Wednesday, May 14, 2008


It is time once again for the 12 Hours of Tsali. I've done this race twice already, with mediocre results each time.

Two years back, it was the second 12 hour I ever attempted. Of course it rained as the race started, and I still had no idea what the hell I was doing in the longer races. Tsali is a sloppy mess when it is wet, so I won't say it was enjoyable. The rain stopped an hour or two in, and the rest of the afternoon was cloudy skies with intermittent thunder. It was kind of odd though, as halfway through the race they made everyone stop due to a severe weather warning, but it didn't even sprinkle. So after another lemans start, we were back at it again. Once it got dark, the rain started pouring again, and the trail was lit up every few minutes by a flash of lightning. Despite having time to do another lap, I called it a day and finished around 8th place.

[Writing about the mud of two years ago reminded me of one of my favorite Tsali moments, which occured during the horrendous conditions of the 2007 SERC race. I'm sure anyone who was there remembers how bad the trails were and how destroyed their bikes were afterwards. The bike shops should have to give kickbacks to goneriding for all the brake pads they sold. But anyways, I had caught up to one of the expert women just in time to watch her slide out in a corner and land in a 6 inch deep puddle of muddy water. As she picked up her bike, there was a sucking sound and then a plop. Looking at the bike, the grip on the left side of the bar was gone. We sort of looked at the bar, then the puddle, then gave each other the universal WTF look. One of the funniest random race moments I've experienced... She declined to attempt to fish the grip out of the muck.]

Last year's race was only slightly better. Due to some problems with trying to get our bikes onto the rack and having to call random people at 6am to try and borrow a hitch rack, we made it to the venue only 25 minutes before the start. Trying to get dressed, registered, and get my stuff together at bunny speed was not really how I wanted to start the day. At least it didn't rain. As there were about 15 knoxville people doing the race and offering support, I figured I wouldn't have any problems with getting my bottles filled and minimal support duties taken care of. So with the same lemans start up the gravel road, I hopped on and plunged into the dusty cloud that filled the entire course for the first lap. It took about 3 laps for my eyes to finally flush out the dust and feel normal again, it was quite ridiculous. As I was coming through transition, I kept noticing that my empty bottles I tossed down were not getting refilled, and as I switched bikes, chains were not being cleaned/lubed. I was sort of confused as to why nobody was helping me, but didn't think too much of it.

I was a little more worried when I grabbed my last mixed bottle 5 hours in. Luckily, when I came through the next lap, Mark had just started mixing me up a new batch so I was able to just grab it and go instead of mixing my own. After a few more unmotivated laps and wasted time in the pits cleaning chains and minor repairs, I started thinking about the burn 24 hour race that was coming up the next week, and decided to just hit 100 miles and call it a day. Accomplishing that, I packed my stuff up and headed down to where the knoxville crew was camped. I was kind of bummed out at the lack of support. I have no problem racing unsupported, but I usually like to know that going into the race, not finding out in the middle.

At the campsite, Abby greeted me with a "How was your sandwich?" I gave her the raised eyebrow and look of confusion. "The sandwiches I made you, how were they?" It turned out that Abby had been supporting my competition and neighbor in the pits all day. She found his nutrition stuff and made him sandwiches, mixed up bottles, etc... So random, but it made for a good laugh after another forgettable day at Tsali.

So, back to the present... The third time is gonna be the charm. I'm still sort of indecisive on what I'm doing for the race. Options are:

1. Race open with the neglected pile of carbon in my corner.
2. Race open on the Rig, being "that guy".
3. Race the SS class with the Rig.

Looks like I've got til 11:59:59 tomorrow...hmm...


Post a Comment