Friday, August 21, 2009

Fool's Gold, Part 2


And with that we were off. The course looked pretty tough on paper, as it started with an 11 mile fireroad climb. Not a typo... The course then descended, and had another long singletrack climb. The rest was smaller climbs, but was still of the “up forever, down forever” variety, which doesn't leave much for recovery.

I started in the first pack, but found myself dropped by most of the geared guys on a small descent before the climb really started. I looked around, and noticed myself hanging on the coattails of a group containing 6 other singlespeeders, and no geared guys. I stayed slightly off this group until the climb steepened up and got looser about 3.5 miles in. At this point, I was working way harder than I should be at this point in a long race, and let them go. I worked my way to the top of the mountain after a short pitstop to try and fix my saddle bag [apparently velcro tends to die in the mud and not work anymore, who knew...]

The descent off the first climb was kind of shady, as it was steep enough to go 35 mph, but very rutted out, covered in loose gravel and fist sized rocks, and had traffic coming up the other side. I survived, and entered some sweet swoopy singletrack to make it the second aid station. The next section was a long and steep singletrack climb, covered with roots and rocks. The 32x20 was a good choice, but I was still standing up on most of it since all the roots made it tough to stay seated. After topping out, another long descent took me to a slightly downhill fireroad and back to Aid Station 2/3.

From here, the course went out more fireroad before hitting a doubletrack climb that was nice and smooth. The top turned off onto singletrack for another short climb, and then a descent back down to the fireroad and aid station 4/5. More fireroad took me to another singletrack, which was extremely rutted out. Climbing this section seemed to take forever, and you were rewarded only with getting to go down forever on similar rutted trails.

From here it was practically over for the lap, with only 2 short singletrack sections left, and a bit of uphill fireroad. I finished the first lap feeling great, and started up the behemoth climb again. I was rocking it until the hill steepened again, but then died, and rode like a little girl the rest of the way up. I had dropped a rider at the base like he was standing still, and he returned the favor a few minutes later.

I got caught by the women's leader at the top, and she passed me as a I stopped to pour water on my head. I caught her soon after the descent, and rode decently the rest of the day. Nothing else really exciting happened the second lap. It was actually kind of dead, as I went about 25 miles without seeing anyone else at one point.

I rolled into the finish in 9:50 and 9th place in a strong SS field, where I was handed a bar of soap and pointed to the showers. Real showers at a race are kind of a nice rarity. I got my gear loaded and hung out a bit before heading back to Knoxville to sleep in my own bed. Overall Fool's Gold was a really tough race with all the climbing, roots, rocks and ruts. Not as technical or miserable as Shenandoah, but just a darn tough day in the woods.


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