Thursday, 7 June 2007

Issue 19 - Upstate (2), and the pain of a hilly racetrack

The Apteryx Haastii has just come back from a nice weekend in upstate New York. New York "Upstate" is a place which deserves its own name, rather than being lumped in with New York, "The City". Upstate has very little to do with The City, except that neither Upstate nor The City are happy with the idea of having a state government in Albany trying to govern two separate societies and economies. The City believes all of its state tax is spent on roads and infrastructure closer to Canada than to The City, and Upstate believes all of its state tax is spent on welfare payments to inhabitants of Brooklyn and Queens. The only other thing which Upstate and The City agree on is that The City should declare independence from Upstate, leaving both to ignore each other in peace.

On Saturday, we spent the day at the Watkins Glen International Speedway, located on a hill near the town of Watkins Glen, about 5 hours from The City. In a classic bait-and-switch, the Apteryx Haastii was lured to the race track with the promise of Porsche Cup Racing, but arrived to find he had been entered in a duathlon involving running around the infield, then cycling three laps of the track (after the Porsches had all gone home), then another lap of the infield, then another three laps of the track, before stumbling around the infield again. Needless to say, the AH believes watching a 600hp example of precision engineering eat up the track at 100mph is much more fun than hauling his imperfectly engineered carcass around the track at a mere 17mph.

When the AH arrived at the start, it was clear he was well out of his league. The race was endorsed by the US Triathlon Association (with the AH now as their most unlikely member), and there were plenty of carbon-fibre bikes and very fit athletes among the 70 starters.

One thing the AH learned about race tracks is that they are not all built on flat land. In fact, there were three particularly cruel hills which earned a few choice nicknames from the AH, including a long, long, long uphill back straight, which a Porsche would not even feel.

As expected, Kim beat the AH with comfort - coming in 3 minutes faster despite a very sore knee, and placed first in her age group (well, first out of one, but she won a nice trophy all the same). No need to be sarcastic here - to finish at all was a great achievement. After a long, hard 20 miles of riding and 5 miles of running for 2 hours and 23 minutes, the AH was very pleased to beat eight others (avoiding last place being the AH's definition of success in this event), including one with a snazzy carbon-fibre bike.

Next time, I'll read the fine print.

No comments: