[ Days 17 – 19 — June 27 – July 1, 2012 ]
Eugene offered a vacation from a vacation: nights in a warm bed and days of easy spectating. I’d paid my admission fee in dollars and sweat, and now the wonders of Track Town were before me like a personal Disneyland. To borrow another metaphor, the layover felt like a long, easy descent: all I had to do was hold onto the handlebars and keep an eye on the road; gravity would take care of the rest.
Gravity is a fitting term for the spectacle of the US Olympic Trials. I arrived in the middle of a 10-day celebration of US Track and Field. Millions of dollars and thousands of fans flooded into this relatively small college town, all to celebrate a sport that often went ignored. The ubiquitous Nike swoosh offered constant reminder as to who was calling the shots. For the moment, I was happy to go with the flow.
By some stroke of luck, I had the choice of two separate sleeping arrangements. My friend Jeff had a house with a guest bed, about a mile from Hayward Field. My good friend Nick, a teammate from college, had a spare bed just blocks away from the stadium. Nick was in Eugene for the entirety of the Trials, spending the week with friends from running camp. Together they’d rented several rooms from a sorority house, which converted into a bed and breakfast whenever summer track events came to town. The sophomoric appeal of stumbling back to a sorority house after late-night revelry was not lost on me, but neither was the quiet comfort of Jeff’s cottage. Both options had their selling points, so I divided my nights between each.
Unlike Jeff, who was up to his eyeballs in residency work, Nick was on vacation, so I spent most of my free time with him. I like to think that we share a certain outlook on life and compliment each other pretty well. He is also one of the smartest and funniest people I know. Our days in Eugene followed a satisfying if not exhausting pattern: wake, run, eat, spectate, run, eat, drink, sleep, repeat.
But as with most galas and pageantry this event had a non-negotiable end date. As the Trials wound to a close, Eugene transformed back into a sleepy college town and my friend had a flight to catch. I was sad that the Trials were over, but more than that, I was sad to see my friend go.
Fortunately, I’d soon get time with another friendly face. Scott, who had originally planned to meet me at Crater Lake, was driving down from Seattle to meet me at Jeff’s house. Scott would ride with me from Eugene to the Oregon coast, and then make the return trip as I continued south. He was my first and only planned guest rider of the tour.
We met up in time for dinner, and took an early bedtime after consulting Jeff for the best escape route from the city.
I’d gotten a bit too comfortable staying in one place—tomorrow it was back to business.
[ Daily Miles: 0 ] [ Total Miles: 910 ]