There are two burning questions about this year's High Cascades 100: 1.) did the infamous satanic grouse die during the extraordinarily long winter? and 2.) Will Chris Sheppard actually roll out of bed and show up? And if he does, will he manage to stay on course this year? OK, that's technically three questions.
Last year racers were terrorized by a very aggressive grouse, yes, grouse. What can a grouse really do to you? Who knows, but who wants to find out? It definitely thought it could do some damage anyway. Chris Sheppard showed up last year at what is his hometown race, only to take a wrong turn and dash his hopes of victory to little, frustrating bits. Josh Tostado had some "bad luck" as well last year, suffering two flats, falling so far back that this slow-ass reporter was able to hop on his wheel for a few turns before blowing all to hell like a nitro burning funny car. Josh is back, coming off his second place at the Breck 100, having his six race reign of terror broken by a determined Jeff Schalk.
Schalk will not be attending HC100, nor will second place NUE series contender Christian Tanguy. Tostado will have to tangle with 2010 winner Cary "I Have a Wiki page, but it's for skiing; not cycling" Smith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cary_Smith) and Chris Sheppard...maybe. At this hour (it's 2PM on the eve of the race) Sheppard has not shown his face at registration. Who knows...maybe he got lost on his way here. If, I say, if he shows up, he will be a force to be reckoned with, coming hot, just freaking scorching off yet another BC Bike Race win.
A couple of the most dangerous ladies will not be in attendance either, Cheryl Sornson and Sue Butler will be abstaining from the race like a couple of vegan's at Outback Steakhouse. Not that the talent pool is dried up here at the HC100, NUE series leader (and seventh place finisher at MTB Nationals) Amanda Carey will be in attendance. Leadville winner Rebecca Rusch will also be here, which should be prove to be a good battle. The last time the two butted heads was at the Trans Epic a few months back. Carey came out on top in that exchange, we'll see if Rusch can bring her A-war and take down Carey this time around. (What? A-war, it's several notches above an "A-game.")
Gerry Pflug looms over the single speed field like a freakish and terrifying hybrid of Lord Voldemort and Sauron from Lord of The Rings. No Exaggeration. The sky blackened and the birds stopped chirping as he rolled into registration. The only thing to cut through the preternatural silence was the sound of his muscle fibers firing like miniature howitzers as he walked across the room. I shook his hand and my arm came back sheared off to the bone. Greg Martin may be the only man brave or stupid enough to try to hold Pflug's wheel on Saturday. Of course we may find his charred carcass on the side of the trail weeks from now.
The Masters 50+ race looks pretty stacked. Series leader Bill Holden will be challenged by Roger Masse, Robert Herriman, and Doug Andrews.
THIS JUST IN!
Promoter Mike Ripley just got off the phone with Chris Sheppard, he his OUT. He hurt his back ten days ago and he is on the couch right now convalescing with a beer. Too bad, it'll be up to Tostado or some darkhorse to dethrone Cary Smith.
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