Race Sherpa

Time to play race Sherpa for a day with Nick racing in the Half Growler! Nick made me drive the van to all the assigned spots and practice turning around so I felt comfortable on Saturday. No fights and I managed to safety maneuver the brown beast over the hills of Hartman's Rocks. We took advantage of the practice to check out the sections of trail that had been closed on the pre-ride. 

Finishing up the long climb on Nine-O. It would hurt even more in two days!

Then it was back to the KOA to plan race strategy for me helping Nick. It was going to be a busy day, with three planned exchanges - once for a bout of camelbak jousting, once of a bottle and then a quick pit stop for a fresh camelbak. With everything loaded into a tube, I was ready to go. I made sure I had plenty of drinks and some food to eat while I was out there. After all, I still needed to get ready for my own race on Sunday!

A quick downpour Friday night meant for a chilly morning Saturday. It also meant for pavement quality trails out at Hartman's. Everyone at the KOA was amped up for some perfect racing conditions. Nick left for the start and I headed up in the van. Time to go to work!

Nick near the front of the pack on the road start - love that orange helmet!
Photo - Jenn V
Leaders on Luge trail - nothing but dots of color rolling thru miles of green
The leaders soon appeared on Luge - specks of color streaming thru the Sage. I kept my eyes peeled for the blue and white ProCycling kit and Nick's orange helmet. He was further down in the field then I'd anticipated, but we made the camelbak exchange smoothly. Then he was gone. 

Riders on the road - heading into the depths of Hartman's Rocks
Time to move on. Took a few photos and then climbed back into the van to hit the next spot. I didn't know how long it would take him to get there, but I didn't want to miss him. Drove a little faster then I should have in some places, but had no issues. I got parked and started the complex process of defizzing coke for Nick. With nothing to do but have a snack and wait, I hung out with some of the volunteers. The sun was coming out and it was getting nice out. Then the first riders appeared on Back In. Time to get to work again! To my surprise, Trevor VB was in the lead! Then came some of the other fast COS riders - Kyle B, Todd S, and Matt T.

Kyle B, making quick work of the turn onto Bambi's
Todd S - riding strong and looking good
Nick would be coming soon. I started looking at rear wheels, eyeing for the single speeders. Mark T came thru, telling me Nick was right behind him. One more SS rider came by and then I saw Nick's orange helmet. He pitched his camelbak and grabbed the bottle of flat coke. I told him place and time, and then went in search of his camelbak. I would only have about 15 minutes to get everything ready for him. Refill camelbak and grab his bottle. As I was leaving to hike up to Skyline, I decided to grab the can of coke from the tub. Couldn't hurt to have it with me!
Todd S heading onto Skyline

When Nick came around, he was still in third. He pulled over and took the camelbak, asking for a coke while he put it on. Well, I had the coke with me... But it was still in the unopened can. Nick wasn't gonna wait and wasn't happy with my mind reading skills. Too late to get it in the empty bottle from his bike. But I still had a chance. I poured the can into the bottle and took off running. I could possible meet him where the trail crossed the road. But as I was running up the hill, I knew it would be too close. I was seeing jerseys not to far ahead of Nick down on Broken Shovel. Another choice - keep going on the road or cross country to the Josho's climb. I decided on the cross country route. I barely beat the first single speeder to the point and surprised a few riders by re-appearing on the trail. Nick was very happy to see me and took the offered bottle and the info I had. The I bolted. I didn't know if I would make it back to town to beat him in. I still had to be careful driving back down to the road and very aware of riders racing back to town. Dave was outside the KOA and I slowed to ask him if Nick had rolled thru. He had - but only by seconds. It was going to be close!
Nick finishing - the Half Growler had to finish in town this year...

Nick was blown when he was finished. He'd pulled back into second single speeder, but was just toast. I've never seen him that physically exhausted after a race. It was a hard day riding for him. I'd had the easy part - driving around, handing out water and sprinting to trails. Mental note - always wear running shoes and comfortable clothing when taking the day to play race Sherpa. You never know when a mile cross country sprint will save someone's race!

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