Having spent the last 18 months in Chicago with zero mountain bike scene and certainly no mountain bike family like KSD or 331 racing, I was very much looking forward to our return to Ohio. During a Facebook exchange, the KSD God Father Kenny C suggested that the timeline for our return just so happened to correlate perfectly with "The Twain of Pain", the first 331 race of the year, a team race with 2 riders riding alternating laps. I'll admit, I got a bit carried away and before you could say Kato Smells Danger, I had teamed up with Todd and entered my credit card details..... The comeback was on and excitement levels were high.
Between the time of signing up and manscaping, a lot had happened. I'd moved back to Ohio and consumed my weight in fast food and beer during the transition. I'd also purchased a new bike from the good people at Edge Outdoors. So to put it another way, my pre race sit rep was chubby, out of shape, with awesome bike. I spent the day before the race trying to remember how to prepare. Luckily, as I'm a huge geek, I found a pre-race check list that I'd put together a couple years back. (I've attached a copy incase anyone is interested. This is just my interpretation of the Hammer race nutrition bible book, it's not perfect but it's served me well and is a decent starting point). After several hours of mixing powders, counting gel packets and checking and double checking the contents of my pack, I was ready and off for an early night.
After unloading, I caught up with the KSD crew. It was really great to see everyone. I've said it before, but we have something really special here. This is a great group / family and not only is it fun to be part of. but with the number of group rides and trail days that are organized and promoted by these guys, the NEO bike scene is a better place because of KSD.
The race start was drawing ever closer and most of my time was taken up with my usual pre race routine: checking that the zippers on my pack were closed and taking nervous wees. During this whole time, the famous Skirt of Shame flapped ominously in the wind for all to see. The Skirt of Shame came about during my time in Chicago, but I've excitedly followed its progress online. It has changed hands many times but typically it's worn by the loser of a predefined one-on-one challenge during a race; kind of a 2 person race within a race . I knew the rules had been switched up for today and it would be worn by a different rider for each lap, I just wasn't sure how they would be picked. It didn't take long before I was nominated as a potential Skirt of Shame wearer for the first lap, due to my lack of KSD jersey. When I confessed that none of them fit anymore, my fate was sealed and I was handed the skirt. To be honest,I saw no shame in wearing the skirt; I've always quite enjoyed looking like a prat, and I was honored to be accepted back into the KSD fold in such an awesome way. I slipped the skirt on with pride, posed for some pictures and headed for the start line.
To summaries my race: lap 1 was all about the skirt, I had no end of people cheering me on, whistling at me or just yelling things like "Sweet skirt dude" or just "SKIRT OF SHAAAAAAME". I overtook a couple people and was overtaken by a few more, but I wasn't in last place by the end of the lap, so that means at least 5 people got beaten by a fat lad in a skirt. Lap 2 was all about keeping the pedals turning. My legs were done towards the end of the lap and the last climb was a real challenge. Lap 3 was all about getting chicked... again! This has happened to me for about my last 5 races, but this was different; it's like it was personal. I lost count in the end but at least 7 women flew by me, all of them going considerably faster than me and all of them were very polite about it which eased the pain a little. I finished my last lap with a huge sense of accomplishment and a big smile.
Once the race was over, 331's resident comedian, Rody, gave out the medals and awards in his usual awesome fashion, ruthlessly mocking everyone that stood on the podium and skillfully shooting down hecklers with sniper like precision. And that rounded up a great day on the bike with great people. It's good to be back.
Until next time, look after your selves.... And each other.