mariah scoring the winning goal. Next came about a 30 minute wait to get McDonald's for breakfast. The town was SO busy we couldn't get in anywhere without a huge wait, and even McD's had a line basically out the door. Crazy.
After that we headed back to the hotel, where I prepared to embark on my adventure. There was a 'cross race in victor, home of Moosecross, that I was interested in attending. To make it into a solid training day, I decided to ride to and from the race as well. Google said it was 27 miles from my hotel to Victor, but google didn't tell me about Teton Pass! Wow, that is a great ride. I think the sign said 10% for 5 miles on the Jackson side, and 10% for three miles coming back over. The climb up and over was great. I tried to keep it dialed back a bit with the racing ahead of me, but it was steep enough that I had to go fairly hard just to keep moving.
It really doesn't look like much in the photo, but that is a solid climb. Then, descending the other side was scary. Steep and fast, and the first time I'd done something like that on the cross bike. It felt like I could feel the lower psi tires just rolling around under the rim. Needless to say, I had to take it kinda easy on the way down.
Now the (supposedly) fun part, cyclocross racing. Lucky for me (or not) I arrived early enough to do the Masters race first, then the 1/2/3 race later in the afternoon. Shortly after arriving, I met up with Peter, another one of the "soccer dad's" from Mariah's team. I had told him about the race just that morning. He had brought his cross bike, and hoped to do a little riding over the weekend. Since he is a cyclist, and therefor slightly less intelligent than your average person, he, too, decided to come on over and do some suffering (HE was smart enough to drive over, though). I registered, dropped off a bunch of crap from my "commute" that I didn't need for racing, and went out to check the course.
The race was at the same venue as Moosecross, and the course was mostly the same as last year, with a few tweaks here and there. Next weekend is the annual Moosecross race, and anyone who goes can expect a good course with some of the same features as in the past, including the double barrier into the run up, the "narrows" (a twisty bermed section), a triple barrier section, the green monster (slightly different, and I'd say tougher than last year with some tight and off camber turns) and of course there will be loose dirt and plenty of bumps to contend with. There is a little more pavement added, as well a a trip around the brewery on some sketchy gravel to keep things interesting.
First up was the masters race. I started a bit conservatively, giving up the hole shot so I didn't have to be the early leader. After about 1/2 lap, I couldn't stand following anymore, and put in a solid dig. When I finally took a look back, it was me and one other guy, Troy Barry, WAY off the front. Near the end of lap one, troy got tired of following and took the front, I was quit content to sit on him, as I new he was super strong from previous years at Moosecross. He put in a few digs, but I stayed glued to his wheel for a couple laps. He was faster through the double barrier/run up than I was, and eventually opened a tiny gap there. But, once he had the gap, he took advantage, and I was unable to close it. I dug deep, and tried to limit the loses, thinking he may fade near the end. I stayed close enough to apply pressure, and he eventually went down in one of the corners. This allowed me to close the gap a bit, and I continued to push hard. Troy fell again over the green monster, and when I overtook him, he told me he was done, broken derailleur. With Troy out, and the next rider maybe 2-3 minutes back, I was able to cruise the last couple laps and save a little for the 1/2/3 race later in the day. This ended up being my first ever cross victory. I've been close, but never got the W. I always joked that the only race I would ever win with knobby tires on the bike was the dirt crit in Helena. Since they aren't doing that race this year, I figured I might go win less. My goal is still to win one of the MT races, but damn, some of you guys are freaking strong, and I just don't know if I can make it happen. I will try though, oh, I will try.....Also, great ride by soccer dad Peter from Bozeman. He rode strong, and held on for fourth place. Way to go. He was then smart enough to get in his truck to drive back over the pass to watch the girl's next soccer game. OK, so we know he's smarter than me, but does that make him a better dad, too?
The 1/2/3 race didn't go so well. Troy was able to get his bike repaired, and apparently didn't want to toy around this time. He took the hole shot, and went HARD from the gun. I stayed glued to his wheel, but this time only for the first couple laps, then he was GONE! I cracked big time. I went from "this aint so bad, I can do this all day," to "holy crap, I think I'm gonna die" in about one minute. Instantly I was done, and basically soft pedalling around the course. It didn't take long for Dave Bergart from Victor to fly past me, and eventually another racer rolled easily by as well. I did find the strength to put in one last hard dig to keep fourth place, but all in all it was a pathetic showing on my part. I can only hope it was a product of a hard week of training and the hard riding that day, because I'm gonna have to be MUCH better to battle with the MT boys. Time will tell.....
I knew as I struggled to the finish line that I had a good ride ahead of me to get back to Jackson, and I was worried. I figured I could manage, but the thing that worried me was that I didn't have a lot of time before the sun went down. So, not only did I have to drag myself back over the pass, but I couldn't do it leisurely or I would be caught in the dark. I probably could have scored a ride back, but what fun would that be, and again, I'm not that smart. So I put my bottle cages back on and set off. Nice and easy. Ate some bars, drank some water, felt...ok, until the road went up. That was the hardest climb I have ever done. I seriously had to stop, lean over my handlebars, and cuss outloud about five times before finally cresting the top. I was cold and hungry. I think the bonk caught me about half way up, and I'm not sure if I've shaked it yet. I have never been so glad to be done climbing, never. I took a short break at the top, added some layers, took a few photo's, and wished I had some more food....
From there I pretty much had it whooped. A screaming, scary 5 mile 'cross tire darn near rolling off the rim descent, trying not to kill myself, but chasing the sun at the same time. Once off of the main descent, I was able to ride the final eight miles or so on a bike path. This allowed me to slow a bit, as darkness wasn't quit as big of an issue since I was off the highway, but I still had to get back before I couldn't see where I was headed. I rolled into the hotel/resort area just after dark. Tawnya and the kids hadn't made it back from dinner, so I was locked out of our hotel room, still cold, and still hungry. Luckily there was a gas station near by, with some much needed calories to bring me back from the brink. The gas station attendant asked me how long I had been riding. I said, "To long." To which he replied, "Ya, it looks like it." A Snickers bar and some chocolate milk never tasted so good. Eventually, the family showed up with some dinner for me. Tawnya asked how I enjoyed my ride back. I lied and told her it was great, but I don't think she believed me.
Turns out Mariah's team won game 2, and she scored two goals while I was being a bad dad and racing my bike. What can I say, it's a sickness. Tawnya said it was the best game her team had played. They were in the championship game for sure, but still had one more bracket game before that. Both games would be against the same team from Boise. Bozeman started strong, but you could quickly tell the girls were outmatched by the Boise team. Those Boise girls played some great soccer. The spread the field, passed with precision, and made our girls chase the whole game. Although Bozeman fought hard, they were beaten handily by the Boise squad. The girls had a couple hours to rest and think about what to do different, and then they had to play the same team for the championship. I'm not sure what changed, but the Bozeman girls battled hard and made a game of it. They were led by a super effort from Alla "The Wall" in goal, but all the girls contributed and fought hard to stay in the game and keep it close to the end, finally losing a close battle 4-1 after a couple late goals from the other team. Mariah scored the Bozeman goal, and hustled her little butt off trying to help her team. Even though they lost, that was a great team performance, and a blast to watch. Great job, girls.
Well, that was about the end of the trip, with the exception of some more less than fun car time on the way home. We all had a great time, and can't wait to go again next year (I think I'll bring more food on the ride next time!) Next up, right back to Victor, ID for Moosecross next weekend. I'm excited to try again, this time focusing on the 1/2/3 race, with no master race or Teton Pass to wear me out first, hope it makes a BIG difference!