Well, I have all kinds of things to say about this weekend’s Longest Day, but first, let me tell you about the comedy of errors that was pre-race day.
(1) Friday morning’s plans to load up the car, drop Brent off at school, and work at a nearby coffee shop for a few hours were derailed when Lupine decided to go after a squirrel. As I let him out back, he launched himself off the deck, skidded on the slate patio, and flew off his feet. He let out a loud yelp that Brent heard from the upstairs bathroom, stood up, and like a three-year-old who’s just realized he has a booboo, began to cry. At first I thought he’d broken his foot, but it turned out that he’d split his nail open. One vet visit, $93, and a bandaged foot later, he was ready for a weekend with my sister and Brent and I were ready to head to New York.
(2) We picked Bruce up at 2 pm and hit the highway. Race registration began at 5:00 AM Saturday morning, so we wanted to get up there and settle in early. An hour from our destination – the Super 8 motel in Kingston, New York – we heard a loud thump from the roof of the car. I was driving, so Brent peeked his head out of the window to see what was going on.
“Pull over! Pull over now!” he yelled.
Mind you, I was in the left-most lane of the New York Thruway in thickening rush hour traffic.
“The bike rack fell off! Pull over!”
I managed to weave my way into the right lane and then onto the mercifully wide highway shoulder. Bruce and I assumed Brent meant the trunk rack to which Bruce’s bike was affixed. Instead, we all got out of the car to find this:
Turns out all of the bolts on the front half of the rack had rattled loose, so the entirety of the rack slid backward over the back window. Luckily, the back bolts held strong, or we would have had a lot of very expensive roadkill to account for. Brent and Bruce put the rack back together while I documented the process. Twenty minutes later, we continued on our way.
(3) As is the NYARA custom, the actual race location for the 2011 Longest Day wasn’t announced until just a few days ago, but the race directors did offer up the names of a couple of the surrounding towns as lodging options. We tried to reserve a room in the suggested Phoenicia or Shandaken, but couldn’t find anything cheaper than a fancy ski lodge, so we ended up booking a room at the one available motel in nearby Kingston, NY: the Super 8.
Between racing, road tripping, and commuting, I’ve spent countless nights in cheap motels, and I’m generally not terribly squeamish, but Super 8 has always screamed sketchy to me.
And this one surely delivered.
We checked in, unloaded the car, and went in search of dinner. After an evening at the Dietz Stadium Diner (just as snazzy as it sounds), we came back and readied our bikes. Since we didn’t have an extra padlock, Bruce pulled his into my backseat, and Brent and I locked ours to the refurbished roof rack. We wrapped towels around the drivetrains to protect them from any overnight condensation, and went inside to organize our gear.
An hour later, Brent went back out to grab something from the car and was approached by – get this – a traveling chainsaw salesman, who warned him that the man across the parking lot had stolen our towels.
Brent walked over to find a rather rotund biker-dude buffing his u-haul with our beach towel.
“Um, I think that’s my towel,” he said cautiously.
The man paused and looked down at the cloth, now damp with his spit.
“Really?” he responded apologetically. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize it belonged to someone.”
“Well, it was on our car…”
“Oh man… I’m so sorry.”
This went on for several minutes. The man tried to return the towel, and when Brent refused him, he attempted to send Brent back with a handful of little pink washcloths. Worried that the guy might screw around with our bikes, Brent moved the car to the back of the motel, and came back inside to relay the exchange. It was about that time that we noted the large XP etched into the ceiling.
(4) By this point, it was 9:30 PM. We had to wake up at 3:00 to get to registration. We turned out the lights and settled in, and though I’d been exhausted only minutes earlier, I suddenly found myself wide awake. I tossed and turned for three hours, unable to shut off my brain. Finally, around midnight, I got up to use the bathroom, and discovered that I’d gotten my period (too much information? Sorry!). Now I know this is a post about bad omens, and technically, this wasn’t a bad thing. In fact, given that it had been inexplicably delayed for nearly two weeks and I was becoming increasingly anxious, it was a really good thing. But while it’s perfect timing in terms of Costa Rica, it was about as annoying as it could have been for the Longest Day, where I’d be heading off into the woods for 30 straight hours. But more on that later…
Finally, just before 1:00 AM, I fell asleep. Two hours later, the alarm sounded.
It was time to race.