Yesterday, Hwood and I rode out to the lake to take on the 2nd edition of the Penn Cycle Ice Loppet. The temps were in the mid twenties and the wind mild, but we had podium-visions dancing in our minds.
Earlier that morning, we realized it would be better to get a puppy now, rather than April at the start of racing season and made a pact..... we were gonna ride for the podium prizes and take it straight to a breeder for our lil dream puppy.
Jay was the first to mount up and, from the sound of the horn, never looked back. Jay took the hole shot as always and attacked all through the woods and already had seconds on the field as he dropped back on to the ice. As other men manuevered through the shicane, Hwood attacked at full speed, never letting up.
Half way into the race, his lead was solid, but never did he let up, nor did the fans relax. If 2009 taught us anything, we all knew it could be lost at any time. For those of you who don't remember...Hwood held a magnificent lead in the race of '09 and got a flat 1/2 way thru the final lap....allowing him to get caught during the final spin through the pin-wheel-of-death, and struggling to maintain a podium spot in 3rd. As he wound around this course yesterday, that memory haunted our thoughts and whispers as something we feared to acknowledge..... none of us wanted to be the jinx that caused a repeat upset.
So with fervor we cheered, and silently chastised ourselves for thinking of flats, as the minutes slowly counted down. With just one lap to go, the crowd held their collective breaths and screamed in exultation when Hwood crossed the line with arms raised!!!
With seconds to go until my own race began, I wasn't able to congratulate my AMAZING husband, so I focused on my mission ahead. Hollywood Cycles riders won every category thus far, plus sealed a second and fourth place as well....I was the last to do whatever damage I could. Surprisingly to me, the ladies wound up being the main event as hundreds of fans lined the start/ finish area, and hid in the woods and around the course to keep the energy high as we suffered through the effort.
When the horn sounded, I knew my only shot at the title was to be first into the woods. I ground the Frankenbike thru a few gears as I charged out in front, listening to the fast breaths and crunching tires in my ears. Per Hwood's advice, I kept it pinned til we dropped back onto the ice, and focused on railing through the curves without relenting. I held on to the lead as long as I could, but Danielle P. came around me earlier in the game than I would have wished.
With Puppies on the mind, and Hwood's "Puppy Power" encouragement through the mic, I knew I couldn't give up. Before I knew it, Kristi O. came out of left field and came around the pair of us with fresh legs and a whole lotta spunk. The three of us held the pace throughout the race, and the lead role changed multiple times.
The fans were screaming, keeping us on top of our game, and I knew I had to work for my goal. Though I held my place in third, I finished just a second off of 2nd place. I've never ridden harder for a mtn bike race in my life!!! And I've never been a happier third place finisher!!!!! Holy frijoles!
By the time the podiums were mounted, the whole crowd was aware of Hwood and my goal to win money for a puppy.....so, after some wicked large checks were dispersed, where do you think we went????
Hwood and I fought the mid-day snow and drove north to check out a breeder we found. There were four puppies for us to meet but one definitely fit the bill. He was a gorgeous red mini dachshund that was full of energy and was itching to learn as much about us as we were of him. After just a couple hours, we knew we were in for good and couldn't leave without him.
So, we didn't. Meet Lil' Smokey, the latest and greatest of the Wood family (and best podium prize ever). Also soon to be known as S-WooD.
Proud new mamma,