These are the Groundhog Gimp Twins, ripping it up as Head Cheerleader and Head Volunteer at the start/finish during the Open race. Steve Driscoll (Head Cheerleader) is on the left, just 48 hours removed from a surgery to, well, remove three screws that were holding his leg together. He was getting around pretty well out there! And he was LOUD ... we have reports from the nearby Mountain Lion sanctuary that Steve's voice could be heard nearly 800 meters away ...
On the right is Uncle Gary, getting around pretty well himself two weeks after ripping the head off his femur. True to form, he was offering "catch the rider in front of you" primes, the value of which changed each lap depending on how close you were! (One one lap, he offered me $5 to catch Jeff Schroetlin; on the next, after I flatted and had to change bikes, it went up to $150; finally, at the bell, as I was creeping back up, it dropped down to $15 ...)
To the right is a shot of Robert Kron (left) and Jeff Williams (right), two superstars of the weekend. Kron is a never-say-die competitor who can't let any race pass him by -- and so, devoid of a 'cross bike (or for that matter 'cross experience), mounted up his Team Mack Waterford with 24cc Vittoria Paves and hit the trail for the Open and the Classic ... I was sliding around on my 32cc tires, I can't imagine what he was doing!
Jeff is a great guy, and was very generous to let a bunch of crazy bikers crash at his house on Friday and Saturday evenings. We also finally got to listen to a CD from his band, nil8 -- WOW. These guys rock! It's a funny case of a person's music not exactly being in tune with the personality of the performer ... Jeff is one of the most laid back, easy-going people I know!
Here is Andy, in his first race wearing Team Mack colors ... he had a great weekend, and has come a long way since Montrose in his riding and 'cross racing ...
Here's a fun shot of me on the homestraight -- gotta' love advertising!
And finally, here it is ... just moments before the maiden voyage, the new ride pimped and ready to go! Fast!
All in all, it was a pretty cool weekend. It was especially gratifying when, at the end of the Classic, as I sucked wind and tried not to cough up a lung, this guy in a U of I jersey pulls up to me. "You Chris Strout?" "Um, yeah (cough, cough)." "I thought so. I just wanted to tell you that you're the reason I'm here." "Huh? (hack, hack)" "Yeah, I read your article [in Chicago Athlete], and I decided that this 'cross thing sounds kind of fun, so I came down here!" "Wow, really? Where are you from?" "Union!"
This guy drove 4 hours for an out-of-season, out-of-the-way race, ridden in 16-degree temps, all because he read about 'cross in a free magazine back home. That is so cool! He didn't care about his finishes, didn't care about the results. He just wanted to get out and have fun. I was pretty disappointed in the results (more on that later), but that really put it all in perspective.
ONLY 300 DAYS TO NATZ!!