Anyways, I was running some numbers through my head during my run this morning. Numbers have always been a habit of mine (you may recall the Shift Number Cruncher). When I looked down at my watch, I noticed it was May 7th and last night I had a long conversation with my Grandma that just turned 77 years young this week. She reads my column every week, so Happy B-Day again, Grams! The last text I received last night before turning in was from retired Ohio racer Greg Rand. I met Greg on the road from Ponca City to Loretta Lynn's when he and his family were broken down on the side of the road. Greg's number was 77. He and his wife are coming down South to hang out for the weekend. We're going to ride the Harleys down to Darlington for the return of the Southern 500.
As I ran into the 15-minute mark, I started thinking about some other #77's I could think of. Timmy Ferry wore #77 his rookie year, I think, and Branden Jesseman wore it a couple seasons ago. I think Matt Goerke has worn it. When the new numbers come out, I always look over to see who will be wearing my number in AMA competition. I was always waiting to do #77 for the Number Cruncher, but the column was nipped by the awesome economy before I could get to it.
Now on to the 20-minute barrier, and with my lungs feeling like I was inhaling acid vapors, I started to run out of 77s, so I went into just 7s. How about James Stewart and his #7? I thought about what he has done with that number since he changed to it from his familiar #259. It didn't start out too well, but man has he brought it some justice since then! Guys like Jeff Leisk, Guy Cooper, Mike Kiedrowski, Mike LaRocco, and Jeff Stanton are some of the fastest 7s I can think of. I started to think back to the few riders who have felt what it's like to pass James' #7. Let's see here, RC, Chad Reed, Ryan Villopoto, oh yeah, and some washed up Euro trash used #7 to blow Stewart's doors off at the 2006 MXoN. Remember when the great Stefan Everts stood on his pegs and rode around James on the outside like he was standing still?
Now at 28 minutes and time for one last stretch to sprint out before calling it a run. With my feet pounding the chat surface of the trail I tried to imagine what the riders are going to feel like in a couple weeks when they get the "two-lap card" after 30 minutes. What would it be like holding the lead with Villopoto breathing down your neck? What would AMA National #77 Steven Clarke be feeling as he was trying to hang on to a top-20 finish and earn some points?
Finally, the finish line. Both arms up. I always do that after a run. Not exactly a first-place trophy, Monster girls, and a bonus check waiting on me like the boys this summer. But these days for me a soaked t-shirt and sore legs is tough to beat.
Boy, oh boy, the summer is almost here. The heat is coming. And with it comes all the good stuff we suffer through winter for: the lake, bikini-clad women, and 12-rounds of outdoor nationals. Use the month of May to ready yourself for all of it. Don't be that guy in the air-conditioning watching the runners go by. Don't be the guy carrying the cooler up the hill at High Point that has to stop for a smoke. And for Pete's sakes don't be the guy on the boat with a Van Halen '84 t-shirt covering up your man boobs.