June 18, 1994
"I Made The Grade" bicycle race

 Sometimes I start to wonder
Why all the world ain't flat>>>
Why do we need to rise above
To show us where we were at?>>>
When standing down below
I want to take the peak>>>
When standing up above
I find it hard to speak>>>
This is the same hill that the Twin Rivers Cycling Classic finished on just weeks earlier. It was called the "I Made The Grade" bicycle race, and according to Mitch, it was perfect for me. I left home at 4am and drove to Lewiston, Idaho to race with Mitch, Alex, and Dan Brown.

The race was only 18 miles long, with a ten-mile flat, non-technical start, then an eight mile climb up the 2000+ foot Lewiston Grade (also known as the Spiral Highway). At approximately 7am, six-hundred riders blasted out of the Chief Timothy Park, and for the first 10 miles the pack was averaging 28 miles an hour. Although it would have been fairly easy to stay in the draft of 600 screaming cyclists (they leave quite a smelly wake), I was at or near the front the whole time, to be in position when the climb started, and to avoid being in a 100-bicycle pile-up, which can happen with just a touch of wheels. The pack was flying like a runaway train. There were some who thought they were in a rodeo and kept screaming,"YeeeHawww!!!" scaring the crap out of me. Why didn't I bring my mace? Must be an Idaho thing. I was saving my shrill screams for the finish or when I was run over by 600 bicycles in a crash.

I nearly ran over a traffic cone at 30 miles an hour, and Alex, behind me, smacked it. I heard the 'thump!' behind me, but he didn't go down. The incessant buzz of being in the middle of a pack of riders makes you feel like you're the queen bee, and it's bee mating season. The trick is to stay as close to the other bees as possible without getting stung.

Mitch, who was sick with a cold, said he was riding the race to get well (huh?). He'd been riding ahead of me because he's a master at positioning, where me, I'm afraid of crashing and go on gutts and stupidity. He drifted to the left and stuck his arm out. Knowing Mitch, I thought he was trying to give me a sign from the front to attack, or, well, maybe just to pray (he was a Mormon...maybe he wanted to save someone in the pack), so I moved out to look forward and see what was up. What was up is Mitch was blowing his nose, and as I gazed forward, I was nailed with it. He'd actually stuck his arm out as a warning for everyone to move out from behind him. I'll keep that in mind next time someone yells,"Duck!" and I'm looking for pate'.

At the end of the flat section there was a 90 degree left turn, a rise over a short bridge crossing, and an immediate 90 degree right turn at the bottom of the hill. I didn't want to take this turn with 600 riders all around me, going flat-out, so I initiated a breakaway with Cathy, and we spun off the front just before the bridge. We took the turns and the bridge in the lead, and then the road angled sharply upward. The photos to the right aren't mine--they're taken from the Spiral Highway by Ratdog. I didn't shoot photos while I was racing...

The initial ten miles at that speed had stiffened my legs and slowed me on the climb. I was at or near the front the whole time and worked very hard to reach the climb first. There were two riders in front of me, and I'd pass them, slow down, they'd pass me, and then I'd come back. Unfortunately, I was not able to pass them back before the finish. I reached the finish in 56 minutes, 46 seconds, placing 20th out of 600 riders. Dan Brown was the only team member to best me.

A professional photographer took the bottom photo near the finish line. I'm wearing the Baddlands Bicycle club jersey I borrowed from Mitch. The guy pulling the baby trailer is not in the race (but perhaps the baby is?).

After the team shook hands (and wandered where Mitch was), I sped back down the climb on a nearby highway, because clouds began rolling in, and I know how cranky Miimii gets when I'm away too long for a bicycle race.

Unknown to me, the team took another team-photo at the top, with Mitch this time, but without me. Apparently I didn't get the memo. As a result, I never got a photo of the team I belonged to in 1994.

With the highest peak always getting higher, without God's peace, I'm always tired>>>
June 18, 1994

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