I raced last year and really enjoyed the unseasonably warm temps in the 50's after volunteering in the previous year's 30 degree weather. The 2012 edition of the 8-hour had even better weather, though. I think the temperature started in the mid 50's and ended near 70. It was a crazy nice day to spend sitting in the woods. I'd planned to get there plenty early so I could visit with all of my friends who were racing, but being me was lucky to pull in about a half hour before the race start. I still had time to say hi to most everyone I knew (priorities, you know), and while it was a little nice to feel so relaxed about my day, I was also a little sad not to be racing.
|ROCK Racing before the start|
|I defy you to ever find a cooler race bib holder.|
|The Pfast and the Pfurious on the first trekking leg (taken from my car as we drove).|
|More teams coming our way|
|Our spot before the "storm"|
Because our checkpoint was pretty early in the race it gave us the opportunity to see everyone racing and for me, at least, gave the chance to experience a much different side of the sport than I normally do. We're a pretty mid-pack team at best most days (at least when the guys race with me!), so it was really interesting to watch the way the top teams transitioned and interacted.
It was also a little stressful, too. Obviously the fastest teams are the first ones to arrive, so I wasn't in any kind of a rhythm when they got there. People who are truly racing to win don't seem to appreciate you fumbling with the punch and finding the correct box to punch at anything less than the speed of light.
The first teams were in and out of our checkpoint like lightning, grabbing food and eating on the go, some not bothering to change out of their bike shoes for the short (~2 mi) trek. Some were mighty abrupt with each other, too. I guess a combination of pressure, highly competitive people, and having raced together long enough to not tiptoe around each other will do that, but the middle of the pack sure feels friendlier!
|Another shot of our area. Teams coming from behind where I was standing, the trail to the right led to the o-course, and the trail to the left led uphill and away when teams finished their bonus map.|
|Mark of team Kuat (makers of the best bike racks ever) transitioning.|
|Sadly, I didn't manage to get a picture of myself in the super flattering vest.|
|Our area is getting busier|
Joe and Bill of Iowa Wolfpack, who I never managed to get in the same picture (sorry!)
|The Hoosier Daddies nemeses, the Knuckleheads|
|Emily and the Pfast and the Pfurious|
Chuck and Patrick from ROCK Racing
|Mapping the Miles|
|Vanessa and Cory do a quick map check.|
|3/4 of Orange Lederhosen...still the best kits I've ever seen|
|Trevor and Jerod|
|ROCK Racing girls|
"No, no!" I'd tell them, "It's a BONUS, it's like more race for your money! Yea!!"
One of those teams came back and told me, "We were cursing your name for talking us into doing that leg...but we didn't know your name."
"Shelly," I told them. "My name is Shelly."
"Damn you, Shelly!" they called as they rode away.
|With as much as bikes cost, we were babysitting a lot of money out there!|
Though Dave and I were meticulous about writing down teams and times to the point where it was a little comical (I'd say the number, he'd write it down, I'd ask, "Did you get team number XXX" at least once), we had a couple potential mistakes. I mentioned this to Gary during one of his calls and he reassured me, "It's OK, you'll know when everyone is gone because there won't be any bikes left...make sure you don't count yours!"
So simple. So smart. And I was so completely oblivious to the fact until he said it. Because one team had skipped the o-course without telling us and we'd missed signing another out, we might have been pretty confused without Gary's knowledge bomb. As it was, eventually all the bikes were gone and our job was done. We packed up, loaded up, got on our bikes...and promptly got lost.
Not super lost, but we didn't get straight back to our cars by any means and ended up having to jump onto the road rather than wander around longer on the bike trail. Actually, it was a great day to spend some time wandering on the bike trails, but we had stuff to get back to race HQ and I was realizing anew the benefits of padded bike shorts over super thin running capris. Despite our navigational challenges on the bike, Dave led us straight back to Castlewood, where I spent the rest of the afternoon eating pizza, visiting with friends, and writing down the numbers of teams as they finished.
All in all, a pretty nice way to spend the day.
|The "best" picture of me from the day. I think I'm trying to catch the number of a team that just finished. Incidentally, thanks to my "cherry chocolate" hair coloring, my sweatshirt more or less matched the highlights in my hair.|