My Race Report and the Museum of Clean

I think Stef may have mentioned on Facebook that I was racing this past weekend. Of course, we took Lance, so I thought I’d give everyone a recap of how the weekend went.

Yours truly, rocking the pink kit, at the start of the 2016 Tax Day Circuit Race.

Yours truly, rocking the pink kit, at the start of the 2016 Tax Day Circuit Race.

First off, once again, I just have to say that going to a bike race with an RV changes the whole experience for the better.  If you’re a racer, think about eating a hot pre-race breakfast and sipping coffee while watching the other guys try to pin on numbers on their steering wheel and wait in line for the port-o-johns, and you’ll understand why.

OK. Be honest. Where would you rather hang out while waiting for your race to start?

OK. Be honest. Where would you rather hang out while waiting for your race to start?

But the awesomeness actually starts hours before that, at 4 am when you’re still asleep because you didn’t have to drive to the race start.  And that’s how this race was.  The start was in Arimo, Idaho.  Not a big town, to be sure.  But it was much better to stay there in the RV than to drive up from Salt Lake City that morning.

The start and finish area was staged at the local high school.  We usually like to spend the night right at the start.  When the races are pretty remote we usually can, but school buildings can be hit or miss.  They’re probably safe, but they’re also likely to get you woken up by the local law enforcement, who are just doing their job preventing mischief.  I had forgotten to call the local authorities ahead of time, and when we got to the school, there were two sheriff’s vehicles parked there.  We took that to mean they didn’t want people spending the night, and headed 5 miles away to a Flying J that allowed overnight parking.  Not quite as quiet, but much better than driving up from Salt Lake in the morning.

Still in it at the halfway point.

Still in it at the halfway point.

Temperature at race time was a balmy 46 degrees, which was only cold until the moment we started racing.  The race was a circuit race, which for my category meant two laps of a 16.something mile course.  I didn’t know what to expect from the course, as I’d never done this race before.  I also didn’t know what to expect from myself, as I hadn’t really trained for the race, but just decided to do it on a whim two days before.

But all in all, I had a great time!  The course had hills (thankfully not mountains), which worked out OK for me because I usually get dropped on climbs.  But not this day!  I didn’t have trouble with the hills on this course, but I did have trouble with the corners.  They were 90 degrees and un-swept (gravel in the corners), and I’m a bit of a chicken bike handler anyways.  So the corners had me slowing down too much and then sprinting to catch back on to the group, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

What I did have trouble with was my bike.  Apparently, I’m in serious need of a tune-up.  On the second lap, my chain fell off as I switched back up to the big ring.  I eventually got it back on and rejoined the group, but was afraid to touch the front gearing after that.  And shortly after that, my rear derailleur started skipping whenever I would put a lot of torque on the pedals.  I tried fiddling with the cable tension, and got it to improve a bit, but there’s only so much you can do while you’re actually racing.  It would still skip occasionally and send me lurching forward while the bike didn’t accelerate like it should.

With my bike in that condition, it would have been dangerous to sprint, so I relegated myself to the back of the pack and was going to just ride it in.  But then, at 2 miles to go there was a crash in the peloton as riders were starting to jockey for position.  It was a pretty spectacular crash – with wheels flying in the air and stuff – but fortunately, nobody else went down, and the rider was sitting up (and swearing) in the road as I went by, so I think he was OK.  The unfortunate part, of course, is that starting off in the back of the group, and unable to accelerate properly due to my wonky bike, that crash pretty much knocked me off the race.  There was one other rider who had been caught out as well, and though we tried to catch back on, the group was winding up for a sprint, and it was 2 vs. 15.  He and I finished about 20 seconds off the group.

In my rule book, these two guys get the same time as that group just up the road...

In my rule book, these two guys get the same time as that group just up the road.

There’s a rule in stage racing that if you’re caught behind a crash in the last few kilometers, you are given the same time as the rest of your group.  I’m just going to assume that rule was in play on Saturday, and call it a group finish.

this, by the way, is what the bottom of your bike looks like after racing through cow country…

This, by the way, is what the bottom of your bike looks like after racing through cow country.  Ewww.

Back at Lance, the awesomeness continued as I got a hot shower and a hot coffee while the other riders piled back into their cars and went looking for a gas station.

Oh, and by the way, THERE WERE NO BLASTS OF COLD WATER IN MY POST-RACE SHOWER!  The shower modifications I had made the week before worked like a champ, and it was a glorious, hot, and well deserved shower in the parking lot of Marsh Valley High School.

With the race over and me cleaned up, we realized we were only about 30 minutes from Pocatello, Idaho, so we decided to see what we could find in Pocatello.  And after grinding out 33 miles in 90 minutes, I wanted to find lunch!  We googled up a highly rated sandwich shop in Pocatello, and were off to EFresh.

OK. It's not San Francisco or anything, but downtown streets were no problem for Lance.

OK. It’s not San Francisco or anything, but downtown streets were no problem for Lance.

EFresh was downtown, which meant one-way streets and parallel parking, which is no problem for us in a Class B.  EFresh was also freaking awesome.  I got a “Luchador” sandwich, and Stefany got something called (fittingly) a “princess salad”.

One of us was being "good" at lunch.

One of us was being “good” at lunch.

And clearly, one of us was not.

And clearly, one of us was not.

After a race, I feel entitled to eat things I normally don’t.  And it’s so worth it!

Feeling satiated, we headed toward the other Pocatello landmark I had been itching to see:  The Museum of Clean.  But there’s a bit of a back story here.

You may hear Stefany mention “gnomes” from time to time.  You see, there are many things that happen in Stef’s life and she has no idea how they happen.  So she assumes that “gnomes” are responsible.  She has no idea how the trash gets taken out, or how the bed gets made.  She wonders how the dishes mysteriously walk from the sink into the dishwasher, and how the K-cup machine always seems to be full of water.  And she’s never figured out how, regardless of where she drops them, her dirty clothes show up a few days later clean and folded in little piles in front of her dresser on the carpet that strangely vacuums itself.  She just assumes that “the gnomes” are taking care of it all.  An entire army of gnomes…

Stefany's gnomes are actually far too busy to lounge around on toadstools like this,

Stefany’s gnomes are actually far too busy to lounge around on toadstools like this.

Of course, there are no gnomes.

Stef jokes from time to time that I’m OCD.  I’m actually not, but relative to her, I’m sure it seems that way.  It’s a challenging combo, but it works for us.  Stef serves up food for our friends, and I wipe down the jar of salsa after she does so that the next person to pick it up doesn’t get a palm full of salsa.  We’re all Yin and Yang like that.

All of which is a very long winded wind-up to say that while I was very excited to see what was in the Museum of Clean, Stef thought we were going to visit gnomes.

Finally, someplace that gets me!

Finally, someplace that gets me!

You might think that the “Museum of Clean” would be a two room, 20 minute detour.  You’d be wrong.  The Museum of Clean is over 70 thousand square feet!  And it’s chocked full of gnome technology that completely baffled Stef!

Stefany, with what she believed was a gnome's broomstick.

Stefany, with what she believed was a gnome’s broomstick.

The museum has what seemed like 300 or so antique vacuums.  Hand powered, pump powered, bellows powered, from the 1800s to the present day.  Most of them were still working.

Antique Vacuum

Stef was just as effective with this early 1900s vacuum as she is with ours today.*

* She doesn’t know we even have a vacuum.

They also had a pretty impressive display of antique clothes washing machines and apparatus.

Her first guess: “Old timey toilets?”

Her first guess: “Old timey toilets?”

Of course, there was plenty for me to see there as well.  Like a life-size standee of my alter-ego.

At the very least, it’s a solid Halloween costume idea, right?

At the very least, it’s a solid Halloween costume idea, right?

If you find yourself in Pocatello, it’s certainly worth a look.  But do plan to spend some time there because the place is huge.  And if you’re lucky, you may get a tour from the founder himself, Don Aslett, who led us through the museum.  You can find out more about the museum at

And that, my friends, was our weekend.  Hope yours was just as awesome.  Cheers!

Bye for now from Stef and Lance

James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling certified coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he's also an IT consultant.

    12 thoughts on “My Race Report and the Museum of Clean

    1. Larry

      What, no sculptures made from dust bunnies? How can they call themselves the Museum of Clean without an entire wing devoted to dust bunnies?

      1. Stefany

        You know, you’re so right, Larry! They really did cover everything else but where were the dust bunnies?!!

    2. mhdiscus

      James, I could never place where I have seen you before until your pic with “Mr Clean”. You are holding up well, cheers.

    3. Andy & Kim

      Could you please post the phone number for Gnomes r Us, we desperately need them! Do they work by the hour or are they salaried?!?!

      Glad to see the weather was good for the race. We were in your beautiful Utah the last 2 weeks and there was some pretty gnarly weather coming through. On Thursday we drove from Moab to Cedar City (I 70 > I 15) and it was sun > rain > hail > snow storm > sun. One of the mot exciting and beautiful drives we have ever taken!

      Bet of luck on you next race,
      Andy & Kim

      1. James - Post author

        The gnomes are far too busy with Stefany to take on any new clients! lol.
        It was gloomy out, and it spit rain on us a time or two, but the weather was fine for racing. Before that, as you experienced, it rained for something like two weeks. Glad you made it out alive!

    4. Mike Ortino

      Hi James and Stef,

      We enjoyed your account of last weekends race and sightseeing.
      I ride 3 times a week just for exercise not competition and enjoyed your details of the race.
      I thought of you Sunday when I sat down for breakfast and had that delicious
      French Toast in a mug recipe you shared………So Heavenly!
      Waiting for your next installment.
      Have a great week.

      1. Stefany

        We ALMOST had French Toast in a mug for breakfast before the race, Mike! We brought all the ingredients and planned for it (easily digestible carbs work great pre-race), but then opted for oatmeal instead (mostly out of laziness). Yeah, that French Toast mug is fantastic. Makes a great dessert, too, especially when you blend up strawberries in the milk. Nice you ride for exercise! You sound like me, not interested in the competitive side of cycling, but enjoy it for fitness. And don’t believe a word James says. Gnomes are real. 🙂

    5. Alain

      You make the race sound easy and seem to be downplaying your performance. But I looked at your stats: A course average of 200W, 21,4mph and 145bpm heartbeat for 1h30. Man, you’d be scraping me of the pavement way below those numbers. Kudos to you.

      I’m envious (ok, downright jealous…LOL). Go James, Go…

      1. James - Post author

        Well thanks, but whatever I did during that ride… it wasn’t enough!
        Reminds me of my favorite quote about cycling from Greg LeMond: “It never gets easier, you just go faster.”

        And as far as your own performance – it’s not about the numbers. If you’re on the bike, having fun, and getting exercise in the process… you’ve won!


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