Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Abby's First Race

Barry Wicks Dominates, Lynn Bessette Hangs Tough, and A.J. Hendricks DeclaresVictory!

As the rest of the US has already gone through a cord of firewood this fall, ther ace venue for Surf City 3 & USGP 5 was baked by an offshore wind this Saturday. People unfamiliar to this region might have been surprised, but fall furnace-like conditions aren' tunknown along the California coast, as evidenced in the Oakland Hills not too many years ago.

While I was lucky enough to attend all 3 of this years Bella sponsored CXevents, this would be my 3-year old daughter Abby's second all-day CX outing of the season. We visited CCCX event a week prior, but the stay was short-lived, as Abby "A.J."wanted to avoid the starter's whistle and venture off to a nearby farm stand for hot french fried artichokes and an ice-cold "Squirt (which she likes because it has a "Zippytaste").

Anyway, through the night before Surf City, I packed the family SUV packed tothe gills with:
3 cases of freshly-labeled podium champagne;
1 6-pack of similarly labeled bubbly Apple Juice;
2 cases of ultra-cool "U Bastard" tiki mugs;
1 bottle of Silver-Label Patron;
4 limes;
1 large shaker of Morton Salt;
1 red stake-bed Radio Flyer wagon;
Abby's Pink with White Kitties Specialized Singlespeed.

This might have been an odd packing list for anything else, but for a Velo Bella"Event", it seemed just right.

Since Abby has all but ignored the bike for the last few weeks, I wasn't too sure how much action the bike would see, but I loaded it up "just in case". For some reason on the drive up, Abby became quite clear that she was ready toget her hula on with the Bellas. We had packed her baby-sized pink hula skirt, which shewasn't interested in, but the flower bracelet from flair princess Laura was gladly received. As soon as champagne and tiki mug deliveries were done, we had to rush over tothe "Patron Feed Zone" for Robin. We had forgotten just about everything to properly attend to her, including our limes, but after a quick detour to parking, Robin was back on her way with a bit more than endorphins about to kick in.

By that time, Abby decided to get warmed up for her race, and she demanded that the race should begin once she jumped on her pink kitty bike with her helmet on. If there was apoint in her life where she decided she was a Bella, there was no question now,as she proudly proclaimed to any that would listen what her club affiliation was. Finally, after signing the waiver, warming up, having Laura pin on her "lucky"number, and figuring out which way to spin her pedals, we were ready to head to "The MainEvent". As we headed over, there was already a couple of 8 to 10 years olds tearing up thecourse with their CX converted 20" BMX rigs. No worries for 3 year old Abby on her 16inch kitty bike - once I explained that the older kids would soon be spent, she was sure to dominate the course.

By the way, great course layout on the Kiddies – It even had a zigzag around some barns and a dirt run-up.

As the last of kids started lining up, trying their best to position themselves for their sprint to the first barrier, Abby remained calm, and even laid downsome smack to the bigger riders. (One great footnote – as the kiddie riders lined up fortheir race, Kona Pro Wendy Simms was there to cheer on their start – now that's a class act).

Once the flag dropped, the other kids were off through the tall grass like wounded banshees. One kiddie-"pro" took a face-plant within a couple feet of the start, so Abby actually made it over the first set of barriers without being last (I guess I should mention Iwas "helping" with horsepower, steering, and occasional lift). Even though her rig was Papa-powered, I was extremely proud of Abby - she smiled the whole way, she did her best to pedal the whole time, and she stayed glued to that bike, through ditches, grass, off-camber turns, and even while "flying" over the barriers. While Abby was ready to take the race the whole distance, I was dropping fast. The crowd wildly cheered us on as we gassed it down the home stretch. As we came to a stop, I had Abby give out a very deserving victory salute, after which she pretty much assumed that she was ready to take the podium and claim her prizes and treats from Valerie.

From that point on, Abby was a veteran. For a long while after, she practiced her dismounts by taking somersaults off her bike onto her back into the grass. She even discovered the "real" USGP podium, upon which she hopped from level to level, trying them on for size while reaching her arms in the air (She even had to be shooedoff whenthe Women's pros arrived to accept their awards).

And oh, yeah, Bessette and Wicks won their respective races. And ChristineVardaros kicked some serious ass in that heat. Frankly, all of the Bella pros were amazing to watch, and congrats to all therest of Bellas in their races and to all the amazing volunteers – women who hula are coola, & girls who wear grass haul ass.


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