My one and only 'cross race of the season

December 14, 2006

This past weekend, I finally worked myself up to spectate a cross race. All season I've been avoiding it because I would much rather be racing than watching. I'm a doer not a watcher.

Saturday was the final Surf City race put on by Velo Bella-Kona and I just wanted to see live cross action. The drive to Watsonville took 45 minutes longer than usual due to people forgetting how to drive in the rain or forgetting how to drive due to visions of iPods dancing in their heads. For whatever reason, traffic would cruise along at a good tempo, slow to 5mph for a few miles then speed up again.

I ended up on some back roads hoping to avoid crowded highways and came across a sobering crash involving an unidentifiable car and large farm truck. The truck appeared to have won the confrontation with the car smashed and pushed uphill off the road. The smoke from the flares mixed with the fog in eerie wisps. I was glad to reach the fairgrounds in one piece. After donning protective rain gear in preparation for the pending rain, I hoofed it over to the course. I made it just in time for the last lap of the women's race. Rachel Lloyd was cruising on the slippery muddy course with a solid lead. She was in her element slipping and slopping along. Bella Sarah finished a strong second and Josie Beggs came in third. Josie was happy to have some mud, it reminded her of home.

The men's race wore me out. It takes lots of energy to run back and forth around the course on wet grass and slippery mud. Barry got a gap at the start and that never changed. Next in line was Ben J-M, he had a good gap on everyone else until his bike got too crapped up. He hadn't brought a spare but got out of dirty bike suffering by using Brent Chapman's Rock Lobster single speed. Josh, his Rock Lobster teammate Dave Wyandt and Justin Robinson were in a little group behind Andy J-M. Josh put his years of riding in the mud in Maine to use and took off in hot pursuit of Andy, caught him but got dropped on the run after a lap. This left Josh by himself and Dave battling with Justin and plenty of drama further back.

John Funke, the NCNCA 'cross moderator, pulled sweet moves off the tabletop. In the end Barry won, Ben finished second, Andy third, Josh fourth then Dave, Justin, John Funke and the rest are in the results. Just as the men's race finished the rain started. It started with a light drizzle, moved quickly through moderate rain and right into pouring. I helped move course fences around until my arms hurt then went back to the parking lot and hung out with the Rock Lobster team until darkness set in. By this time it was dumping buckets and driving was kinda scary. My plan was to go to the Velo Bella-Kona volunteer party then head back home for a Christmas sweater party. While driving from Watsonville to Felton that plan changed. I had no desire to drive all the way home that night in the dumping rain. Brent and Jen graciously offered me a place to stay for the night, Josh was already staying with them.

The Bella 'cross volunteer party was awesome. This is one of the reasons I love this team. Everyone works hard whether it is racing or putting on a great race series then they all hang out and have fun afterwards. We had a great dinner with several forms of entertainment. The first bit of entertainment was pictures from all the Surf City's projected on the wall. We were also treated to pint size cheerleaders doing cheers and flips. Don't get confused, they weren't there for us but were having their own cheer squad dinner. Josh was particularly disturbed by this when he tried to make a bathroom trip but turned back after being swarmed by tiny little girls wearing makeup, bows and cheerleader outfits. It was a late night but great to see so many people that I've missed this past year of not racing and not spectating. I can't wait to race again. Of course, I have countless hours of hard training in between now and then but it will be worth it to hang out after each race with my friends.


Recipe for the week: Shiitake and Barley Soup

This hearty soup is great for winter. It is easy to make and hard to stop eating.

4-8 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 cups stock (I use soy ginger stock from Trader Joe's)
1 cup pearl barley
Soy sauce
Tofu, extra firm

Soak shiitakes in about two cups of warm water for a day. Save the mushroom water. Soak barley in cold water for an hour, don't save the water. Bring stock to boil, add barley. Slice mushrooms and add to boiling stock. Add mushroom water. Cut tofu into small cubes and add to soup. Add soy sauce and miso to taste. Go easy on the soy sauce, it can quickly make the soup too salty. Cook until barley is tender, about 15 minutes. If the soup gets too thick add more water or stock.

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