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Bonelli 2011

I don’t want to jinx myself too much, but it’s pretty absurd what luck I have when it comes to car troubles. Aside from the fact that I don’t tend to have car troubles in the first place, the ones that do inevitably strike are always surprisingly convenient.

It started when I was seventeen and car camping at Tour of the Gila; our battery died due to excessive techno blasting, but the local shop gave us a new one and installed it for free. When my clutch cable went out a few years later, it happened right as I was pulling into my driveway (which greatly confused the towing company).  Even my accident last week occurred literally just a few yards from a shop. Sure, things are pricy and annoying to fix, but (knock-on-wood) I’ve never really been stranded alone somewhere with a dead vehicle. That’s why I wasn’t entirely shocked to see where I was when the dreaded oil light came on last Friday- Corona, the nearest town I could roll down to in semi-neutral, appeared to be devoted to only three things: nail salons, Thai/Mexican food, and car shops.

It was an unplanned detour en route to my preride, but what are ya going to do? I pulled into a Meineke employed by a bunch of guys all named George, got my car checked in, and set off on my bike in search of coffee. I rode for more than ten blocks but found only more car shops, more thai food, and more nail salons. Seriously.

So I went back to the shop to hang out in the shade, and ended up talking with a cool guy named Fred who told me how he had creatively altered the top tube of this bike (“just bent it like…this”) in order to accommodate his stronger leg. Of course I found the bike person in Corona.

When I finally made it to the venue, my preride went horribly. I was dehydrated, my legs were totally unresponsive, and the course seemed unremarkable. I did two laps; one very slowly and one kind of fast, and then struggled just to spin on the road for another fifteen minutes. Nothing in my body seemed keen to rally so I packed up (barely more than an hour after arriving) and began the journey home, which was no small feat in California traffic. To say the least I was feeling grim about the race, despite meeting the Georges and Fred.

Yet I went to bed that night surrounded by a bubble of insistent positivity. First the Manns fed me an incredible steak, vegetable and quinoa dinner, and then I’d gotten a bunch of good-luck wishes from friends and family. My spankin-new

Mannimalizing my wheel weight

bike was not only in my possession but dialed and more than a pound lighter- all due almost entirely to people who are not me. Yep, as I went to bed that night I felt about as loved as supported as I think it’s possible to feel. It was really cool, and miraculously, when I started pedaling yesterday morning, I knew it was going to be one of those come-together days.

If you follow my blog at all you know I’ve struggled with injuries and health and a straight-up bad attitude for over a year. The last time I was in Bonelli it was just to watch and feed my friends. I was fresh off shoulder surgery, out of shape, and wishing I could ride but knowing I wasn’t ready. I’ve since slogged through race after horrible race, often barely finishing; rarely enjoying anything about it. It’s been rough, to say the least, but yesterday, back at Bonelli once again, the switch flipped and I finally found my long-lost race mode.

It was the first time I'd ever even seen most of these girls during a race...

I don’t really remember much about the race, but I can tell you that every single pedal stroke felt worthwhile. After the first lap I was riding comfortably in 12th and mainly just wondering what was going on; how was I not bleeding out the eyes? I wasn’t going to examine the issue too thoroughly- instead I chugged water, crammed shotblocks down my neck and just focused on passing people, eventually finishing 10th. Maybe skiing all winter wasn’t such a big mistake after all…

So there you have it. My first top ten at a big event, and looking forward to the next one! A big ol’ thanks to everyone who went the extra mile for me this weekend… I’m realizing more than ever how much I need you people- and not just for food and bike parts.

Here are a few more pics of the weekend:

Stephen got 10th as well... must be a Montana thing.


Justin's race started practically in the dark...

cool drop

Justin on his way to the big W

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