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18 December 2013 @ 01:26 pm
Ice Weasels Race Report  
Ugh. That's my winter word. I'm currently sitting in Tupelo, MS, birthplace of Elvis. Did you know he survived a tornado when he was a kid? Well I survived Ice Weasels Cometh. Yeah, that's right.

I've been meaning to get into this whole "cyclocross thing" for several years now, but didn't have the right bike/chickened out. But now I have a rad bike. In fact, when I was pulling over to the side of the course after getting lapped, one rider yelled out, "You have the coolest bike here!" True story.



So now I have the right bike. Singular. Not bikes. We'll get to that in a minute.

When I found out that Ice Weasels was changing venues and coming to my hometown I thought, "awesome!" Until I saw the date and I thought, "Damn." I was scheduled to work that day. But the night before the race I got the good news: home standby. That means I didn't have to fly unless they called me in, in which case I'd have two hours to get to work. I could race and shower and get to the airport in two hours, right? Sure.

As usual, I was running late. I hadn't pre-registered or anything, so I got to the large field in the part of Rowley that I had never been to before and signed up. A few minutes after pinning on my number I was at the start line. Callups were by bib number. "What's my number?" "Uhhh, 431, what's mine?" That was the scene at the start of the beginners race. I was at the back of a pretty big field, which included at least one fat guy on a fat bike, one skinny guy on a fat bike, and several mountain bikes. It turns out, I think those guys were the smart ones. The course was absolutely frozen and about 90% off camber.

Colin told us to go and to not crash into each other on the first turn. We followed those instructions, and despite our newness to the sport, we were successful. The first lap was a familiarization lap for me. Crushed clam shell road, fire pit, frozen grass, abandoned vehicles, log hops, crazy off camber washboard downhill, five yards of straight singletrack, short stepups which were totally ridable, and one huge frozen runup covered in dead leaves and snow. Cool. I can do this.

Except when I couldn't.

By the end of the first lap my fingers were entirely frozen. I had doubled up on the gloves, even using a neoprene outer glove to keep all the heat I could. My fingers wouldn't move. Part way through the second lap they started to thaw out--painfully. Very painfully. Did you ever shovel snow as a kid and have your fingers go white, so you tried to warm them up under hot water? It's like the opposite of an ice cream headache. But similar. In your fingers. Anyway, I did about a lap of waving to spectators, other racers, and ghosts in the trees while I tried to get the use of my hands back.

I could feel and hear my rim bouncing off of each frozen bump on the course. I'm not cool enough to ride tubulars, so I run an improvised tubeless setup. I'd never had a flat before. (Foreshadowing) All the other riders seemed to be a little better at this pedaling thing than I was, but I could beat anyone up that damn runup, albeit with a pegged heart rate at the top. Still, people were getting away from me. I had to do something. On the frozen grassy section I gunned it, trying to catch that dude on a 29er who passed me a little while back. Just as I started to make a turn through a little chicane, my front wheel decided that it was a good time for me to lay down and take a nap. My bike went right out from under me and I was on the ground before you could say "ouch!" There was a dude cooking something on a grill, watching the whole thing. Obviously I didn't want to look bad, so I got right up and hopped back on the bike. He gave me words of encouragement, but not a hamburger handup.



So I think that's where my tire went flat. I tried riding in a bit, but it was useless on the slanted frozen ground. I shouldered the bike (good thing I had practiced that a little the day before) and ran with it for a while. That sucked. So I put it down and tried riding again. That sucked too. I didn't have a bike in the pit to swap onto. So I saw my car, rode straight to that, got in, and went home.

But that's not the end of my race. Well, it was the end of that one, but I signed up for two races. It was about 10:30 and the next one started at 11:30. Once I got home I furiously tried to reseat the tire on the rim. With a lot of soap and water and a lot of spilled Stan's, it finally popped into place. Then I went about getting my old Giant mountain bike prepped as a pit bike. Ditched the bottle cages, put some air in the tires, and dusted it off. It was only 11:05. Perfect. I raced back to the... race.

My two bikes and I arrived with about five minutes to spare. My fingers were cooling off but still kinda clammy, so that was good. I put my Giant in the pit and got lined up to race. That's when Colin announced that this Killer B (intermediate? Cat 3?) men's race field would also include one lady: Crystal Anthony. Welp, there went my chances of not getting lapped.

Off we went. At the barriers next to the heated beer/cupcake/cookie/registration tent is where most of the spectators and thus, most of the handups were. There were donuts on the first lap, which I missed, and beer on the rest of the laps. I would have LOVED a beer, but like I said, I was on standby for work. By the third lap I was all alone off the back and the handup givers became more aggressive. "This will help you finish!" they implored. "I have to fly a plane later!" I shouted back as I ran over the barriers.

It was cold. And now it was snowing. Fluffy snow on an iced over and frozen course. I slowed down. I figured I was probably in last place, so what was the harm? Surprisingly, Crystal wasn't the first one to lap me. Some other dude did. But she was hot on his heels. I tried to limit my snot rocket shooting until after the fast people passed me. Oh, by the way, my rockets on the right side were kinda brownish-red. Bloody snot rockets. I'd like to think that they were an indicator of how haaahd I was pushing it.



After I exited that race, I went straight to the food truck for a hot burger. It might have been the best one of my life. It was at least in the top three of this year, and if you know how many burgers I eat, you know that this means something. Since I still couldn't drink beer, I went and fed my other weakness. I bought two cookies and a cupcake from the people trying to raise money to go race in Europe during Christmas week.

The women's race had just started, so I went out and watched that for a bit. They were rad. A lot of them dressed up in costume. The party was really just getting going, but then so was the feeling in my toes. The snow started falling harder, so I figured I'd go take a hot shower before my Honda got stuck in a snow bank somewhere. Sounds like I missed a really good raucous affair, though.



She stayed warm by pounding lots of beer handups. There may have been other handups later that were not appropriate for young audiences. #didldohandupsarenotacrime I wasn't there to see this, though. I was nursing my road rash and taking a very long, very hot shower.
 
 
 
Forrestelforresto on December 31st, 2013 04:30 am (UTC)
Thanks! Ice Weasels is the colder version of Night Weasels and the cousin of Gnar Weasels, as far as I can tell. Colin of Crossresults.com and Thom of Dirtwire.tv put it on, along with some other people, I believe.

After a little research, it looks like silicon "freezes" at 1413˚C, and boils at 3265˚C. I think everyone agreed that she was hot, but not THAT hot. Some boobs are made of saline, though, and saline solutions can freeze anywhere between -2 to -21˚C. So yeah, it was about that cold. Also, it looks like even a good strong beer freezes at about -4˚C, so I guess that didn't help much either. I'm a nerd.

CX season might be over, but Fatbike season has just begun! Now if only I had one of those too...