Jul 27, 2007

Only Slacking in Some ways. Two Wins, in two weeks.

Yes I like a good stream.
These past two weekends have added up to 126 miles of racing.
First: The Curse of Dark Hollow. 100k 8,000 ft of Michaux scares me, but I love it.
First I had to find a place to park my handgun.
During the Curse race I had the idea that, tho I don't hunt with a gun, racing for me is, in way another type of big game hunting. I think I get some of the same thrill out of competing that a hunter gets when tracking and out-smarting some elusive creature. Now if I could only eat those I catch.
It's not much of a secret that Michaux is one of the hardest places on the East Coast to ride or race. There are past articles written in a hushed and awed tone in Dirt Rag magazine about these trails. The forest will eat you. A lot of people skipped the Curse to do the Fair Hill race, because it's fun and flows like taffy at the shore. But for those who thirst for the unique challenge that is Michaux, this was a big gulp that a few couldn't finish and many more were cursing. In a good way. Even the promoters admitted they would probably not do the 100K format again, citing that it was too much for them and probably the racers. That doesn't mean anyone was disappointed, just really tired.
Pete and Stephanie rode up with me the day before for a little pre-riding. Pete on his downhill ready 96er Engin and Stephanie on my bike from last year. She was going to do it on here fully ridged 1996 Klein Rascal, but I couldn't let that happen. It would have been involuntary woman slaughter. After a good little introduction where Pete got to let his bike out of it's cage and Steph learned a bit about how disc-brakes work, we went to my mom's and got ready.
The 7am start was early but necessary. My mom can to hand off water-bottles, which is something I sort of resist. Ideally I would like all the riders to have to use the same resources, but Eatough repeatedly had a feed as well as Brandon Dragaulis. After a couple of races this year where not having a feed proved to be a definite handicap I accepted my mom's offer.
The usual start had us blasting through some dual track to a rock strewn descent, that has claimed my tires in the past, and was sure to put it to a few people today. We exited the woods did a quick transition climb to more single track climbing on loose rocks for about 10 min to Abby Trail on the ridge.
It was pretty much Chris and I at the top, and we began to roll Abby with a solid pace, through the rocks. When I say rocks I mean the things that people launch off of, and spend time riding over and over again with their friends till they clean it types of rocks. The type of trail that only gives you pleasure if you take it with force and finesse.
Half way through Chris E. had to stop to adjust something, and I asked if he was okay. He said yeah and I rode on, not attacking but trying to keep the same rythmn we had had. I expected him to catch up shortly but from that point on it I started to stretch my lead on him.
1.5min then 2, then 3, 4, 5, 6 and finally on the last climb of the day and at the finish I had 7 minutes.
I got ahead of my self. So the course is classic single track, with good mile to three mile climbs on gravel or trail with mostly insane descents through the woods on the log-piled ribbons. It continued like this for the better part of 4 hrs. I was stressed trying to keep my bike together and my lead. My mother made perfect feeds and gave me splits back to Chris. It was hot and hellish towards the end of the day when the course turned right off of the infamous Graves ridge and sent us over two or so miles of the most washed out, rooty and boulder strewn atv trails I had ever ridden. At the end of this little gift we crossed the road and was treated to a 2 mile finish, all up hill on gravel dual-track. Holy crap! What a way to end a grueling race.
At the end I was spent but excited to have a legitimate win over one of my biggest rivals. Unfortunately I have to do it two more times to say that it wasn't a fluke. That is skateboarding rules. 3 times to own the trick.
Pete had a good day and Stephanie managed a 3rd place finishing 10:30hrs. Ouch. She was smiling at the end.

These guys know how to use their tools.
Lots of Ti!!
Off Road Assault on Mount Mitchell.
100K 11, 000 ft of climbing. Dogs with Mohawks!
Race promoter Todd Brennan puts on ORAMM, and apparently it's pretty popular, if the 450 people who showed up count for anything.
I had a tough choice to make, and I'm not sure I made the right one. Was it honor at Mt. Snow and the NORBA National Championships or NC and the possibility of LOOT?
Well considering I had blown all of the raffle money in CO getting ready for the Marathon Nat. Championship, I thought I should do the only thing that's making me any money these days and go south. With the most excellent traveling partner currently known as Topher. I knew that most of the competition would be in VT, which was actually disappointing, but handy. I like a good fight. Also on the line (I thought) was the course record, 5:08 set by Jeremiah Bishop in 2006, with a $500 bonus for breaking it. I figured I had a chance. Unfortunately the promoter had to change the course slightly, and even though it was the same distance you can't break the record if its a different course. So I set a new goal of trying for the 5hr mark.
With 450 people on the line it was sort of intimidating looking around at all the people, wondering who was the mystery meat that would present a challenge. I saw some familiar faces that could do some damage on a good day. We started with a "rolling" start, that was pretty high speed, till the first gravel section of climbing. Mostly all together we rolled up to the first bit of trail, and I went in first. And that was pretty much it. One guy was keeping me in sights till the next climb then I never saw anyone again. It was a pretty lonely day, just me and my computer telling me what my average speed was, which I was monitoring to keep around 13mph to break the 5hrs.
The climbs were pretty much all gravel while the descents were raging trail, that went on for miles. (4-7) My forearms were paying the toll, but they were fun, and the main reason I wanted to ride down there.
Towards the end I came to a set of railroad tracks we had crossed earlier, only to find a freight train rolling by. I had no option but to sit and wait, take a leak and contemplate if I could throw my bike over the thing and jump on, on one side and jump off the other. 1.5 min later, after what felt like an eternity it passed.
Eventually I rolled back into Old Fort and across the finish line at 4:54:49. But I still regretted not going to Mt. Snow.
Topher got third. On the talking bike.

9 comments:

MRussell said...

Congrats, helluva job.

Chris said...

nice work Harlan...beating Chris E. is big!

Anonymous said...

Nice job Harlan.
You're the greatest. :)
Dicky

HARLAN PRICE said...

You guys are to nice. "The Greatest" is an overstatment. thanks tho!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations you! Glad to see your season is coming along so well.

-Jared

doug said...

Great Work Harlan!

JenBob said...

it's amazing what we'll do and where we'll go for $$.

Nice job all around.

Yuri hauswald said...

Harlan, great job in the NUE. Keep crushing it. Good luck this weekend. Yuri

josh said...

Harlan, nice work at the 101. I've got a shot of you at three bridges here: http://jpk.infiniteregress.org/wp.
Good luck with the rest of the season.