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Norba #4 — The RV Has Arrived
Crystal Mountain, WA: August 3, 2000

• Preview
• Women's Cross-Country
• Men's Cross-Country
• Short-Track Cross-Country
• Dual Slalom
• Downhill

Crystal Mountain isn't quite as swanky as the resorts that typically host the NORBA events; in fact, it's so far off the beaten path that 800 pounds of ice are delivered daily — in a taxi cab. The Snorting Elk Lodge is the only bar for miles, so it's easy to sniff out the party. When we arrived Wednesday night to report on the weekend's mountain biking event, the floor was sticky and the girls got topless. I like this venue!

Earlier that day — 70 miles away, I'd backed our rented RV out of parallel parking spot in downtown Seattle without a crunch, but as I swung through the first turn, the ship sailed over the curb, grinding the step-down ladder against the pavement. Just up the street, I managed to park it's rear wheel in my neighbor's flower garden, but they're on vacation. Despite my handling skills, we did avoid disaster, and just after midnight, the 25-foot RV bottomed out for the last time in the parking lot of Crystal Mountain, Washington; the fourth stop of the NORBA National Championship Series.

Along the route, a twisty road lead us past old-growth forests and brought us to the edge of Mt. Rainier National Park. There aren't many hotels here in the woods and housing is so scarce that many of the racers have circled the parking lot with their tents, surrounding the gravel arena with bonfires, stacks of bikes, and a strong vibe. We too were without a reservation and we joined the masses of elderly Americans who slow traffic, hog both lanes, and and do the dishes as they drive. We had no choice but to set sail in a recreational vehicle.

"...housing is so scarce that many of the racers have circled the parking lot with their tents, surrounding the gravel arena with bonfires and stacks of bikes..."

As for this weekend's recreation, Friday's cross-country course weaves right behind our humble abode and eventually snakes it's way past the beer garden of the Snorting Elk Lodge. The course is soft and dry, weaving through forests of Evergreens. On Saturday, the short-track cross-country course circles the base of the resort which should allow for some fine spectating.

Just as soon as the dual slalom ends, will be hosting a party on Saturday evening in the parking lot. If you happen to reside nearby, follow our banners to the RV. Bring your friends, your bikes and your dogs, but don't get hit with a Frisbee, because we aren't responsible. Oh, and if you're sleeping within ear shot, we apologize ahead of time for being so loud.

The downhill takes off on Sunday, running a course so long it requires two lifts to reach the top, where the view of Mt. Rainier will bug your eyes out. On the way down, some poor fool attempted to break the mold. I watched in amazement as he attempted to ride the downhill course on an cross-country bike! His shaved legs were without armor as he ate big on the loose shale at the top of the course. It must have knocked some sense into him becauase he shouldered his bike and began the walk down.

As for life in the RV, things are a bit tight. The first person up serves as the alarm clock. Any movement causes the boat to rock from side to side. Twice I've clocked my head on the low ceiling, leaving me cross eyed and howling in pain. And that new car smell, it's gone now, replaced by an implacable, funky odor.

I've got the press room to myself and I'm stuffing my pockets with food to avoid scrapping for crumbs back at the shower on wheels. Our close quarters remind me of my college dorm room. It's littered with dirty clothes and empty beer cans, but it does have air conditioning and a horn.

Lucas Kane, living in a metal box for

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