Saturday, I took part in the 6th Annual 6 Hours of Warriors Race/Cookout at Warriors Path State Park in Kingsport, Tennessee. This was a free event put on by the Northeast Tennessee Mountain Bike Association in the spirit of the founding fathers of mountain biking - to hang out, have friendly competition and eat some good grub at the end.
Master Chef, Larry Roberts
Try having this temptation at a race. This spread was in the start/finish area. Pure torture for those trying to race.
The day's event actually got started the day before with steady rain all day long. One thing about Warriors, the trails are quite durable and weather resistant but damn evil when wet. The race start of 8:00 meant the first few laps would be tough.
After a few words from the Minister of Pain (aka ME) to the effect of "Um.. y'all be careful, the trails are wet and someone might get hurt if you get lazy", the race began.
Me and Vassago teamate Chris Davis before the start.
Uh, maybe I should have listened to my pre-race speech. My plan was to ride about 2 or 3 laps and then hang out as people arrived for the cookout. Well about 50 yds into the singletrack, my front wheel slid off of a root and I hooked a tree with my bars and went down hard. I got up and my bars were crooked and had to be straightened.
Everyone passed me.
Something inside me clicked and I went from casual to WFO race mode just like that. I got back on my bike and went through the first trail - Darwin's Revenge, like a man possessed. By the time I got into the first somewhat downhill section of Boneyard (see a trend with the trail names?), I had made my way to mid-pack. I didn't really know what the hell I was doing, I was riding by instinct and stupid - a bad combination.
In Boneyard, there's three really big roots that you can usually manual BMX style over and never think twice. I came up on them and a buddy of mine at the same time on Saturday. He bobbled a little and I had nowhere to go. But down.
I crashed harder than I have crashed in recent memory. I hit the ground face first and everything went black for a moment.
I remember thinking "Damn. That hurt and how can I go all over the Southeast in all these races all year and never crash once and come to a charity event in my back yard and yard sale?"
As I rolled over, I could taste that metallic taste of blood and I saw it dripping all over the ground. I thought I broke my nose. I just sat there for a minute and finally took my waterbottle and washed off my face.
Then I got back on my bike and rode on. Like what else was I supposed to do?
I took a shortcut back to my truck and cleaned up and assessed the damage.
One cut on each leg, a badly busted nose (my face still hurts), a cracked Giro helmet and a hurt ego.
I needed a few of these.
I mean, I know the trails at WPSP better than any trail on the planet, how could this happen?
Ah, suck it up buttercup and go on. My head hurt for the rest of the day but I still managed to place 3rd in the High Noon Smackdown - a 1 mile uphill/downhill TT and later on in the afternoon, I went back out with Bob Lamberson, one of my best friends, and we rode a lap in a two-man paceline that was nearly perfect. Bob is one of about 3 people on Earth that I trust riding tight singletrack at speed three feet from his back wheel.
My Vassago teamate Chris, outlasted all the others and resisted the draw of the smell of hamburgers and won the OA in the 6 Hour Race. I think everyone had some sort of injury, if not physical, mental anguish from the beating that Warriors can dole out. Another close friend of mine, Jay Hayes, probably fared the worst with a deep cut on his knee (and a matching cracked patella) and a broken wrist.
It's a good thing this was for fun. If it was serious someone could have died.
Can't wait until next year.