Sep 5, 2006
Notes on what not to do before the "BIG RACE".
1. Not have a game plan. I orginally said i might ride a fixie or a single-speed. Instead I hemed and hawed, and decided at the last minute to race the big boys. I should have choosen one or the other. Instead I was stuck in between.
2. Invite your college friends into town to visit for the week leading up to the race. My Friend Gabe came in Monday and Drew Wendsday. It was lots of fun but not conditions for racing big. Mentally this screwed with me..as well as physically. You know we ran around wondering about the last 8 years but not the next 20, and relationship talk filled most of our time. Enough drinking, dancing and bickering carried on into the night hours to satisfy even the most insatiable Hal Hartley fan.
If I had decided before this past week how to proceed, things would have been a lot more fun. I could have relaxed more with my friends. Gone to the race and ridden at pleasure pace, with people I normally don't get to ride with. Racing is fun, doing well is nice but riding with friends is better. I missed a big opportunity to cruise a 100mile race with random people, talk more to aid station volunteers and possibly join a train to blast down Dowles Draft or Braley's. THose things are important. Instead I rode alone most of the time. If I seemed dissapointed after the race that is why, not because I got 7th.
Instead I was stuck somewhere in-betweeen. Trail Purgatory.
If I could do it again here is how it would go.
I start out in the back and don't even see who goes off the front. Instead I saddle up to Kerry Combs and we chat a little about the day and the year, and her enthusiasm. About the time we make the second left and start on the dualtrack I mosey up to Indy Fab guru Lloyd Graves. We climb together to the radio tower and the first piece of single-track on Narrow back. 400 riders are trying to squeeze into the woods is similar to someone trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. Lloyd goes in first and we let a gap form in front to minimize the amount of carnage we have to ride over.
Coming out onto the gravel Lloyd and I have seperated and I ride with a few random packs of people. We chat, and I make jokes when they ask me why I'm not up in the front. Somebody farts and we all laugh. Eventually I catch up to Chris Nystrom. He helped me with my trip to Breckenridge. I had met his wife at the 101 and was looking forward to seeing him here. A good rider, we cruise up Lynn Trail and try to keep our rear wheels stuck to the earth on the climb. At the top I lead into the decent down Wolf Ridge trail. Shenandoah Bike club has done a lot of work to this trail. When I used to live in Harrisonburg I would do night rides from town to ride Lynn and Wolf. Lots of rock gardens to gap and some very fast and sketchy sections. At the bottom I've lost Chris but gained another group of strangers. They decided to act like roadies and we do some mindblowing TTT. Our group is solid with 30sec pulls and very few are able to catch on as we fly by like a flock of seagulls.
At Hanky Mountain I find myself next to John Posner. Trek Factory team manager. "Captain BassMaster". He is in charge of all the Trek Boys and girls this weekend, but doesn't seem to be too worried about what they are doing up the road. I saw in my future a back seat to the Poz train going down Dowles. He was rocking it on that fancy Trek he likes to ride, but I eventually had to ask for a line around and showed him what off-camber speed looked like.
We rocked to the bottom and Aid Station 3 where I hung out for a while and talked and ate too many sweedish fish. As I eyed up another handfull, Cheryl Sorenson (my previous Gettysburg teammate) came in acting like she owned the forest. We took off together after she rehydrated and we made our way to Mountain House and the next piece of single-track. I seperated from her when Tommi Millar and Buck came rolling up on the Fixies and we had a good time while I pushed them on the pavement sections, with their feet on the top tubes. The climb up to Braleys is a perfect single speed section so I let them go first and watched their steady cadence and silliness. Pat Miller and Thomas Jenkins rolled up from behind and we all eventually set a pace that caught my friend and travel mate for the weekend Topher.
At the top I couldn't imagine a much better group to be blazing Braleys trail with. But I had to drop those dudes, except for Topher and we rolled on to catch Thom Parsons, Indy Fab Web master, who was having a good time riding with Les Leech, the "One-Gear Better-Beer Rally" ringmaster. Two web designers in one spot made for some not so interesting conversation about color theory and cultural identity shifts based on web structure. I cared but decided to ride on and try to catch another group. At station 5 I see Mike Carpenter lying in the grass. He rode there but in a round about way due to a blown chain in the first 30 sec of the race. He was forced to abandon and truly pleasure ride the rest of the day. We took off together to finish the climb to Chestnut ridge, where it was all down hill for a while and I was ready to follow the local knobbies of Carp. All legs arms and torso, it was like watching a preying mantis ride a deer down the mountain. Beautiful.
With only about 10 miles to go I decided to sprint the rest of the way to see what that felt like. Catching people and riding with them some completed my day.
That is what my day should have been like. In the end I still had a good time because the event is great, the people are random and interesting, and the riding is Tops!
Hats off to everyone who did it. See you next year.
Rock Star award goes to Rich Dillon for eating one of the rankest snacks in existance.