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Pieces of Flair

This time last year there was already snow on the ground. We’d had a week of that death-cold that makes you want to hibernate permanently, and the leaves had all died on the trees without changing, leaving their little husks hanging up there like dead mice. Everything was crap as far as I was concerned.
Not so this year- right now I’m distracted by the riot of changing leaves outside, and the sky is burning my retinas with blueness. We’re eating rainbow chard from the farmer’s market, going to some classes, and camping every weekend. I’m finally living in the Bozeman I signed up for with this college thing, and it’s great!
I’m also apparently an adult now, though I wouldn’t say I’ve been behaving like one. The first thing I bought was a box of Bandit wine and things kind of just went downhill from there. You’d be surprised at how much everyone wanted to help me ring in the new year downtown on a Monday night…
Perhaps bigger news is the success of MSU’s first official mountain bike race. We handed out over 75 numbers, along with three gold-painted rocks, three gold-painted lemons, six t-shirts, one gold-painted dinosaur, and one UFC-inspired children’s wrestling belt. Which is what happens when I get left in charge of prizes. Yet aside from these (considerable) material gains, there was also tremendous personal growth to be had from the racing this weekend. In just three days I learned that:

Sometimes it’s ok to look obnoxiously girly.
I spend most of my season (and thus most of my life) wearing spandex clothes that say either “Tokyo Joe’s” or “USA” on them. It gets monotonous, so in honor of the end of the season, I ditched my usual race costume and tied some pieces of flair to myself instead. No one made fun of me- at least to my face.

When you think you can’t ride anymore, you’re always wrong.
After a frantic morning spent gathering prizes on about two hours of sleep, I wasn’t exactly in a head space to race the cross country. But, like I said, I tied on some pieces of flair and ended up riding my face off. Then I went home and fell asleep in a huge puddle of drool. When I woke up my roommate and some pals were riding, so I went out again. For five hours. My body was confused/angry.

Fire roads suck.
They do! They just go on and on. You always think the next switchback is the end or the landmark you’ve been working towards, but it almost never is. The first time I ever bonked was on a fire road, and I’ve only come to loath them more ever since. It’s definitely an exclusive fireroad thing too- I’ve never experienced that sort of twilight-zone switchback phenomenon on normal paved roads. Normal paved roads kind of suck too, but not as much as fire roads.

Super D provides a good opportunity to break out the flannel and denim.
For some reason the idea of putting on a chamois on Sunday morning made me super nauseous, so I didn’t. Instead I raced in my jeans and a plaid shirt. Its likely that this made me at least 4x faster than usual.

Dangling golf balls from your seat isn’t a great idea.
Instead of providing leader’s jerseys, we required all the XC winners to tie a pair of golf balls, nestled in a panty hose sack, to their seat posts for the Super D. (Part two of what happens when you leave me in charge of prizes) They looked frighteningly realistic but, true to the name of the event (Bangtail Ballbuster) almost all of them busted mid-race, causing golf balls to careen off carbon frames and litter the trail. Don’t worry, we picked them up later.

I think it’s especially cool to note the resurgence of interest in mountain biking here in Montana. The race was attended by representatives from twelve schools, and everyone (I hope) had a blast racing some great local trails. With all the ground we’ve lost in the last year to wilderness laws, it’s super cool to see people rallying for some mountain bike fun!

So here’s to changing leaves, dropping temps, and a little less structure.

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