The Emperor's New Duds. (The coffee is not team issue)
The Fool's Gold 50/100 wasn't even on the radar when I penciled out my racing calendar for this year, in fact I only decided to do it 3 weeks ago. I had just got the deal with Vassago and since it was a Vassago Sponsored event, I wanted to be there.
Our plan was to leave JC early enough Friday to be in Dahlonega and at Camp Wahsega before 9:00 to pick up the registration stuff since there would be no Saturday sign in. We executed it with the deft precision of a train wreck... Several circumstances arose and we didn't get to leave until after 5:00. For awhile, I thought we might make it anyway and it wasn't until around 9:30 and we were somewhere in North GA I realized that the word Dahlonega must be an Indian word meaning there's no easy way to get here. We went through town after Mayberryish town (some of which had already rolled up their sidewalks and turned the lights off for the evening) and finally got there and into our motel at about 10:00. Five hours of sleep later and we were off to find a race.
As luck would have it, the first person I ran into was Vassago teammate Chris Davis who was standing in the parking lot of this restaurant waiting for it to open. I asked him where the race was because the directions I had were a little vague and he got us heading in the right direction. Camp Wahsega is a 4-H camp that is located adjacent to Camp Frank D Merrill - a Army Ranger training facility and the Chattahochee Nat'l Forest. It is one of those places you will never just stumble on when you are out driving. You have to want to find it and you have to want it really bad, otherwise you'll never see it.
I first looked up my other Vassago teammate and race co-promoter - Namrita O'Dea and she got me hooked up with registration (thanks Namrita!) and the went to get ready as the 100 mile race started in the dark (6:30). I was still trying to wake up and bitching a little about it when Nancy reminded me that most of my races are already 2/3 over by the time this one starts. In effect she was saying "quit whining you wuss, and go ride your ass off"! Got it.
After a few words from Race Promoter Eddie O, Bruce "the mouth of the South" dunno his last name gives us the "ready,set go"' and we are off.
Pre-race coffee and wake-up ride.
Here's something to try. Go out next Saturday and get up at 5:00, be on your bike no later than 7:00 and immediately, without any warm-up, climb for 5 miles. Howzat feel?
Yeah, that's what I thought too about 4 miles into the first climb. I was actually faring pretty well. I had all the leaders in sight and found a pace I could live with. The first selection of the race had been made and there was a group of about 30 of us. Then things got ugly. We came around a corner and it got steep. I went with it for awhile but I soon found myself waaay down deep in my pain cave - too deep for this early in the race, so I backed off. I even pushed for about 50 yds just to get my heart rate down. One thing about Marathon XC type events that always gets me is not knowing where the hell I am. In 12/24 hour events, you can not know the course, take a couple of laps to learn it and you have it down cold. You know where everything is. Not so in Marathons. You don't know if that climb is 100 feet or 1000. You don't know where you can go hard or where you need to back off. I get such a feeling of isolation and it drives me nuts. For example, if I had known that climb was only another 500yds and there was a long recovery after, I would have just gutted it out instead of pushing.
After about 3 hours, I got really discouraged. I realized what was going on in my head and I just tried to ignore it. Besides, my legs felt pretty good and the trails were awesome. I had a group of 5-7 riders that I'd pass on climbs and they would pass me back on the other side. We did that for awhile and that kept my mind occupied. The singletrack parts of the course were sweeet! Eddie and Namrita really did a good job laying it out. There was alot of fast, flowing stuff, just enough technical to keep your mind focused and plenty to hurt. The big line at the beginning on the course profile is nothing to be concerned about really. It's all those little squiggly lines near the end that get you. There was one short, ass-busting climb after another in the last 15 miles of this thing. It really was a fun and demanding course.
I hit the wall again at about 4:50 and just cruised on home so to speak. I started catching and passing some of those that rode away from me earlier and that helped with my encouragement. It was getting hot now and the race was really getting tough (all the training I did in the heat helped though. I had no heat related issues.)
I came in at just over 6:00. Not sure exactly where, we had to leave before the results got posted. I came, I saw, I rode really hard. That's enough for this time.
All in all it was a great race, well organized, the course was good and well marked and the beer at the end really hit the spot.
The stupid song of the race. Each race, I get a stupid song stuck in my head. This time it was "Uncle Tom's Cabin by Warrant. I could not get that damn song out of my head.
My record still stands. I have not crashed in competition a single time this year (cue sound of me feverishly beating on wood). The race was crash-free (for me) and my Jabberwocky worked like a champ. The more I ride that bike, the more I find to love about it.
This was my 25th endurance race (12/24, XC Marathon combined) and I learn more and more about myself every time I go out.
Many thanks to my sponsors: Vassago, WTB, WB, Bike29 and Cane Creek. A big thanks to Eddie and Namrita O'Dea and all the volunteers and sponsors that helped put this race on.
Lastly, a huge thanks to my wife Nancy. Having you at these things is really, really nice.