Children of the Corn: A Kruger’s Story
That’s not really true, but it used to be fun to say since I’d never done any races there. It’s like a kid with broccoli.
“I hate broccoli!”
“But you’ve never tried it!”
“I hate broccoli!!”
I met Krugers in 2006. On a cold November morning I stood by and watched at Kruger’s Crossing as half the field blew up their derrailleurs and limped home. Krugers is a bike mauler I tell you! A bike destroyer!
I didn’t ride that day and vowed I never would. Kermesse or otherwise. Corn maze or no. No Kruger’s for me!
Then I wake up on Sunday and need a work out. I stretch and yawn and put the pillow over my head. The morning comes in through the skylight and I throw a haphazard leg out from under the covers to test the air. It is nice. Too nice.
Sally brings coffee to the nightstand. It is 7:00am. We went to bed at 8:15pm the night before. I’ve been asleep forever and, goddamit, there’s a bike downstairs to ride.
I drag ass trying to figure out what I’m going to conquer today and by the time I’m rolling I am almost-sort-of-but-not-quite late for my halfway commitment to possibly racing at Krugers.
Bank. Cash. Steel bridge. Train. Long train. Never ending. Screwed.
Backtrack through downtown until I’m cruising on highway 30. There’s a triathlete on my tail and wind at my face. I’m going 16.5mph on knobbies. This isn’t looking real good.
Finally, the tri-woman comes around and I grab her wheel in sweet relief. 19mph. A little better.
My head is full of calculations and each one of them is telling me that I’m going to miss the start. I realize that the real race is now and the other race is just icing. It’s all relative, man.
The tri-girl is going backwards on the slight uphill grade so I come around and stand up. C’mon baby, we have a date to keep! Sip sip on the camelback as I try to stay hydrated. She falls off the back and I imagine that she wasn’t very interested in sucking wheel anyway. Those weird tri people never are.
All of the sudden, hope rises. Teammate Javad passes me in his pickup truck. Sal’s old ‘cross bike is in the back because Jivvles is borrowing it for the season. He sees the kit, looks me in the eyes, and keeps driving.
Frantic waving. Javad! Javad! Stop! You’re my hero! I’ll make it if you stop!
He gets smaller and smaller and I wonder if the tri girl is laughing to herself behind me. I get passed by a strong ox-like Team Beer fellow and somehow manage not to grab his wheel.
Just then, Steve Brown sidles up next to me. Steve Brown. My hero. My buddy. My Perpetual Knight in Shining Spandex. Earlier this year he saved me from certain death during the Timber ride and today he comes to my rescue once again.
Pulling 23mph on my ‘cross bike is hard regardless of the fact that I am glued to Steve’s rear wheel like a parasite. I’m up toward red-lining for most of the pull but we fly into Sauvie’s Island just in the nick of time and I hit the line with 14 seconds to spare.
When the horn goes off, I consider the facts. I don’t know the course, I still have my flat pack and rear taillight attached to the bike, I didn’t put on my gloves, and there’s something like 45 pounds of pressure in my tires. I veer onto the course with the intention of following wheels and realize that despite the totally killer warmup, my legs are full of concrete.
As the washboard kicks in and my molars begin to shatter in the back of my mouth, the field pulls slowly away and I’m dropped. Goddamit this is an expensive way to blow myself up.
I spend the next six laps debating whether or not it makes sense to stop and take some pressure out of the tires or not (I never do). Sal arrives and catches a lap of my suffering, much to my chagrin. I sprint for no reason to try to beat a girl who is not in my field but the effort seems to make the whole ordeal more worthwhile.
Afterward I find her and shake her hand and say, “good race”.
Luckily for me, Sal is the great redeemer. He comes flying into the Master B race playing wingman to Mitch, who time-trials off the front while Sal sits in the chase group, countering attacks and otherwise enjoying the free ride.
Sweet holy mudder mary – it’s beautiful!
Kenji and I tool around the course via hidden connector farm roads, moving from one point to the next so that I can give Mitch the time-gap. It never gets closer than 22 seconds. PV in gold and bronze, just the way I like it.
At the market I buy two small steelhead from a girl with a peasant top, sassy eyeliner, and a bright orange purse. The fish look up at me with dead eyes as she puts them into a plastic bag with ice.
Veloshop crusader Heather Gundersen battles it out in the elite race looking fast and fit and small and unstoppable. Ron “the horse” Babcock demolishes the Master A Category, adding more hardware to the PV treasure trunk with the series win.
When the dust settles I’m sunburnt, sore and two fish richer. We head off into Sunday afternoon in the trusty Honda in search of a grill, red wine, and some hard-earned R&R.
*Chillun of the Corn XIII art provided by none other than our favorite photoshop clown, Kenji Sugahara.