Friday, May 9, 2008

Dirt, Sweat, and Metaphorical Tears

The big show has finally come and gone again. Only 359 more days until the next DSG… Sigh… This year’s race started, as all my races seem to, with a healthy thunderstorm the night before. The rain stopped an hour or two before the race though, so at least I didn’t have to get my things ready in the rain.

The race started with a lemans start again. I made it through the whole run without repeating last years “slip n slide” incident. Apparently that was not forgotten, as Jeremy mentioned it before the start and a handful of people around remembered me as “that guy.” I made it through the field section without incident, and started passing people as we hit some of the doubletrack climbs. The mud was horrendous. I hate to be the guy that says “and that was the worst __________ ever.” But it was without doubt the worst mud I have ever experienced. I got to experience the thrill of trying to push a bike up a hill, and having the wheels stop turning completely due to the amount of sticky mud. The clearance on the rig fared better than most though, as I passed 4 or 5 people with immobile wheels before mine finally stopped. Mr. 24 himself managed to snag the picture that I think best shows the conditions of the day:

Descending in the muck was definitely interesting. Coming down the back side of 911 hill was super shady the first lap. It was pretty much just sliding sideways and praying the bike turned enough to keep you out of the trees. There was one other doubletrack descent that was pretty bad as well. I figured a ton of people had wrecked there when I came by for the second lap as there was a small crowd of people there watching people descend. As I slid sideways and barely made it down upright, there was a collective “aww” of disappointment. The second lap was better, but still extremely sloppy. By the third lap though, things had dried off enough that things weren’t too slippery and the wheels spun freely.

I was keeping a pretty steady pace while downing a bottle and a half of infinit every lap. I cannot say enough about how good the infinit stuff is. Check it out, it is the real deal for sure. During the second lap, I had caught Jake Kirkpatrick, but then he took off right as I caught him. It was weird though, as the next lap, I caught him in the exact same spot, and went by and never saw him again. This put me in third place, where I stayed for most of the race. Dejay and Fuzzy were gone from the start and were unfortunately out of reach. From this point on the course was in perfect condition. The next 4 laps went without incident, and I began to calculate the number of laps I needed to do to finish. I actually got a nice mental boost when I forgot I was on eastern time and realized I had one less lap than I thought I did. It's weird how I can do all these laps and remember nothing about them... As I sit here I can't really remember anything specific about a big 6 or 8 hour chunk of the race.

On my 7th lap, Greg Martin caught me, but I soon passed him back as the course turned uphill. At this point I was ready to start increasing the tempo to finish off the last two laps. However, coming down 911 on the 8th lap, I punctured the rear tire. I spun the tire to get the sealant rolling around, and CO2ed it. Air still gushed out of the too big to seal hole. I just couldn’t believe it as I saw my pro podium chances at the greatest event on my race calendar deflated. 3 or 4 minutes later, Greg came by, and I never saw him again. I’m sure there’s no bigger boost of energy or cure for cramps than seeing your competition with a mechanical in the late stages of a race. After begging a CO2 I was back in action, but the whole affair cost me 10 minutes or so. I XCed it for the remainder of the lap and even caught back up to Nat, who had gone by as I was fixing the flat. Nat was kind enough to pull me through all the flat sections where I was spun out. I did a quick light switch and continued on at high pace until I hit the first big climb. ¾ of the way up, my legs were killing me, and I had to back off to make sure I finished the lap. I toasted myself the 8th lap after that flat and didn’t have quite enough to finish at full XC speed. This left me with a 4th place finish in the pro singlespeed.

I can’t say I’m not once again a bit disappointed to lose this one in the final stages. But it definitely gives me some more confidence as I start hitting the smaller regional races this month. I beat all the amateur guys, geared and SSers, and the list of guys in the pro cats that beat me is pretty much a who’s who list of endurance superstars in the US. Onwards…

Well, maybe I should at least take solace in the fact that I can claim the record for the most expensive flat ever ($500)… I need to figure out if I'm gonna really commit to this whole SS thing though. I could have used a second bike to swap out with all the mud and whatsuch...

But the rest of the Knoxville crew fared well, with Jeremy taking 1st in the amateur solo, Abby and Derek taking 3rd in the amateur duo, and the Knoxville team of Josh Reed, Jacob Prater, Andrew Howe, and Mike Biegalski winning the amateur team class. Congrats to all!

And I got to meet the man himself. Gary is without doubt an interesting guy, and his passion for bikes is impossible to miss. It’s kind of a cool feeling to meet the guy whose name is on your bike (and every piece of your clothing.)

Oh, and Gary says park the car and get on your bike.

1 Comment:

  1. Stephen & Rachel said...
    Killer Dave! That is sooo exciting!!! 4th is not so bad considering the crap you had to deal with all day! The Rig is a great bike! I finally have started riding my new one and can tell a big difference between the new and old frame.
    Congrats on a great finish!
    p.s...Smap met G.F. a few years ago and said the same thing!

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