**This also serves as my race report for XLMIC's Jingle Bell Hell virtual race. I don't want to hear any complaining that a bike race shouldn't count, either, because I checked the rules and nowhere does it say that you have to RUN.
|See? No running specified. :)|
- At least 5K: I think it was around 25 miles.
- Challenging: definitely. Running across sand, carrying a bike up 200 stairs, riding while drinking beer...
- Done Dec. 18
- Laughed: many times
I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!It all started innocently enough, as these things do, with a question. My 8 year old asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I answered. (No, it wasn't a Red Ryder BB Gun.) His response was cute, so I posted it on Facebook.
One of the responses suggested I might get a cowbell hookup if I showed up on Sunday. What's Sunday, I asked. The answer: "CXMAS...duh." (Just click the link. Please.) Now, of course I'd heard of CXMAS, Team Seagal's epic non-race. I'd already read the race reports from previous years...but still channeling the nerdy high school self who never showed up at the cool kids' parties, I hadn't imagined actually going.
I was intimidated. I was nervous. I was confused about which parking lot. Not only did they tell me about it, though; Jim and Wendy also made sure I knew where to go. How could I skip it? Even having read the reports, though, I wasn't sure what to expect from the day.
What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? The Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child's play compared to what surely awaited me.Knowing that holiday spirit should be on full display, I next set to creating a Christmas-y outift to wear. I wanted to dress like Mrs. Claus, but since I'm always catching my chamois on my bike seat, I definitely didn't want a skirt. An apron, though...that might do the trick. Conveniently, because I make our Halloween costumes, I actually had everything I needed to whip up a Mrs. Santa apron.
|Photo credit: Wendy Davis|
I left in plenty of time, thankfully, because despite having good directions I managed to get a little lost. I made it with about 15 minutes to spare and quickly pulled on the panties and apron that I had opted not to wear into the gas station along the way (I got enough weird looks with just the socks). Unlike previous years where the temperature was below 10 degrees, it was around 50 today, so I ended up taking off one of my shirts and the arm warmers. If I was originally a little self-conscious about my outfit, that feeling evaporated as soon as I looked around. My outfit was pretty tame compared to other non-racers, and my underwear certainly wasn't the only pair on display. I did a lot of laughing at the costumes on display.
Downtown HammondTeam Seagal was preparing for this yearly baccanalia of peace on Earth and goodwill to men.
|Like this one...|
|Or, yeah, this. No competing with this.|
|Listening to pre-non-race directions|
The [pace]lineWe turned off the bike trail and onto the fairly steep grassy hill that led from the overpass to the road below. The girl in front of me clipped out to walk, but I was comfortable with riding it. Wendy told me later that they had all watched to see if I would ride it; honestly, walking it never occurred to me. We followed the road to Creve Coeur Park and continued on the paved trails there. I'm sure that the people we all passed were very curious about all these crazy people in the wacky holiday clothes.
waiting to see Santa Clausstretched all the way back to Terre HauteSt. Charles. And I was at the end of it.
"He looks like a derangedOur first CX-style obstacle (I guess) was in the park. We took a brief detour onto a gravel trail. A ditch that was maybe a foot wide and 18 inches deep (? totally guessing here) crossed the trail. The line I was in slowed as a guy wheeled his bike past us with a tacoed wheel. That's a lousy way to end your race. We dismounted, crossed the ditch, and headed back down the trail.
"Dadgummit! Blow out!"
...the Old Man loved it. He had always pictured himself in the pits of the Indianapolis Speedway in the [Little] 500. My old man's apare tires were actually only tires in the academic sense. They were round, they had once been made of rubber.More riding on the paved trails around the lake until we came out by the beach, where we had to ride (or run) our bikes through the sand to get our first (and my only--since there were only 40 or so at each, if you weren't in the first 40 riders, no zip tie for you) zip tie.
Hoping that my gigantic mountain bike tires would allow me to ride through the sand, I didn't dismount at first, but the slow progress really wasn't worth the effort, so I pushed my bike the rest of the way. As I staggered through the sand, I was feeling a little apprehensive. I'd ridden this area on a Trailnet ride a couple of years ago, and I was pretty sure I remembered a huge, endless hill that we'd ridden up...just the kind of thing that these twisted minds would impose on us.
My little brother had not eaten voluntarily in over three years.
|Photo credit: Team Seagal|
In the heat of battle"Ok," she told me, "unless you're really hardcore [she reads this blog, she knows I'm not], why don't we switch bikes for the trip up the stairs. I'll carry your mountain bike, and you can carry my lighter cross bike." I'm not too proud to accept help when I clearly need it. I lifted her bike, and looked up at 200 concrete stairs. Suddenly riding up the big hill didn't seem like such a bad option.
my fathershe wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over Lake Michiganthe Missouri River.
|That's not me, but it is my bike.|
Carrying a bike--any bike--up 200 stairs: more hell.
I just hoped Flick would never spot them as word of this humiliation could make life at G. Harding School a veritable Hell.
At the top of the stairs, it was back on the park roads and around to a playground, where we had to dismount, go down a slide, and eat some R-rated donuts before riding down a steep gravel hill. I remembered all the hill advice I've gotten and made sure to get my butt up and almost behind my seat, then I eased my way down the hill. From here it was back along the lake, across the bridge, and onto the Katy Trail, parts of which were pretty sloppy. As we rode towards the Family Arena, riders passed us in the other direction carrying gigantic wrapped boxes.
"All right, I'll get that kid toAt the box station was none other than Jim Davis, who chased me down and forced me to take a beer. :) I think he felt it was his personal duty after I'd told him earlier that I wasn't good at riding and drinking (that goes for drinking anything, not just drinking. I'm just not all that coordinated). Despite having one hand full and trying to navigate the soggy trail, I managed to not fall off my bike. Though Kube was ahead of me in the distance, I did manage to pass a guy who was also riding a mountain bike. "I'm glad I'm on my mountain bike," I told him, "because otherwise I'd have to come up with another reason for feeling so bad." He laughed, and I didn't see him again until we were heading onto the singletrack at Bangert Island.
eatdrink. Where's my screw driver and my plumber's helper? I'll open up his mount and I'll shovepour it in."
The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, ALL GONE!Wendy is always telling me to stop being overly nice and letting people go ahead of me, and maybe I finally learned my lesson. At the trailhead, some riders were coming out of the singletrack, so I waited to let them by before riding in. In the meantime, the guy I'd passed came up behind me. "Why don't you go ahead," I suggested. He did, and so he got the very last CXMAS spoke card! I was definitely disappointed but figured it would just be added incentive for me to ride faster next year.
The Bangert trails were a lot of fun, though there were several really muddy low spots. It was interesting to try to figure out gearing in these areas, because if you stood in your pedals to get more power your back wheel would spin out. I made it through without crashing and, despite having never been on these trails, felt more in my element than during any other part of the race. For this section, my mountain bike was an asset.
I left Flick to certain annihilation. ButFrom Bangert, it was a straight shot back down the Katy to the finish line. Knowing that even I couldn't get myself lost for the remainder of the race, Kube took the opportunity to stretch her legs while I meandered behind. This time there was no part of the trail where I could avoid the soggy mess, so I just rode on through it, figuring that if I couldn't be fast at least I could be dirty.
BB gunrace mania knows no loyalty.
|Photo credit: Team Seagal|
It's a Major Award!
|Photo credit: Team Seagal|
How cool is that??? I met her that morning in the parking lot, and now she's giving me one of the prized spoke cards? Basically, the day was a whole bunch of awesome because of some really tenuous links to people: Wendy, who I blog stalk and had met...um...twice before the day; Jim and Kube, each of whom I'd met once; and Gabrielle, who I'd met that day. It's really a testament to the awesomeness and inclusiveness of endurance athletes combined with the internet's ability to help you get to know people you rarely see in person.
Now I have a year ahead of me to save up for a cross bike, design a contest-winning costume (though I think the answer there is probably more cleavage), and get into better shape so that at the next CXMAS I can earn my own spoke card and, hopefully, keep up with my riding partners.
And for a less PG-rated version of the day, check out Team Seagal's post about the day. Thanks to them for a fantastic, hilarious day. And for more pictures from the race, check out A Pabst Smear. See if you can find me.