Sunday, July 29, 2012

Fry Goes to the Gravity Nationals

Less than a week after the practice camping run, it was time for the real thing. Fry's first big camping trip would be to Beech Mountain, North Carolina for the 2012 USA Cycling Gravity Nationals Mountain Bike Downhill Championship race. This trip, running Thursday through Sunday, July 19-22, would offer our days and three nights of all kinds of new sights, sounds, dogs, people and activities.

Since Steve would be racing on Friday, it would be up to me to manage Fry during Thursday practice and Friday morning's race, and I was glad his first camping experience had been a positive one that would hopefully carry over to this trip as well. Fry did great on the drive up and was an excellent traveler during the ride, the rest stops and even the extremely tight twisty mountain road up to the top of Beech Mountain. On arrival, we found a nice spot in the lot designated for race camping - Parking Lot #3 - got the Rockwood trailer set up and opened the top half of the door so Fry could survey his new "home" for the next few days.

Beech Campsite
I was glad I decided to bring Fry's fleece jacket and rain coat, since the weather was significantly - and pleasantly - cooler than the high 90 to 100 degree temperatures we've been enduring for the past month or so at home. In fact, it wasn't long after we got our campsite set up that a storm began approaching.

Storm Approaching
Within minutes, a few "splats" of huge raindrops turned quickly into a downpour. I must admit, though, our little camper was quite cozy during the storm and I was more than happy to not be in a tent...

Even Fry seemed to think the camper was cozy in the rain.

Likely a result of all the newness and excitement, Fry had a restless night Thursday, but wished his Daddy good luck in his race Friday morning.

Good Luck!
Steve headed out early to catch the ski lift ride to the start line, and Fry and I walked up shortly after, to find a comfortable spot near the last rock drop before the finish line to take some pictures of the amateur riders.

Watching the Amateurs
Steve managed to take seventh place in his class! Looks like the collar bone is doing well, thank goodness.

Steve Taking Seventh Place!
And since Fry was donning his glorious green multi-stripe collar from If It Barks, he naturally had to have his photo taken with "The Green Guy"...

Fry and The Green Guy
After the amateur races were complete, Ryan brought Fry's best girl, Farlow, over for a visit.

Fry and Farlow
And then Fry relished in being the center of attention with lots of petting.

Center of Attention
Finally, after a long day of meeting bunches of new friends and walking all around the race venue, Fry decided it was time for a nice long nap back at the campsite.

Nap Time
After a good rest, Fry was ready to go for a long fun hike with his new friend, Morris. Mark and Steve let Mo and Fry play in the creek after watching a little of the dual slalom.

Fry and Mo at the Creek
Then the five of us walked up a good bit of the Pro course to watch the pro racers practice and to let the pups get some exercise as well.

Fry and Morris
And it was time for another doggy nap.

Fry had already seemed to start settling in to a happy routine. He was great meeting new people, even if still a bit hyper excitable on first seeing other dogs. He was very reliable, though, about staying at his own campsite and seemed to enjoy helping Daddy with the grilling. :-)

At the Campsite
He seemed to very quickly accept the camper as his home-away-from-home and would frequently go inside of his own accord, either to lie down on the bed or just watch the world go by from the doorway.

Of course, on occasion he also enjoyed hanging out with us under the shade tent, either standing next to us or lying on his cushioned mat.

Fry and Daddy
But he also had no qualms about nabbing an unoccupied camp chair...

Fry in the Camp Chair
We walked up part of the mountain to watch some of the pro qualifying runs, and Fry was my superb photography assistant.

Photographer's Helper
He had a blast watching the riders jump the rocks exiting out of the woods...

Watching the Riders
And always let me know when the next rider was approaching from the upper rock garden.

Rider Up!
All in all, I'd say Fry's first big multi-night camping trip was a success and he's definitely a wonderful vacationing companion.