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Travails of An Aspiring Pro: Impound Fees

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |September 23, 2012 3:42 PM

Impound Fees

 Written by: Ernie Watenpaugh

Itís amazing what can happen in the course of a week.  After pulling in a stellar second place finish in front of a home crowd at the Colorado State Championships in Telluride, CO, a week later I found myself stranded and beaten to a pulp praying just to get back home.  Truly one of those "Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, wellÖ he eats youĒ scenarios.

I pulled into Redgranite, Wisconsin late Wednesday night feeling pretty worn down after a couple flights and a tour through Wisconsin, but I was ecstatic about the race.  The last Pro XCT race and the National Championships had gone extremely well, and I was finally collecting some valuable UCI points to help me secure a respectable starting position for these big races.  I knew with a couple days of getting comfortable with the course and getting off my feet, I could build off my previous results.

I had never been to Wisconsin, and was pretty surprised to find Mt. Morris deep off the county back roads, tucked away between cornfields.  I know that good riding can be found almost anywhere, but I had some reservations driving through rural Wisconsin.  My doubts were soon squashed as I found a fairly demanding, almost entirely singletrack, power course that I was certain was going to be a very strategic race. Steep punchy climbs, rocky line critical descents, and cyclocross style twists and turns made it difficult to find a rhythm and demanded constant focus. Some of my favorite riding conditions.

Saturday afternoon I got called up to the third row right next to the series leader Colin Cares in the unbelievably stacked field.  I had a pretty solid start flying blind through a dust cloud that made the wheel in front of me all but invisible.  I came into the first climb having only given up a couple positions, most of which I quickly took back.  The pace was brutally fast and if you stumbled in one of the rock sections or fell off the line, someone was always there to take your place.  I was descending a little too aggressively when I caught a bad bounce and slashed the sidewall in my rear tire.  I couldnít get the sealant to hold, so I was forced to put in a tube.  The fix cost me some serious time, but seeing that it was still the first lap in the six-lap race, the day was far from over. 

When I finally got back on the bike I was almost dead last in the 60-person field.  Fueled by a little pent up rage, I went to work tearing through the pack.  The legs felt awesome and I was handling the bike well, but then there was an even bigger problem than the flat. I didnít have someone to hand me bottles in one of the feed zones, so I was relying on the neutral feed to give me fluids.  At every bike race I have ever been to, they have all had a feed zone where they would hand out water bottles full of water to anyone who wanted one.  I guess they do things differently in Wisconsin.  All they had for the neutral feed were tiny Styrofoam cups of water with several very timid teenagers trying to pass them off.  I missed all three handoffs during my rampage in the first three laps.  Even if I would have got those three tiny cups of water, there is no way that would have been enough water to keep me from blowing up.

With two laps to go, I had managed to climb back up into 22nd, but the lack of fluids took a heavy toll. Those last two laps were some of the worst of my life.  There are only a few things that I hate more than having to drop out of a race, but it literally took everything in me just to finish.  I had to watch as guys I normally could beat without question leave me in the dust as I struggled just to turn the pedals over.  I didnít get pulled off the course, and somehow I salvaged a 33rd place.  I was fuming from the disappointing finish, but little did I know things were about to get even worse.

I got back into Denver Sunday morning, and had my brother take me up to Fort Collins to pick up an old car I left behind in a recent move.  After making the trek up to the Fort, we pulled into the parking lot where I left the vehicle to find it had disappeared.  I had been assured it would be fine to leave the car there for a couple months, and even had my mother in-law come by the week before to make sure it was still there.  After some white knuckled phone calls, I found out that the parking lot had been paved days before and the car had been impounded outside of town.  I didnít have enough cash to bail my car out, and seeing that it was Sunday and the banks were closed and there is no Western Union where my family lives, I would have to wait till the next day to get the money transferred.

The next morning I got the cash and planned to meet the tow manís daughter at the impound lot to get my car back.  Just as my brother and I pulled up to the lot, I got a call from the daughter telling me that they had parked in my car and would not be able to get my car out until 4 pm that afternoon.  I totally lost my cool, but somewhere in my ranting I convinced the girl to take off some of the fees.  I returned at four and paid my dues psyched to finally leave my troubles behind.  I knew the battery would be dead after months of inactivity, but I popped the hood to find a horribly corroded battery that would not hold a charge.  It was 4:40 pm and the girl told me I had until 5 pm to go get another battery and get my car out of the lot.  In a total frenzy we broke numerous traffic laws, grabbed a new battery, and got back to the impound lot just as five rolled around. 

I parked my lingering frustrations in that impound lot, and I hope some of the bad luck will keep them company.  The season is drawing to a close, but I donít want to finish the year with a bitter taste in my mouth.  I think the tables have turned and now itís my turn to take on the bar.  At least for the moment.

I would like to thank Tokyo Joeís, Slipnot Traction, Larry Young at Trek Bikes, Box Canyon Bikes, Gale Bernhardt, and especially my family for all the support.  You can also follow me on Twitter @earnestbuck.

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