Saturday, April 9, 2011

Finally a race in my "backyard": Ft. Davis Hammerfest

These days, I don't get to officiate too many races in Texas, so when I do, it feels almost like staying at home. Before I headed out yesterday morning from Lubbock, I even got a chance to ride a few miles. The day was gorgeous, with relatively little wind, so I dropped the roof on the Miata and drove the 5 hours or so south to Ft. Davis, just about 90 miles from the Rio Grande and the border to Mexico.

The drive leads through Midland, then west on I-20 to Pecos (known for its super sweet cantaloupe), and from there across a desolate plain before one enters the Davis Mountains. In this plain is located the tiny hamlet of Saragosa, which was wiped out by a tornado something like 15 or 20 years ago. I still remember driving through this town of maybe 100 souls, marveling at the snapped-off trees and electricity poles. So, seeing uncounted dust devils in this region on the drive yesterday brought back certain memories as this odd phenomenon is somewhat related to the tornado. Dust devils are small whirlwinds that pick up dust and rocks and vegetation and dance along the plains for a few minutes before they collapse. Get caught in one of those in a roadster and you'll taste dirt for days.

Dust devil near Saragosa, TX

I made it down to the ranch, which is the headquarters for this weekend's three-stage road race, just a few minutes after registration had opened at 4 p.m. No problem. I spent the afternoon helping out as I am not the chief down here. Still it seemed to me that my experience and expertise were appreciated. As is always the case when I go to a race in Texas there are lots of people I know, and it is nice to catch up with old buddies with whom I used to race. Quite frankly, I do miss the camaraderie of racing, but my officiating life now is so much more fulfilling and, honestly, so much more fun.

This morning I was in charge of the first group to go off on the hill climb up to Mt. Locke, a 16-mile slog with grades of around 20% in the final two miles. I was the accompanying referee for the Professionals and Category 1 and 2 racers.

The P / 1 / 2s struggling up Mt. Locke
Up at the top I helped out with the scoring; the chief Judge was Jim Yahr, and Mike Hester from Midland was one of the other officials. The wind was blowing like crazy, and we felt sorry for some of the Junior and Women racers who had an awfully tough time in the final few meters. This afternoon we'll have a time trial, off the mountain, which should be brutally windy, too. My task will be to start the 300+ racers in 30-second intervals, and I'm looking forward to that.

Scoring at the top of the hill climb

I had a few minutes here at Prude Ranch and really wanted to get this update going before heading to the Limpia Hotel for lunch and then the start of the TT.


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