Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Great Gourd Race of Columbus

This is how it started. Not long the whistle blew it ended quickly for many due to a large number of flats and rolled tires at the Columbus Park Tailwind race this past weekend.

Dateline: The Great Gourd Cyclocross Race of 2012. It happened on a sunny weekend in the forgotten thumb of Michigan mid-September. While our racers are poised at the line for the launch of the race I need to race back to the day before. Since the race was in Columbus, Almost-Canada, Michigan, members of the CBX Team decided to camp nearby - as in Imlay City, only about 30-minutes from the course. While waiting for the team to arrive, I pitched my tent and kitted up for an easy-day-before-race ride and recon of Imlay City. As with Munson, and the Great Pumpkin Contest of years before, I discovered a fantastic GOURD FESTIVAL in progess! Imagine that ... only in Imlay City!

I never imagined I would stumble into Michigan Gourd Artisans. That's what happens if you ride that bike around enough.

The Imlay City Gourd Festival Welcome Lady: Did you sneak in here on that bike? 
Me: Yup, I did. Mind if I lean my bike up against your cow?
Imlay City Gourd Festival Welcome Lady: No problem. Gotta light?

Yes I did sneak into the Festival, just as it was breaking up. I only wished that I could have been there earlier when it was in full-swing. I missed the Gourd Tossing, Gourd Swallowing, and Gourd Gulping contests. Too bad, it looked like Gourds of fun!

Just like a Cyclocross Race, people bring their tricked out Gourd-Vans packed with too much equipment, general useless shit, and gourds. Wonder how many extra Tubular Gourds they have inside?

See what I mean? If Big Mac was into Gourds instead of 'cross the side of his van wouldn't look like this but would look like this ...

Are those Dugast Handmade Round 34-Gourds, or are you just happy to see me?

Or are they handy Hooker Gourds, just hanging around?

Or are they Long Dong Gourds? Yeah, I guess you guys are happy to see me afterall.

I learned a lot about Gourds on my visit to the Gourd Festival in Imlay City that day.

Like after stretching and curling them and curing them for a year you end up carving and painting them up and making some Chotckies like these things. This is the stuff that goes to Garage Sales to die.

Gourd Security demanding that I "Get the Gourd out of here, you filthy Cyclist!"

Finally it was discovered that I had snuck into the Gourd Festival without paying. (In my defense I never saw a gate, ticket taker or any place to leave an envelope of change.) So I rolled back to the tent just as the team was arriving. After searching for an hour we had to drive back to Grand Rapids to find something to eat.

Dateline: Flash-foward to race morning. While we all like to get to the race early, there was a little problem at about 7:30. After driving 4-hours or something to get here, over the weekend, we discovered that in the middle-of-fucking-nowhere an automated gate that wouldn't admit us until 8:00 am. That was the beginning of  the end in my book. Routines and schedules were all of course after that and trouble was bound to ensue.

Like a Bank Vault, the Colombus Park had a time lock that kept us out until an appointed time. Wonder what they are hiding inside.

I thought about "Jimmying" the lock for a moment, although I know nothing about "Jimmying" anything, but decided better of it when I saw this sign. This look even more serious than riding Luton when wet.

Adam, back at the start line of a great big B-Field. Another good race for Big Mac with another podium finish.Too bad the his A bike broke before the start of the B race. Guess it's fitting he rode the B bike in the B race, right?

So after all that, the races began. The grounds were great and the amenities, the bathrooms and so on, were fabulous, yes fabulous bathrooms, I said it. The course was good, with swooping downhills, another sledding hill run-up, and some long road-race flats below, and a tough grave road climb back up into the park. The only bad part was an extremely bumpy section that must have ruined about six to a dozen tires. Including the Limus of World Famous Cyclocross Cover Girl Sarah McIntyre ...

Sarah drowning her sorrows in a Red Bull after flatting on the first lap and being about a mile and a half from the pit. Same thing happened to Tom Burke and Mike Seamen and many others. Tough day for tires on a course that was pretty smooth for the most part.

The swooping downhill was actually fun to ride.

But the fun ended too soon and was immediately followed by ...

Yeah you guessed it ...

Another ...

Fucking sledding hill!

Interestingly enough some of our biggest fans showed up to heckle us at the Columbus race. That's right, it's those freakin' Killer Chihauhaus. Their little feet must have really hurt to come all this way. But screw them, that's there problem. Little Bastards ...

After all that I returned home to put up some hay, and sweat out my disgust over a DFL and a DNF like I was some kind of detoxifying big outdoor sweat lodge for losers.

After the hay was cleared I looked across the clean field and thought: "gee we could put on a Cyclocross Race here." But then I immediatly thought: "No way. There's no Sledding Hill!"


  1. In the United States, during the late 20th century, if someone behaved strangely or said something odd, would someone who observed or heard said person sometimes say to them, "Are you out of your gourd?"? Or am I just imagining that senseless expression?

  2. No, that's the expression. Gourd, nuts, it was all crazy stuff. British origin I believe. Yeah, this is a real educational blog, innit?