Michelle and I drove down to Eau Claire, or as she likes to say, "You-Claire", "Oo-Claire" or "Eee-Claire". She refuses to pronounce it correctly to deny me the satisfaction of having taught her the correct pronunciation. I still correct her every time she mispronounces it and then I smile. I guess its a fun little game.
Arriving at about 1 pm, we headed directly to the race venue for a quick pre-ride. Michelle opted to sunbathe while I rode the course. I had raced this course a couple of times before, so I knew what was in store: a ton of fast, smooth, twisty, fun singletrack, very little climbing, and a couple of pretty serious rock gardens. Following the pre-ride, we immediately indulged in Panara Bread, picked up some needed cycling supplies, and checked into the hotel.
We rode our bikes 5 miles to the Northwood Brewery for dinner. The service was appalling, but the beer was delicious. We should ride to dinner more often.
In the morning I put together a couple of yummy bagels with cream cheese and mung bean sprouts, but my stomach was still calling for more, so I had a couple of blueberry muffins, some raisin bran, an orange and a bunch of coffee. I tried to find a bleed kit for my Avid brakes, which were seriously rubbing in the rear, but had no luck on a Sunday morning. I figured the extra work necessary to overcome the brake drag would help grow hair on my chest, so I gave up on fixing them.
After watching Lance lose Le Tour, we went out for more shopping. I succumbed to some clever marketing and ate a Cuban pork sandwich 1.5 hours before the race. As I ordered it, I said, "I could regret this decision". And I did. I burped constantly as I warmed up and seriously considered purging, but I knew that wouldn't make me feel all that great either. No matter, the race must go on.
I got my customary last row start (when will I learn to get to the start line early?) and was near the back of the pack going into the first corner. See me at about :26 in this video.
I made up some spots before the first section of singletrack, but had little to no hope of moving up much. I rode a pretty steady pace throughout the race picking up a spot here and there and getting into a group for a while, which really beats riding alone. I was happy to not surrender any positions in the last two laps, which is where I usually fall apart. I made it through Mr. Hyde (the nasty rock garden) 3 of 4 times. I dropped my chain in dramatic fashion the first time through, but killed it the other times. Its actually pretty fun...watch my arms act as suspension in this video:
So in summary, I got my ass kicked as usual, Michelle I had a wonderful trip and we're looking forward to the next trip, which will include a Brewers' game.
To Troy Meives, Jim Chapman (both fellow Sisu Cycles owners) and the rest of the volunteers who put on this race, NICE JOB. The course was fantastic! I'm already looking forward to it next year.