Day two of the Tour took us north of Harrisonburg to the Big Schloss part of the Shenandoah Valley. The first big day on the mountain bike was going to also have the biggest gnar factor with rock gardens that had the least amount of grooming. I'd never actually ridden Schloss area eventhough I used to stop and ride Wolfgap on drives between Harrisonburg and Gettysburg. This part of the George Washington National Forest is further away from the trail workers of Harrisonburg and has remained pretty raw.
I was looking forward to unleashing my Blur LTc on the rock gardens and long descent time sections. One thing had me worried...Tubes in my tires. Why they were still in there, I don't know. I've run Tubeless for over six years and this time I was being a little lazy. I'm used to running my Stan's rims, but the Blur came with non-tubeless ready DT Swiss and the unknown was a little inimidating. Can I convert them? 'Yes' according to some. What do I do? "Run Stan's tape and throw in a valve..." Well, I was out of tape and still not confident, so I decided to let the tubes stay and see if tubeless was all that important....
It is... Three flats in the first timed section later and a loss of 20minutes in the overall was not a good way to start the tour. I blame the bike...I shouldn't have had so much confidence going into the first long rock garden, but the Blur had disappeared from under me and as far as I knew I was moonbouncing down the trail. It felt so good that I didn't even feel the first snake bite the rear tube. A not so quick change was complicated by a tight bead/rim interface and I accidently pinched the new tube I was putting in.
At this point the trail turned a little more flat but kept the rock profile and getting a rhythmn was proving to be difficult. Finally I got it rolling again and just after picking up some speed into the next few rock sections, I found myself off the bike fixing a front flat! That one I felt and heard but it was still at a speed I hadn't ever seen on the hardtail. With that flat fixed and most of the field in front of me, I managed to roll on without incident. Well there was one incident left which was seeing Dicky with his second flat and no tube. He'll hate me for saying it, but "I told you so." For some reason my third tube was a 29er and I passed it on to him. At the beginning of the day I had noticed he had no camelback and one tube. He seemed (without humbleness) certain that he wouldn't double flat since he never doubles. The Tour pounced on that smugness.
After gathering back together at the sag wagon, we ate, drank, fixed bikes, added air to tires and sweated in the shade. A good hour after regrouping and imbiding, we remounted the bikes, paraded out of the stop and soon were getting reved up for the first sprint. I tried to lead out Ryan Fawley but he jumped early and missed first. We slowly regrouped and parade paced till the next timed section which was mostly downhill! It started with enough of a climb that I let myself relax and stay steady to the top, but once it started getting fast and technical I began picking off those who were a little more spritely on the climb. I wish it wasn't a timed section, because I would have loved to stop and taken pictures of the rock shoots and big gardens where everyone had to get off. They would be hard to clean at pleasure pace. If you think you're good, call me up and we'll go down to see just what you got. Good luck...
I ended up taking some time back on the section and rolled in, in third place behind Sam Koerber and Nick Waite. Good Company!
Day Three: 98miles on Road/Gravel
The TDB is a true adventure around the Shenandoah valley and doesn't limit itself to mountain bikes. The thing is, we are all mountain bikers first, so you have to imagine that to keep us entertained there will be a plenty of gravel. True to form we paraded out of town towards the first KOM of the day. Straight up the two mile climb on exposed gravel up Massanutten mountain's back side. I didn't bother with the KOM since there is a limited amount of energy in these legs and I've done that climb enough time over the years in the Hoo-Ha and the Tour. Let the others punish themselves. We had 98miles to go and it was going to be hot and hard.
So hot! On the Eastern side of the Masanutten ridge we had the pleasure of crossing the North Fork river.