My great beetstiality binge started early in the week, eating a fermented beet product called "Liv."
It culminated Friday afternoon when the beetsiology overcame me and I drank a bottle of beet juice and, for good measure, a Good Stuff Eatery Large Toasted Marshmallow shake, side by side:
To Big Jim's Port-O-Let Company (Your Shit's Our Bread and Butter™), or whoever provided the facilities, to my fellow racers, to the citizens of Stanley, to all decent men and women and many animals of the Eastern Seabord...
You might have guessed, since I'm talking about offal rather than racing, I didn't succeed, but that isn't totally true. I won in the way that all children today win, in the way all attendees of Oprah's Favorite Things show win, in the way that lottery winners win--by just showing up and being stupid enough to try.
Of course, I totally got dropped.
I have some great excuses, including the one I just let off with: excessive beet ingestion.
The night before the race my son woke up twice with some issues of his own, so in being an exceedingly good dad, handy with the diaper and the bottle, I gave up my chances at a silly ol' bike race.
My brass balls are getting exceedingly heavy and the lubrication is wearing thin.
But the best is...
I worked for a teammate. Or, as one droppee said at one race one time to one of my teammates: "We all have our roles."
And my role was to be a fat-ass, useless beet juice swiller.
Two laps in and the field was strung out like Joe Jefferson used to say Amy Winehouse was (too soon?). A break was up the road. Kelly and Battley had half the field between them, and my little squad of four was hoping it wasn't over.
Thanks to some super crazy pulling on the flats by Bike Doctor and DC Velo, it definitely was not over.
Soon after, several ejaculates (bridge moves, let's call them) shot off the front and made their way to swell the break to 10: including 7 Kelly, 5 Battley, a camel, a goat cart, a clown car, Tommy Danielson's conscience (it's long since declared independence from him), and my teammate Steven Kusy. Yes, the math is off, but let's get beyond whole numbers and think of some of these things as fractions.
To the point, I felt pretty good in terms of not feeling bad about letting myself fall off the back on the climb.
I rode back to the port-o-lets, and then grabbed some of this stuff from a nice guy named Carson:
I talked to a native about the loss of a chicken plant, and how nearly everyone in the valley had strong feelings on its departure, one way or the other.
I said it sure smelled fine without them. He frowned and looked at the Port-O-Lets.
I hustled back in time to see Kusy nearly win the damned jersey.
But here's the podium, with the good old man Keck still kicking despite the handicap of a child-shaped grown on his back. Yep, he managed fourth with that absolutely adorable little tumor attached to his upper back.
My own part in the race will be forgotten. I'll forget it as soon as my dementia lets me.
Funny that I still remember every detail of the previous time I raced here in 2013, and I had some chance at a result. I still wonder about some of my choices. Because when you have fitness only for a moment, the things you do with it become that much more poignant.
If you're like these guys on the podium, guys like Keck or Guttenplan, this is just how things go, and you're disappointed you didn't win.
Of course, it's a great race. You only have to look at the swag in their hands to see that Chris Gould, the race director, puts thought and work into it to make it special.
We stopped for a picture after we hit up the Hawksbill Diner for Watergate salad, pickled eggs, and country fried steak. As we did, two Confederate flags, born high upon the mighty bed of a previous generation F-150, ripped past to the sound of a massive backfire, and we all saluted it with a "YEEEEHAW!!!" The South puts off rising again for another year.
We headed up to Luray and the blue moon was goon, our guts were full, our trophy cabinet remained empty, but, damnit, Page Valley rules.