REZ DOGS DEFEND THEIR TURF:
2011 HIGH DESERT SCREAMER
The New Mexico Off Road Series came to Gallup this weekend for the Screamer on the High Desert Trail System . . . and you know how territorial dogs – and especially rez dogs - can be. A report:
1. A DESPERATE DASH IN THE DARK. The build up to the Screamer officially kicked off on Wednesday night when Bob Rosebrough met up with Chuck Van Drunen and Paul Barry at dusk on the Second Mesa overlook. Bob and Chuck were marking the course and Paul came out with a couple of beers. Shortly after Bob pulled up, Chuck announced that Dirk Hollebeek was “poaching” the Screamer. The specific nature of Dirk’s poaching will remain a closely guarded secret on the pages of this blog, because we are dogs. We are not rats or snitches. Chuck looked on, wide eyed with amazement and glee, as Bob - who has always been Dirk’s faithful defender in the intense Chuck v. Dirk drama-fest – insisted that they needed to come up with a plan to mess with Dirk at the Screamer starting line. To complete the role reversal, Chuck advised caution. (Yes, you read that right. Chuck advised caution.) Needless to say, the topic of Dirk’s poaching, beer and an amazing view combined into the inevitable – yet another desperate dash in the dark back to the trucks.
2. CLASH OF THE TITANS. On race day there was fervent speculation about how the battle between Chuck, Dirk and Andy Stravers would end up. The consensus was that Chuck was the slight favorite – given his strong results this year - but that Dirk and Andy were both very capable of edging him out. Dirk, after all, showed fantastic form just last weekend and even though Andy has been spent most of the year running instead of biking, he is Andy and that means he is always a threat even against guys in top form. Chuck – who has been famously unfocused before NMORS races in years past – sent a clear message when he showed up with a fresh haircut, clean shave and a small, light racing camelback instead of his 31-compartment-Gallup-flea-market-behemoth. After the pros came in, the tension began to mount and the Gallup crowd began moving over to the finish line - all looking to see which one of our top dogs would come over the stock pond hill first.
3. AND THE WINNER IS. Not too long after the top pros in New Mexico (Calvert, McCalla, Brenneman & Nielsen) blazed through the finish area, a tightly spaced group of 30+ Cat 1s came through that included (drum roll please!) Chuck as the first Rez Dog. At 2:11:10, Chuck was only 38 seconds off the pace set by former Gallupian, Hadji Corona, who finished first in the super competitive Cat 1 30+ category. Andy came in impressively - less than two minutes behind Chuck. Dirk had a respectable time, but came in well back of Chuck and Andy after cramping up badly. Although Dirk is continuing to work through some health and diet issues there was some speculation that he was simply suffering the karmic effect of all the pain he dished out last weekend and that, as bad as his cramps were, the pain he suffered was less than 25% of the pain he dealt out to the rest of the pack on the Care 66 ride. As always: We report; you decide.
4. TWO CLYDESDALES AND A GHOST. There was no prerace speculation about which of the three Cat 2 Rez Dogs would prevail. It was a foregone conclusion that Chad “the Ghost” Meekhof, who was last year’s overall Cat 2 winner would come in before the two Rez Dog Clydesdales: Kevin Zwiers and Bob. Kevin (who only registered 30 minutes before the race and four days earlier became a new father) and Bob swapped places three times on the course before Kevin pulled away from Bob for good at the midway point on Second Mesa to finish in 1:38:07. Chad won the 19-29 category and was second place overall in Cat 2 in a time of 1:28:41 on the 18 mile course. (photographer's note: Chad was so fast I couldn't even get a picture!) Chad was bumped out of first place overall by a sandbagging Cat 1 roadie who raced Cat 2 on the mountain bike. The same guy bumped Bob down to second place in the 50+ category at 1:39:19.
5. TWO OLDTIMERS AND A NEW STAR. There were a couple of double takes when old timer Billy McCarthy – who used to terrorize the local road race circuit in the late 80s and early 90s - showed up on a pre-historic Schwinn and put in a respectable effort in Cat 2 in his first mountain bike race. Mike Heredia won the new 60+ category in Cat 3 and star-in-the-making Holly Herr was the overall female winner in Cat 3. Following close being was 1st timer Heather Haveman coming in 3rd place.
6. A BOLO TIE FOR AN INSPIRATING GUY. This year’s Honorary Grand Marshall for the Screamer was Doug Schneebeck. Doug is a former Cat 1 rider for the Sport Systems team and a three time finisher of the Leadville 100. A year and a half ago he was diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) but he is still riding – although now as a Cat 3. Doug helped with the start and the awards – many of which went to his Sport Systems teammates. It was heart rendering to see the emotion and affection shared by Doug and the other racers – and especially his teammates - during the awards ceremony. Pro rider, Damien Calvert gave the beautiful Zuni bolo tie he was awarded as overall male winner to Doug at the end of the awards ceremony.