Thursday, October 19, 2006

Drive In, Drive Out

The other day a bunch of us were working on getting the course set up for Granogue this weekend. In the process of doing so, a low hanging branch needed to be removed to keep from decapitate people as the rode by. After cutting it down, it needed to be disposed of. Someone suggested to use the truck to take it down by the woods. This is where my story begins.
So James and Dan are cutting up the branch into smaller pieces when they ask who can drive stick, as the truck is stick. I reply "I can". Silly Silly me.
Though yes I can drive stick, and my car is a stick, I quickly found out there is a big difference in driving my little mini and driving a big huge industrial truck. For one, when I got in it was a bench seat. This was my first clue there may be a problem. I moved the seat as far forward as it would go and I still wasn't even close to reaching the pedals. So I grabbed someone's back pack that was in the truck and stuck it behind my back to make it so I could reach. No problem. So I start it up, find first, which was also a little funky, and then drive over to where James and Dan are waiting to load the branch. It wasn't bad, I had to ride the clutch a bit, but it went ok.
We all load the branches into the truck and then it's time to pull out. James gets in with me and Dan suggests riding on the back. I say no way, I don't want to throw him off or anything by accident. So he walked over. It was a little jumpy at first but we were ok, I pulled over to the treeline and stopped and we unloaded the branches. Then we had to go back up. Getting down the hill wasn't bad, going back up was another story.
James tried not to ride back with me and I told him I didn't want to drive by myself. So James reluctantly got back in the truck and immediately put on his seatbelt. I pull out and try to turn around in the grass, but there was a big ditch and I wasn't sure how a big heavy truck would take that and I didn't want to get it stuck. So we decided to go down to more level ground. On our way down the hill we spy a black cat crossing the road, so we decide we're not going all the way down, we'll try turning around midway. It was semi-flat on the sides, so I could get it turned around and we're now headed straight back up the hill. I try to take off a couple times to no avail. We just kept going backwards. I couldn't get the clutch to catch before we were rolling too much. We give up and decide to call for help. James pulls out the walkie talkie and tries calling Marc. No answer. Then he tries Tom. Still silence. Crap. We're on our own. James comments that if I had three legs I'd be ok. One for the clutch, one for the brake and then one for the gas. Since we were stuck, we decided to try it. James manages to get his leg over around the gear shift to reach the gas as I hold the clutch and the brake. Then I'm giving him instruction on how much gas to give it and to watch the RPM's so we can get it moving. He guns it, we lurch forward, too much gas, I had to stop. We try again, we start jumping again, I tell him I just need to get it to second and we'll be ok. He says "I have to get my leg out". I see him moving out of the corner of my eye, but I can't see what he's doing. I can't wait anymore. We're lurching too much, I slam it into 2nd. It smoothes out and we're driving back up the hill. By this time I'm laughing so hard tears are coming down my face. That's when I look down and notice James never got his leg moved. I had it pinned between the gear shift and the seat. He just sat there calmly not saying anything. He just said keep driving. We get back up and we decide we won't mention all the problems we had, we'll keep it to ourselves. As soon as I pull the truck to a stop and take it out of gear so James is free, he jumps out and runs over to Marc and tells him what happened. So much for not telling anyone of our difficulties. It was funny though. Luckily all worked out. However, I have no plans on driving any large utility vehicles anytime soon.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Don't Burn the Pig

Yesterday was a good full day. It began at 5:45am and didn't end until after 1am. We got up early and headed out to Micheaux for the Iron Cross Lite. This was the longest distance we've traveled for a race at this point. I had been kinda back and forth about going to this one all week. This would be the 4th week in a row of racing, and it's so far away. I hit a point earlier in the week where I was having a fit that there seems to be nothing else we do lately but work, ride and sleep. But we went. It was a good ride out. We got there actually a little early compared to previous races where we arrived with less than an hour to my start. It was really cold. There was a heavy frost on everything. They seem to be a little ahead of us in fall foliage too. Everything was so colorful and pretty. So I got ready and raced.
It was not my day. The course started on a long fireroad that was a slight rise, then you made the bend and it just got steep. On a mountain bike no problem, I'd have plenty of gears, but on my cross bike, oye! I just kept searching for more as I ground my way up every lap. It went into a hairpin at the top, a fast descent into another turn about and back up again, and then again, three climbs very close together. I was very grumpy. But I chugged on. There was a nice piece of single track through the woods on the back side and then repeat the climbs. Of course there was the death spiral they were oh so proud of. It was kinda cool. You could only get so much speed through the maze of turns, so I could recover a bit as I worked my way around it, but it was very frustrating cause I could see the people I was trying to catch and they were oh so close, but in actuality they were further along in the maze. Just a big tease.
So anyway, I was DFL for the majority of the race. On my last lap I was able to catch one girl, so I finished second from last. Oh well. It was fun, just not a good day.
Poor Marc decided to become up close and personal with a tree on his second lap, so it was a short day for him. We headed out after his race determined to have a shorter day this week. The prior weeks we had been there from start to finish as my race is the first race and Wes's is the last. But this week we were going to try to get back at a decent hour. Well we got lost on the way home, so we didn't get home until a little later than expected, but it turned out ok.
The highlight of the day was the evening. Wes, Ethan, Rick, Rob, Liz, Yan and Marc watched movies, drank beer, and ate food, while Amy and I carved up some pumpkins that Marc and I had picked up from some Amish farm on the way home. It was a very nice and relaxing evening. We got to kick back, hang out and just have some quiet fun. I needed that.

Here is a picture of the death spiral.

Tom and Leo through the barriers.

This is crazy Layla. Here she's thinking, "mmm, what can I get into next?"

Ah, the evidence. Looks like Layla snacked on Amy's beef jerky.

FFA rocking out as we carve pumpkins.

Here are the result of our fine craftmanship.