My second of two major reports I’m writing for my day job is due today. So, today’s post is going to be first draft, brief, and mostly pictures. And I don’t have time to sit and stare at the screen, thinking of a clever and quite possibly metaphorical opening. So: this was my opening paragraph. I apologize.
The thing is, though, I did want to post, because I did something really cool last weekend: I actually volunteered at a race.
Yes, that’s right. I went to a race, and — instead of racing — I helped out.
It’s possible that part of the reason I volunteered at this race — the second time I have done so in my whole life — is because it was a NICA high school MTB race, which means that I am roughly three times the age of the average participant.
Part of the other reason is that — like a lot of people — I’ve been inspired by the movie Singletrack High, and I wanted to help.
And I’m not the only one in the family to get inspired by that film. When we were in Leadville, The Swimmer went to a screening of the movie with us, and — as soon as we got home — she signed up for the MTB team.
So this is the story of our first NICA race. A little bit about The Swimmer, and a little about me.
Before the Race
What astonished me when we arrived at the parking lot near Corner Canyon, where the race would be held, was how many people were there. 500 racers, most with family.
I get the sense that mountain biking is going to be seeing a massive surge in popularity in the next few years.
The Swimmer went to find her team, I went to the volunteer tent, and The Hammer went to go buy waffles at the Saturday’s Waffle stand. She got The Benny (a poached egg, lemon hollandaise sauce and a giant pile of bacon pieces on top of a waffle) for me, and now I’m a fan.
I had signed up to be a course marshal, but when I got to the tent they asked me if I’d be a roving marshal instead: basically, ride my bike around a certain portion of the course, looking for anything that’s amiss.
I said I’d be happy to, and they gave me a “Roving Marshal” race plate, a walkie talkie, a first aid kit, and an awesome bright orange vest.
I look rather fetching, if I do say so myself. Though I probably would’ve worn something different if I’d known I was going to be on the bike all day (But yes, I did have a helmet and bike shoes with me…I always have a helmet and bike shoes with me.).
During The Race
Shortly before the race began, I headed out onto my section of the course and began my routine. I’d ride for a while ’til I found a spot that had a good view of a big chunk of the course, then I’d stop, pull my cowbell out of my backpack, and cheer the racers on.
Of course, I may have been guilty of cheering The Swimmer on a little extra.
The Swimmer was racing in the JV group of girls: about thirty of them. This would be her first mountain bike race, ever, so really this was just for experience. A chance to find out what mountain bike racing is like.
And so I should not have been surprised — she is, after all, The Hammer’s daughter — when she came flying by me at the beginning of the first lap…in second place.
I let the rest of her wave go by, cheered on the next wave of girls (Freshman, I think?), then picked up my stuff and went course patrolling, looking for things that needed looking after.
Nothing needed looking after. Everything was fine.
After a while I found a good new place to stop for a while and cheer kids on.
The Swimmer was holding on to her second-place position, which I texted to The Hammer, who was volunteering in the feed zone.
Then — and I’m working from third-hand information here, so may not have the details right — The Swimmer crashed. Specifically, at the end of the lap racers go through a tunnel, at the end of which there is running water, because of all the rain we’ve had recently. The Swimmer went to corner out of the tunnel, slid out, and then slid into the water.
Making her muddy, bloody, and soaked, all in one instant.
She hopped back on her bike and charged out. She came into a corner too hot, found out too late that her brakes were still wet, and crashed again.
She then crashed a third time, but honestly at this point I can’t keep track of where or how. The point is, she kept crashing, but kept getting back on and going.
Naturally, she lost a couple places with all those wrecks, but still finished in fourth place in her category.
That’s an incredibly impressive feat for a first race, especially since she hadn’t been on a bike since she crashed out of the Half Ironman about a month ago.
So here’s the damage:
Which makes me think. I don’t really believe “The Swimmer” is a good nickname for The Hammer’s daughter anymore.
I hereby dub her…Scar.
Don’t worry too much about all that mud and blood, by the way. Here she is three hours later:
Her first MTB race, three crashes, and then Homecoming.
PS: Scar has been mountain biking twice since the race. She has crashed both times.