First thing on the agenda was getting there and finding my room for the night. I ended up in a bunkhouse with some of the guys from Addictive Cycles and after brief introductions and some getting stuff ready for the race, it was bedtime.
Saturday morning and a few cups of 53x11 coffee and I was um...... still sleepy. Luckily after a few words from Eddie O, I had a nice 4 mile climb to Cooper's Gap to wake me up. Not being sure if I packed my legs or not and not really wanting to get caught up in the KOM race at the top of CG, I lined up in mid pack. 100 or so riders funneled into 8 feet is always fun and I just kept cool and started picking off people on the climb. For the first 3 miles it's not so bad but then it kicks up at the top and I began to hurt. By then I could see the front of the pack and I just tried to maintain that spot but my legs were screaming bloody hell. I wanted to push and just then I heard Bruce Dickman shouting encouragement - I knew that meant the top wasn't far and relief. Over the top I cruised a bit and chatted with a couple of other s/s guys but I wasn't feeling great at all. The dust on the FS roads was choking me and messing up my contacts and by the time we hit the first section of singletrack, I was staring at the back wall of my pain cave. Looking at my computer, I realized I had at least 4 more hours to go. Yay me.
The singletrack was nice and flowing and it ended up serving to help me out a bit. I started feeling better and catching a few people here and there. At the first Check, I filled one bottle, grabbed 4 fig bars and was out in less than a minute, leaving at least one singlespeed behind. over the next 10 miles, I went from feeling good to feeling great. It didn't make sense but I wasn't going to argue with it. At the second Check a lady calls out my number and says 4th singlespeed.
"What did you just say?"
She informs me I am the 4th singlespeed that has passed there. I made sure she didn't mean the 4th singlespeed after the other 10 had already went through and grabbed some more figs and went on. Ah hell, now I had a race to ride. I just assumed I was sucking and it turned out I wasn't doing too bad. Every time I passed someone I looked for gears until I came to one guy on a singlespeed. I just kinda rode behind him for a bit to see how he was riding and then ended up passing him. I am not sure if he was a 50 miler or a 100 miler but I assumed that I was now in third. I tried to keep on what I was doing before and that was just maintaining a steady pace, not wasting a lot of time or energy and not crashing. Every time I passed someone with drivetrain problems, I was happy I had no shifters or derailleurs to mess up.
Somewhere after the third Check, I got a cramp and stopped to massage it out and before I could get started again, 3 singlespeeds passed me. Dammit! I rode after them and ended up getting back by all of them (two had flats, I'll take it) and all was well again. Well for a short time anyway.
My day began to unravel in the last 10 miles of the race when cramps began to overtake me. I cramped so hard and so violently that my legs frequently locked up completely. Shit it hurt! I looked down and my quads quivered and looked as if there was some alien crawling around under my skin. It was freaky. I'd ride, cramp, slow down and massage, ride, cramp, stop, rub, ride and repeated this process a dozen times over the next 10 miles or so. The final blow came in the last two miles of the race when I cramped really hard again and six guys on singlespeeds passed me before the end of the race. Oh I was pissed!
I don't know what happened. It wasn't that hot and I did the same thing with the same drinks, amounts, e.t.c that I have done all year and it has worked. Why now did I have this trouble?
I don't look too happy but I was actually ecstatic because I was done but a little pissed because of the cramps that held me back.
I ended up 10th in 5:31.
I ate, took a shower and fired off a phone call to home and by then Misty and Kris were there bearing gifts in the form of some excellent Highlands Brewing Co bounty that they most graciously shared with me. We sat around and they sold a few more raffle tickets for the Optimus. I got to meet George from Bike 29 and we basically had a big time as the rest of the 50 milers and 100 mile racers finished. It was good to see Misty again and to finally meet Kris and talk bikes and cars (he has an orange Element too!) Jeremiah Bishop won the 100 mile race in 7:39 - an impressive time on this course. Later he wandered by the Vassago table and was looking at the frame. I congratulated him on his race and asked how he did it. He said "It's all I do", "I eat, sleep, train and race"
Sounds easy huh?
As the day wound down, we all said goodbyes, I ate again and headed home to sleep in my own bed as opposed to another night in a bunkhouse ( no offense to my roomates but my bed is more comfortable).
It was a great race, I didn't plan to do well and I ended up doing better that I expected. I rode well and had great legs all day until the cramps came. My Vassago worked perfectly. No mechanicals, No flats, No crashes. It was a great day.
Picture pilfered from Natalie. Thanks!