Competition in this Great Race is tough and toughening! We were first out today, an honor accorded the ‘hometown’ Racers. We’re not quite as close as last year in Saratoga; but I guess we were closest among the New Yorkers. No hacking today for us – but we ran an error-free race. But with a 2, 4, 9 and -9, our 24 second total was way off the improving pace. The Experts and many of the Sportsmen and even Rookies are improving fast, while we seem to be stuck at our level of masterful mediocrity. I’m tempted to blame the car – thinking we have reached the limits that can be achieved with a big car (limited cornering ability) and a slushbox transmission (hard to hold speed over hills as conditions change from on-power to on-brake – no engine braking).
Or maybe our lucky buzzards, which have appeared each race day so far, really aren’t the lucky omens we thought…
Or maybe we’ve just reached the limits of our own talent and skill. But then, there’s always tomorrow. Our side race with the Fredettes is almost certainly lost, as they have now beat us 4 days to 1. We need to beat them all the remaining days to recover and that’s not too likely. Fortunately they’re good sports and won’t insist on the whole million dollars we bet them. Through today, we’ve dropped to 5th or 6th in Sportsman and from about 28th to 35th overall – solidly midfield and sliding!
The race today ran from Ottawa across the US border and the spindly but pretty Thousand Islands bridge to Watertown, NY, with lunch in downtown Kingston, Ontario. I wish there were more time to explore that city – so much history, so well kept! Even Dave said he’d like to come back for more there. How can you not want to know more about a place with streets named like this:
Things are getting a little hillier and more interesting as these U.S. roads were laid out years before their Canadian counterparts – and apparently well before Man invented the straight line. We stopped for the afternoon in Clayton, NY – a lovely town beside the St. Lawrence. Under blue skies and breezes we toured their fabulous antique boat museum, including Garwoods and Hackers and some very cool old engines by some very creative folks!
The course included lots of farms and fields, with small towns and forest all mixed in – the very best for this kind of rally. We noticed a lot of split-rail fences around those fields and wondered how they came to be a local preference. Even with Internet search, how does one find that kind of answer? Our rally directions included a bevy of road intersection signs that were hard to describe. They were the usual bend or turn arrows on a yellow diamond field, but with one or more minor roads also shown where they connected to the primary route. In some cases, we could say ‘a left curve with a spur on the right’ or some such; but in at least one case, Dave gave up and just said ‘It’s a curve sign with porcupine quills!’ as there were so many little spurs.
We nearly whacked a grouse today, too. As we shot through a forested stretch, he (or she) was slowly working across the road and had approached the center line as we blew by. Standing there in the middle like Corky at the Finish Line, it took no notice of us, and took another methodical step or two as we approached and another that I could see in the rearview mirror. I hope he made it over before the next Racer arrived!
So, we didn’t stay in place, but fell behind a bit. So What?! We’re having FUN! We’ll Get Up Tomorrow and Kick It AGAIN!