They say it rains "Cats and Dogs" which always makes me remember that line from that fun movie "GhostBusters" where Dr. Venkman is explaining what will happen if the evil forces at play get control... "Dogs and Cats living together...mass hysteria!"
While mass hysteria wasn't prevalent at this years 24 Hours of Booty...the "Dogs and Cats' were very much falling from the sky...
The event, a fund raiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Ulman Cancer Fund was scheduled to start at four this past Saturday afternoon and indeed it did...albeit a few minutes late. It started just about the same time the rain proceeded to come down in earnest. It rained in earnest for the next 19 hours.
I had visions of riding at least three hundered
miles but my training had been lacking due to a foot injury and time off. I surely had less milage in the legs than last year when I rode the three hundred on the trainer when Booty was canceled. This time out it was just a spin and a time to ponder the past present and future...
At about 4:10 the cancer survivors and major fund raisers were off in a lap of honor and the rest of us waited a few minutes. We began our first lap of the course...a 2.5 mile loop in a business park outside of Columbia, Maryland. The first time the Booty folks have done an event away from the original "Booty Loop" in Charlotte.
The loop is a combo platter of flats, slight up hills, and a good descent with a 90 degree turn at the bottom. One easy climb. Overall a fun and safe course...
Every type of rider is there. Little kids on BMX...a hoot to watch, once in awhile bikies and some hammer heads. Most are in teams and take turns doing loops while the others on the team sleep, snack and hang out. There are a few solo riders, of which I'm one..but they don't make themselves obvious till late in the evening in the pouring rain and you notice they haven't gone in for a break either.
There is one guy on a Unicycle. A woman, a cancer survivor, being pulled along in a pedi-cab.
Bikes worth thousands of dollars and rusty clunkers squeaking along. No ego here, which I liked...just folks riding together for a cause. Rusty Clunker chatting with Mr. 5K Cervelo about the rain, cancer and their families.
I ride pretty consistently even though the rain just comes down in sheets at times I roll in for water and snacks and to smooch the wife who has come to support me...bless her. Standing in the rain, sleeping in a wet tent and all the time a smile...
About eight p.m. ML heads for the tent and I head into a cold night. The rain picks up and the temps drop after dark. It's obvious. I'm wearing three layers, one water proof, and if I stop moving...i get cold. As I talk to folks I find it doesn't matter what you're wearing...plastic, rubber or Gore-Tex...it doesn't take long until you're wet. It reminds me of Spanky, who told me quite a long time ago, "Rain gear is only meant to keep you dry till you can get the hell out of the rain."
The laps zip by and after awhile you notice who to avoid because of sketchy bike handling skills and who it's OK to ride next to. On the descent with the turn, in the pouring rain, some are confident and others a screaming mess quite gripped with fear.
As the evening wears on the rain picks up and just pounds folks. By ten p.m. numbers on the road thin and by eleven the riders have thinned even more. It's cold, as in see your breath cold, raining and a bit windy. By midnight I'm alone with the exception three, maybe four other riders.
I'm starting to have trouble staying warm. Calories don't help and dry clothes would be useless in a few minutes. I'm at 128 miles ( 12:30) and decide it's time for some solid food from the midnight pizza party. I don't make it back out. Shivering I head to the Honda get into some dry clothes and go over to the tent and the somewhat sleeping Mary Lou. I decide to wait two hours and see which way the wind is blowing. As I zip up the tent, another solo rider is getting into her tent nearby. She's had enough too.
One o'clock, two, two- thirty...it just pours and the wind picks up. Finally about three I'm up and about and the rain is better but only just. Dry clothes on, food and I'm back out. The forecast calls for clearing, but that must be in some other state, because it rains here all morning.
By ten, I'm wet, shivering and just about had enough...ML left for home at sun up and can't say as I blame her!
I decide that I'll go another 122 miles to make it a round 250 and then bag it. At 11:30 a.m., DONE and MAN! It feels good to get dry clothes on. I chat with a few folks, get breakfast, and some are just heading out to ride...with a good number just arriving to ride. They told me they didn't want to ride in the rain last night so they decided to come in the morning.
Lots of riders there wearing "I'm riding in Memory of..." signs and I thought about what I was riding for while there. Was I riding in memory of someone? Mom and Dad? Mary? UJ or anyone else I know who has had to deal with cancer?
I decided I was riding for everyone who hasn't been stricken yet and considering how cancer has hammered my family, probably myself.