Ski to Sea 2014: Blue Roosters & Friends Take to the Mountains, Lakes, and Trails

Previously on A&A's Memorial Adventures in Cohabiracitation: Madness whimpered from the Id, in the anomie of full footware revolution. Mr. (W)right struggled sleepless nights in a battle with the formidable Drakes, while his lady-love blew skirts to the wind in shape-up sneakers. And the spinning gyres heralded the end-times. A long-awaited boon to the (W)right community sparked sweet dreams of Cardio-Qi-Competitive-Kick-Meditation and the new fitness empire. And track dreams were once more dashed against a sea of electrical failures and pluvial plentitidue. 

Coming Up: Come ski to shining sea, the Day of the Rooster is Nigh! Warriors of all paths convene for one very wild quest: TO KICK SKI TO SEA TOOSH. The cumuli crepitate with foreboding and Boundary Bays boister and boil with dilatory disaster. Will the cerulean poultry crow with the morning sun? Will Mr. (W)right escape the bogs of Hovander? Will his Pathfinder and doting wife follow soon after? Will post-race breakfast recap bread ever be broken? 

Get on your tutu, mount your time trial steed and pack a coffee... it is time for the Ski to Sea!

And We've Reached the Ski and Sea and Every Bit of Gravel Between

It is time! Almost... In a few hours. Maybe after a half hour of quiet repose. And after some waking and definitely after some more coffee... And maybe after breakfast. After some bike wrangling. Some viands vending. And kindle charging. After... ok, after we're gosh darned good and ready, it will eventually be time to head out to Hovander Park's bog o' plenty (o' mud) and wait some more. 

The mysteries abound: how will any individual member of Andrew's team perform in his or her discipline? Will streamlined times result in Andrew's getting to leave the bog pit some time in close approximation to his actual warm up? Will the new canoe purchased by Andrew's teammate yesterday (after they almost sank  the old canoe on their single outing together) stand up to the high waters of Nooksack? Will the Whatcom weather break with tradition and remain clement with Memorial deluge at bay? Will Adella ever escape from the mire of no return with Mr. (W)right's Pathfinder in tow? Will Andrew one day land wrong on one of those flying leaps he does onto his bike and give a sad tata to his manhood?

Many of these remain murky, but I would speculate a spell: it's probably going to sprinkle, but the fact that I left my sunglasses at the office (again) does increase the chance of some blinding splashed of sun. 

And that's as far as I go on speculation. Other than packing enough food to be at the mud-pit for a good afternoon. Just in case. 

Yesterday we had a team lunch at Boundary Bay Brewery, official sponsor of the Ski to Sea. BBB is a haven of delicious foods, of beers that require more fussy adjectives than the fussiest of wines, and of eternally foreboding clangor. I often wonder why I don't eat there more often, but then just as often remember that it may have something to do with the average 90 decibel background volume (I check with my phone app sometimes), and my proclivity for ear plugs in fairly mild noise baths. Sometimes I wish that real life came with a volume button (which it virtually does when I don my ear plugs), and closed captioning. There was much shouting and sign language. And I'm pretty sure I missed 75% of anything said about the table. 

 Two of our team members never quite made it to the table, despite having reportedly been in the restaurant and anxiously seeking us. Two others were en route with apologies. We waited just long enough (about 45 minutes at an already late lunch) for plummeting blood sugar to kibosh any remaining ability to finesse the overwhelming surge of stimuli in BBB. I remained ecstatic to see Andrew's whilom roommate, Sarah, and her very nice roommate. But I admittedly faded increasingly into my corner fortress of impatience and self-soothing as the hours ticked along. 

But before my effective retreat, I met the team. They seem like a pretty rough and tumble rag tag bevy of boisterously promising sports movie cliches! I suspect our kayaker ought to be on a more fearsome team. He was pleasant, but intense during the conversation. Constantly asking people about their training backgrounds, equipment, and times, despite the repeated circumlocutions of "well, I run/bike/trudge up mountains on a pretty regular basis, but I dunno... I'm here to have fun?" Our kayaker is also proud finisher of several Ski-to-Seas with top finishing times. But he had no other choice, so hopefully he'll be happy just to do his leg. I am personally optimistic about Mr. (W)right's chances of getting out of Hovander more comfortably before the cut off time. 

Of course, things could go awry. That's the fun of a race like this. For one, several of the team members have yet to meet their point of contact in the relay. The cross country skier hasn't met the downhill skier. The road cyclist hasn't met the canoeists. There have been various sartorial demonstrations (Andrew proffers a white jersey, blue and yellow, red helmet, and says "kind of like this, but on somebody..." GO), but it still could get tricky in the anomie of 400+ race-mad hoardes huddling for pass-offs. But I figure somehow that timing chip with cha-cha along from Baker to Fairhaven. 

And I'll spin some wheels right out of Hovander before pulling my official "your wife is an introvert and is doing this for your own benefit" abstention from the final Fairhaven debauch. Not that I don't support the Blue Roosters and their friends, but I still maintain that Andrew will be much happier wandering around with his teammates, babbling in a post-race endorphin high with any person or tree nearby, and not having to deal with his increasingly agitated wife with her verging meltdown in the ample crowds. 

Anyways, just to get our hopes afloat, the sky is blushing blue in parts and the birds are singing their siren cants of cooperative weather. In traditional Northwest Fashion, it's time to find the sunscreen and the rain boots!

Is that a water bottle in your sparkle tights or are you just happy to be racing?

Righteously Rad Royal Roosters Race to Renown(and/or a cold one in Rainy Fairhaven)

So here's what happens when you (should you be a cycle-nut heart-bursting crazy man married to me, and aren't we all really you that way?) organize your own Ski to Sea Team instead of coming on as a last minute ringer: You get to start your race with people in spandex roughly an hour and change earlier in the day than previously. This means that you haven't jumped and jangled your bladder into a permanent froth. It means you are still somewhat warm in the warm up. It still means that you pass * a lot* of people, but the people you pass are a little less terrified of your raptor-like swoop from behind. Or perhaps just less terrifying to pass, since maybe they'll be able to hold their line. And maybe you want to hang out with your team after the fact. 

The Roosters raced to earn their cock's crow. We had some tremulous tritones of concern at the beginning of the race. Our downhill skier got confused by the name of her leg ("downhill ski") and misunderstood that her leg actually is the "hike up a mountain with a spot of skiing at the end" leg Andrew did warn her that all the legs were a little weird and to make sure to read the description before signing on. But apparently she anticipated there would be a chair lift to get to the top of the mountain. She was nonplussed upon her discovery that no such lifts existed. And hiking up the side of a mountain toting ski gear was, perhaps, not her strong suit judging by the time she eventually posted (about three times as long as the first finishers). Around that point, Roosters were languishing in the 400s place-wise. It's a huge group of racers, so 400 isn't scoffable, but it's a tad lower in the totem than a competitive open team would prefer. Fortunately, it was a short leg regardless, so the time lost was on the order of a half hour instead of several hours. Things went more smoothly from there. 

Sarah split down the mountain, the canoeists stayed afloat, and the road cyclist made full use of his time trial bike to post a dauntingly impressive time while passing over 100 people. Andrew was no slouch himself, improving quite substantially over last year's performance (posting the 71st best time for his leg) and gaining the team about 60 places. And, as predicted, the kayaker was a ring a ding ringer (posting the 36th best time for his leg). The team ended up just around 200th overall. 

As one inevitably waxes into strategic debrief and future hypthoeticals, we've come to ordinalize the perfect focus/allocation of abilites for future team endeavors. In terms of decisive victories, the MIP on any subsequent team appears to be the road cyclist. The road leg is one of the two longest legs - averaging around two hours. It's also the one that seems to produce the widest variation in times. The canoe leg is about two and a half hours for most, but there are far fewer variations between teams. The ski portions are usually close to a half hour, with variations on either end. Cross Country (there really are no mountains or even elevation change, so the "mountain bike" leg has  been renamed this year) is around 50 minutes, with a tighter distribution of finishing times. Kayak is even shorter. So new strategy: next year's Rooster roadie will be Sir Bradley Wiggins. He can hop up here after finishing up the Amgen Tour of California. Good prep for the Tour de France, should he and Froome ever manage to sit on the same team again without flicking out the kitty-claws

But enough about the team, let's talk about my race experience. Drastically improved. In previous years, the Hovander Mire has proven a formidable foe, relentlessly foisting barrier to thwart any escapes from it clammy grasp. Apparently, the Hovander Mire has either had some serious therapy, or the race planners just figured out that having the sole egress be a distant and ill-defined road that also happened to be the ingress - and maybe that having the race course cross the only exit roads several times - was not the most efficient way to allow traffic-flow. Either way, the exit was (1) clear, (2) near the parking area, (3) relatively open at all times. 

And the rain. Well, it most certainly spewed, but it had the decency to hold itself in abeyance until Mr. (W)right was well on his merry way to massacre that course. I stayed almost completely dry. Another reason to be glad for a faster team: had we still been waiting around for canoeists for another ten to twenty minutes (let alone an hour), we'd have been tsunamied. 

As it was, it was a rather pleasant morning. We mostly partook of our usual addictions: I had Ada and Andrew had his forums. His team had a text message string, so we roughly knew where they were on the course. This is fortunate since the official Ski to Sea App was lagging substantially on updates yet again. After a spell, Andrew warmed up, checked his bike, and accompanied me to the transfer location to watch the boats come in. I took a few detours to surreptitiously snap a few pairs of sock I may covet. 

They have a system at that transfer point. There's a bridge about five to ten minutes away from landing. A spotter calls the boats passing under it, so that the mountain bikers can meet their canoeists, grab the timing chip, escort (or drag, depending on how exhausted the canoeists are) the canoe through the finish line, swipe the chip, and leap onto their bike, which some helpful friend has staged. My role was "helpful friend." When Andrew heard "number eight", he handed me his jacket, and I battled my way back to the bike pasture to lure his filly to the sidelines. They had us lined up by the beginning of the course, slowly moving further along the the sideline as others sent their cyclists on their way. We waited for some time there, only to hear "number eight" be called once again as "passing under the bridge" about fifteen minutes later. That seemed a spell odd. Even odder when "number eight" was once more called as passing under the bridge five minutes after the second call. Nonetheless, third time appeared to be a charm, and I whipped the bike into track for Andrew's flight into the cyclo-crossey chute. 

Not exactly sure why, but by the end I was still fairly exhausted. I attempted to drop by my mom's house on the way home, but felt completely done with interacting and came home instead with a flurry of anxieties about the damned "chores" awaiting me at home.Having accomplished the bare minimum (frozen things in a cold place, sheets back on the bed) I languished in a literary stupor with a tablet and some very, very quiet music. 

Andrew was, by contrast, effulgent. Something about liking his team and being pleased with the end results and yadda yadda yadda. I suspect he may still be sleeping in a little bit this morning, although we will be meeting some of the team for breakfast not too long from now (my suggestion, since I just couldn't go back out for a 7:30 dinner). 

There will be lots of coffee involved, I can already tell. 

This morning, I'm still pretty zonked (holding a bicycle is hard, man), but cautiously emerging into a cunctatious clarity of mind. Soon to be pureed back into soup at the next crowded restaurant, but should have enough time beforehand to contemplate dinner for a few days anyhow. 

Ski to See-Ya Next Year: Epilogue

Having waived our palpitating pinkies at another good year, we once again returned with weekend adventure hangovers to the serious business of... ignoring the Memorial Day portent in lieu of dazedly bumbling about and trying our hands at the ol' weekend catch up. But on Monday! 

Before getting too crazy with our catch-up staring and drooling chores, we met up one final time with the 2014 Rooster core. Next year, seeing as Andrew may well be the only Blue Rooster on the team at this point (and he occasionally considers finding a more local team should he finally let go of his ambitions on track-dominance), they may be something other than roosters. I daren't speculate. But Sarah, Alyse, Andrew, and Todd (one of the canoeists) sound to be on board for another hypothetical run. With much palaver about things they now know that they'd do differently. We gave a thorough encomium and adios to the 2014 race over breakfast at the perpetually crowded and harried (but tasty) Diamond Jim's Diner. Since one of our numbers has a one year old child and was thus running an hour late on normal person time (so, early on "kid time" I believe), we had plenty of opportunity to delve this topic. It's a long ways off, but I've even intimated that should my arch continue to recover, should Sarah want to switch from running to kayaking, and should I get some serious practice running at a long decline (it's a 5% decline for 8 miles, so a bit of a pounding on the poor body), I might maybe just kinda sort could be talked into considering doing the running leg in a future year. Maybe. People say and think mad things when they are zonked and tired and coming off of a migraine. 

At any rate, after our two and a half hour repast (and appropriate cooing at the late-coming baby), we parted ways and I returned to my chopping and beglazed ogling of atoms. 

And today is Tuesday. Tuesday!! I cannot wrap my head around that. I am leaving for New Jersey on Thursday afternoon, so this little interruption of work week is more baffling than anything else. It will be the first time since our connubial ceremonies that either of us has been away for without the other. What madness might Mr. (W)right conduct in my absence? I'm guessing boxer shorts, bike orgies, and computer games everywhere. 

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