So, I got a hit tracker for this blog and noticed that I was getting link hits from an old friend, the gnome, at onespeeder.com. The gnome is a true flagstaffrican homeboy and one of the best riders I've been around. I have a story about his cycling prowess, but I need to give you some background first.
I did my first 'cross race in Flagstaff at Ft. Tuthill on the day after Halloween in '98 or '99. I think 4 of us showed up to race and then a few spectators showed up who were so hungover from all the Halloween festivities that standing up became a sort of side competition. I totally sucked, but I was hooked. The "series" never materialized that year. Jim "legs" Lehmann won the AZ state 'cross championships that year, I think like four people showed for that too.
The next year, I somehow took over running the northern AZ 'cross series. We did a total guerilla series, never bothering to secure any permission or permitting for the races. The races were advertised with a generic starting area, Late For The Train coffee shop. Everyone would ride to the coffee shop and then I would tell them where the race would take place and they would ride off to meet me there. The courses were pretty low budget and we had to get in and get out before we got caught. The rules were that if you were in last place then you had to pick up the barriers as you finished the last lap. You also had to drink a shot of Old Crow Whiskey (the cheapest whiskey I could find) if you lost. We started having 15 to 20 people showing up for each class. It was time to go legit-ish...
The next year, I got "permission" to run the series on the NAU campus. 6 races, 2 per weekend for three weekends. I would get up at the buttcrack of dawn and hammer stakes into frozen ground and run tape as the sun came up. I think we charged like 5 bucks for each category. The most memorable course feature was a super long, super steep run up called "the Crippler" that actually made Jeremy "Pounds of" Bounds vomit on one lap.
So the last race of the series came down to 2 riders in the A class battling it out for the overall: The Gnome and Pete "Creamy" Prebus. Right from the gun the gnome puts the wood to it and starts bunny hopping every barrier in sight. These were the regulation 16" high barriers and the dude was bunnyhopping the triple, the double and even the barrier I placed at the bottom of a steep grass berm to force riders to make it a run-up. He dropped creamy hard, but then all of a sudden, Creamy started bunnyhopping barriers for the first time ever. Now creamy had raced 'cross for as long as he'd been alive. When he was 13 or 14 he had been featured in a how-to video called "A taste of 'cross" (anybody got a copy?) showing how to run through the barriers. The dude was glass smooth dismounting and remounting, but the gnome had gotten the edge when he started bunnyhopping. When I talked to creamy at the end of the race he said that he figured he better learn how to bunnyhop the barriers or the race was lost. I'm sad to say that the gnome was not victorious that day, but he definitely made for a thrilling race.
I checked out onespeeder.com and learned that the gnome is about to join my ever growing circle of friends who are new parents. Congratulations on the impending birth! I agree with the gnome that nobody can tell you what parenthood will be like, but I will add that it is the greatest thing that has happened to me and hope him the same experience.
Lastly, day one of Hendersonville:
Jeff Welch 4th place master's 35+
Shelly Welch 6th place Women's 3/4 (crashed warming up, so she busted it out singlespeed style!)
Me 4th place CX4, hell yeah I top fived! I gotta bottle of Chimay Grand Reserve to celebrate with too!
I'll update with race details after tomorrows fun!