Thursday, July 26, 2007
According to the late Bon Scott, "Hell ain't a bad place to be". Or at least the figurative hell of being on the road touring 300 days a year.
I wouldn't know about that but at the end of the day after the 8th Annual Off Road Assault on Mt MitcHELL, I felt like I rode my bike right up to the flaming gates of hell, rang the doorbell, and rode like crazy away. The day started with the realization that I was a good 30 minutes late getting to the start. I don't know how that happened but me, Nancy and Nathan drove like crazy to the town of Old Fort and arrived just in time to hear that they delayed the start by 30 minutes. Cool. I had 45 minutes instead of 15 to get ready. Then at 8:07, I am talking to Bob and Anet, I hear "Racers are you ready?" What the ????. Nancy was in the bathroom and she was going to miss the start. I had to ride back and tell her what was going on.
I got back to Bob just as they said GO.
We sat there............... Yep it takes some time to get 450 bikes moving and we were pretty much in the very back. I was antsy about being there but it turns out that it was a good plan because I had to spin my 32X20 like a madman just to keep up with the slow people on the flat stuff leading to the first climb of the day: Mill Creek.
I just tried to relax and go with it. I was nervous about all the pain that was to come and about the 10:20 ass-thrashing I suffered through last year on a really nice fs geared bike and now I am on a rigid s/s. Even though I believed in what I was doing, I was still afraid that I'd not make it up the million-mile climb to hell, or Curtis Creek Rd.
Anyway, about half the way up Mill Creek, we took a detour and ended up standing in line for about 10 minutes (I am not kidding)
while traffic got funneled up a really steep (but not as bad as Heartbreak Ridge) hike a bike.
Then came the 21 (or so) switchbacks of Kitsuma and more bike-hiking. What was worse was that when I could ride, everyone was spinning like mad in their granny gear and you just can't ride that slow on a singlespeed. I got frustrated and when I got to the top and down the other side, guess what.
MORE WALKING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGH!!!!!!
Granted it was pretty nasty looking but I had enough and I went straight down the middle passing and picking lines over the drop offs. It was really cool to have all those people get outta my way. Roughly 13:47 into my 15 minutes of fame however, we were off of Kitsuma and back on the road where about 90 of the 100 people I passed, passed me back. I learned you have to be humble sometimes on a singlespeed.
On to the road I called "Slow Death On a Grassy Road" and I passed more people which made me feel good.
The climb here just got you in the mood, so to speak, for the beating you were about to get on Curtis Creek which was coming up in another 12 or so miles.
I stopped at each aid station only long enough to refill my bottles and go. I made it a point to make sure they were both empty by the time I got to the next one. I also shoved something down my piehole every hour, on the hour. I got really sick last year and that wasn't happening again if I could help it.
I rode with Wes most of the first third of the race and I could see that he was going well. I had a feeling.............
At the aid station before the million-mile climb to hell, Scooby and I hooked up and just cruised on the gentle early slopes of Curtis Creek before things get evil.
After awhile of that, I lost touch with him and tried my best to stay within myself and just keep pedalling. My back was beginning to hurt from all the grinding and about 7 miles into the climb,I cracked like Humpty Dumpty. I stopped to pee and Scooby passed me back. I rode/walked for the next couple of miles but so was most of everyone else I was with so I didn't let it get to me.
Finally, I made it to the oh-so-glorious top of CCR and the aid station where I got more water. it was then that the reality of the reroute that had to be made to the course set in. Last year, we went across the BRP, down a really nice and long, leg enriching descent before climbing back up to the BRP and on to Heartbreak. This year that section was out meaning we went straight out the BRP for 6 or 7 miles to Heartbreak.
What's the big deal?? Well the 9 mile climb of death was now the 16 mile climb of death.
Somebody kill me now.
With all the traffic and I don't know how many diesel campers passing, I was certain that I had left earth and was now in hell.
I made it to HBR and down it ok. I was really getting tired and althouh I never crashed, I tripped over my bike a few times and took looking stupid to a new level.
Anyhoo, I was happy when I got back to the top of Mill Creek and I was standing at the base of Kitsuma (again) and it hit me that all I had to do was finish one more climb (actually 4 or 5 more climbs but at that point who's counting). I rode the final few miles tired but energized by every inch I got closer to the end.
I crossed the line in 8:31:something, nearly 2 hours quicker that last year on a bike with 17 less gears and 100 mm less suspension. I ended up 16th in Singlespeed.
My Vassago only had a few miles on it at the start and it was an untested, unproven piece of machinery. At the end of the day, it had proven itself over and over and is now a member of the family.
I never crashed and rode all the technical stuff (including both times down Kitsuma) except for that swampy part on Hearbreak that scares the crap out of me.
I can't wait until next year.
I am extremely proud of Wes who spanked all of us on his singlespeed. We knew the day would come and I can't think of a better place to do it, and Anet who gutted it out for over 12 hours and finished like a champ.
Most of all, I wanna thank my coach (and wife) Nancy and Nathan for the moral support and for being there. I love you guys.
Posted by Duckman at 6:24 AM