Getting to a bike race the hardest part |

Getting to a bike race the hardest part

FemaelstromAlison OsiusGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

We arrived at Don Gilberto’s, a takeout place in Montrose, to find our friend Laurie and five kids at a table. All of us were headed for the same mountain-bike race in Telluride. Laurie left home over two hours before we did, just after installing a beefy, costly bike rack on the back of the family RV.The rack had been falling off, Laurie told us in despair, and the bikes dragging: “We’ve already lost one front end.” The bike rack, the kids in her group calculated, carries over $20,000 in cargo. That might sound shocking except that Laurie’s son, Sam, 17, works in a bike shop and built his own bike; another bike was on loan from the shop; and another belongs her husband, who was at his niece’s rehearsal dinner (though skipping the wedding). All the bikes were stacked in the RV among the passengers.I can’t say my day, which happened to be my birthday, had gone so smoothly, either. The first thing I saw that morning in the driveway, as I hurried off for work, where we were on deadline, was my car with a flat tire.Finally arriving at the familiar campground right at the base of the town of Telluride, we joined Lori (similar name, different person), who had struggled all day with Internet problems in trying to reserve a discount group condo for the bike-series finale, while having to pack for camping and also to pick up a huge fish tank (another story), and while her highly-trained avalanche dog Kaya ran away twice. The first time, Kaya came home having rolled in feces; then, as her soiled collar swished in the washing machine, Kaya escaped again, this time with no identification.Lori’s day was about to get worse. In the night, her son Tanner threw up eight times. It’s bad enough when a child throws up in a house, with a washing machine nearby. It’s worse in a camper with doors that automatically lock, impeding exit.The next morning Tanner, wanting to bike race, airily answered my concerned queries with, “Oh, I’m fine!”That night, after the kids practiced their downhill course, a few of us dropped by the home of some local friends. The collective kids, seven boys aged 8 to 13, and one girl, Griffin, 10, vanished downstairs.I eventually strolled to the den containing them, peered through frosted-glass doors, and heard a sentry cry, “Everyone stop!”All turned frozen smiles to me. Tanner and Taggert were flat on their backs, panting, on enormous beanbag chairs.”What’s going on?” I said.”Nothing,” they chorused. Tanner and Taggert pant the word.Later we got the full rundown, and were amazed – that no one went to the hospital. The boys had held a wrestling tournament, as they delicately couch it; they really call the game Fight. As each stepped up, he asked, “Who do I fight?”Only the boys had battled, but Griffin had leapt in, vigorously hitting them with pillows.Our younger son, Roy, said brightly, “You fight until someone cries or says, ‘Mercy.’ One time Teddy had me down and I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t even cry!”When we protested, he hastened to say, “We have a lot of rules. No choking, no scratching, no race cars.” (I asked – trust me, you don’t want to know.) “No typewriters.”Typewriters?”That’s when you get a guy down, and type on his chest. It tickles, it’s torture,” Roy said. “You type something like, ‘Dear Ted, So sorry!’ And – ching!” He hit an imaginary return, smacking his cheek in demonstration.”My neck’s stiff,” Teddy murmured.”I got Madison in a headlock and slowly squeezed,” Roy said. “His jaw was getting pushed sideways.”Madison said fondly, using a small, creaky voice, “I said, ‘Mer-r-r-cy.'”How’d the kids do the next day in the race? However. We’re lucky we made it to the start.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at

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