CHAFE 150 and swim officials declared biased

By Tim Henney

Reader Humor Contributor

Several decades ago when my wife, Jacquelynn, and I were even younger than we are now and were effete East Coast corporate urbanites (having already been collegiate California quasi-beatniks), the Boston Marathon was won, temporarily, by a pseudo-distance runner named Rosy Ruiz. Perhaps aware that she was in well over her head among globally famous marathoners, Rosy hopped a subway train and then, mere yards from the finish line, burst splendidly out of the underground station and trotted to victory. Devious cheater though she was, one could hardly help from obliquely admiring Rosy’s chutzpah, creativity and derring-do.

Perhaps with Rosy Ruiz embedded in our subconscious, Jacquelynn and I rode last summer in Sandpoint’s CHaFE 150-mile bike race—and won it. The biased and picky-picky ride officials, however, refused to award us the blue ribbon. Possibly because we rode a 2003 Dodge Durango SUV with our bikes lashed to the back instead of riding the bikes themselves. I mean, our mamas didn’t raise no fools. However, our caring, CHaFE-riding Sandpoint son, Justin, showing parental compassion, said our failure to receive the blue ribbon was probably not from a lack of talent but because the officials didn’t like our stupid, bourgeois bikes. Featuring 1940s balloon ties, furry seats and rubber duckies on the handlebars, we considered them state-of-the-art. In furious bike races on rural Selkirk Road, we sometimes zoom up behind unsuspecting neighbors riding even more dated bikes, move deftly into professional drafting position, and squeeze our duckies. Quack! Squawk! Scares the hell out of people, especially bikers. Some fall off their bikes. Dejected yet still capable of good sportsmanship despite discrimination by the CHaFE officials, we declined to file a complaint. Instead, like troupers, my 1957 bride and I repaired to the adjacent Trinity bar with family members who had come to celebrate our anticipated win. There we pouted the evening away over rum punches.

Not the sort to toss in the towel, Jacquelynn and I then entered the vaunted Long Bridge Swim. Except we elected not to swim. Sissies, like son Justin, always swim with the herd, like lemmings. Head lemming is local entrepreneur Jim Zuberbuhler, who has too little hair and too difficult a name to properly organize a Long Bridge Swim. Marching to the proverbial different drummer, Jacquelynn and I took a more rigorous route. Hiding the Durango behind trees at Dog Beach, we pedaled bikes down the trail to the bridge, then over the bridge to the starting line. We dodged masses of thoughtless walkers, joggers and bikers who kept getting in our way, clogging up the trail, many with dogs. There were also too many old people. Old people amble and talk, rather than rush madly, as one should. If kids, dogs and old people were prohibited from watching the Long Bridge Swim, it would be better for trained athletes like us. Whereas some 900 swimmers merrily splashed their way from one end of the Long Bridge to the other in the refreshing, cool lake water, we lurched and skidded across the hot, jam-packed bridge cement on bikes, honking our handlebar duckies, blasting through cheering throngs. Throngs, I regret to say, cheering not for us but for those in the water. And then we rode back again! As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough honk their duckies. And we did, as we battled our way back through applauding crowds, aggravating kids and dogs and, most annoying of all, old people.

Wary of judges because of our humiliating experience with the CHaFE 150, we paused furtively near where the swimmers would soon stagger onto the beach. Jacquelynn, who despises cheaters, especially me, hid in the Durango. Emulating the great Rosy Ruiz of the Boston Marathon, I stealthily positioned myself at the finish line amongst the race officials and beneath the time clock. Tossing my head athletically, as if shedding lake water, I said, “It was really choppy out there,” and, “Dang, two seconds slower than last year.” Regrettably, I was not wearing a speedo or wetsuit. I wore hiking boots, shorts and a floppy hat—more a sagging L.L. Bean wannabe than a Michael Phelps lookalike. Alas, one can’t think of everything.

The race timers, who suspiciously resembled those who had rejected our victory at the earlier CHaFE 150, were just as inept. Clearly lacking in community relations skills, several told me to move out of the way as swimmers came tumbling over the finish line. Fed up with inferior officiating, my bride and I drove the Durango straight to the bar at Baxters on Cedar. There we commandeered a bottle of Pinot Noir—and sulked.


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