Monday, May 5, 2014

Back in Texas—but not for long

300+ racers and spectators at the High School finals near Troy
Just when I thought that I would never, ever experience a tailwind again on a trip out of town, Friday I was blown all the way from Lubbock to Temple by a 15-mile-breeze that boosted gas mileage and morale. You may not think often about the wind and its direction (or speed), but if you were to drive a Miata with the roof down and head for 300+ miles into a 30 mph head- and crosswind, you'd change your perception quickly. I swear, so far this year, on every trip to a race I faced strong unfavorable winds, regardless of whether I was heading out of town to the race or rolling back in. It was like a curse: If Jürgen is on the road, let's ruin his gas mileage and travel time.
Checking-in racers at the Ft. Davis Hammerfest
The winds had been quite different a week ago when I drove to Ft. Davis, in the Trans Pecos region of far West Texas. After my unscheduled trip to Berlin I had barely enough time (literally less than 12 hours) to sleep and store my stuff at home before leaving to what used to be Texas' premier road stage race. You may remember that for two years (2011 and 2012) the event had to be stopped after one or two stages because of wildfires. Then, in 2013, nobody wanted to organize another Hammerfest. But for 2014, the race was resurrected, and there were no fires. Yeah! Unfortunately, only about 100 racers showed up, and they were treated to nice, albeit windy, weather. As Chief Judge I had my hands full working on the results, but everything finally worked out so that I could battle the winds and the dust in the Permian Basin all the way back home.
The Chief Judge's office in the Davis Mountains—finish line on Heartbreak Hill
The next four days in Lubbock went by fast. There was laundry to be done, the bike to be ridden, and items to be put on eBay. Then, on Wednesday evening, Angela learned that her aunt had unexpectedly died (and her uncle had just been diagnosed with what appears to be terminal cancer), so I tried to be supportive and took her to the airport for her flight to Milwaukee in the wee hours on Friday morning. A quick bike ride later, and I was back in the car to the TX High School Mountain Bike League finals close to Temple. I tell you, it ain't easy to be retired!
The chief with happy high schoolers
The race took place on a small private ranch near Troy, which is about 15 miles from Temple. It was a special treat to stay with Martha and Alan for two nights and hang out with my good friends. Alan and I engaged in some serious beer drinking and even took a swim in the pool. On Sunday, he volunteered at the race as part of the medical team, and I think he came away with a really good understanding of why I enjoy those high school races so much.
Typical roadkill on a Texas mountain bike trail
The last of the bluebonnets
High school league sleeping accommodations, with teddy bear
It's dry, even in south-central Texas
Almost 50 high school girls raced this weekend—a new record
Checking results
So here I am, once again in the Abilene Hilton Garden Inn, with another few hours of driving back to Lubbock ahead of me. Coming back from the race, yesterday, I had a tailwind again! What is the world coming to? I have four days in Lubbock before I head out to California for 10 days at the AMGEN Tour of California, an assignment that I am really looking forward to. Lots of things to do before then, so I better get going. Thanks for reading.


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