25 July 2011 - 23:06Race Day Awesomized, Part 2 (Electric Boogaloo)
C’mon, you knew that was coming… anyway…
So after the initial shakedown ride of the RDO, Dough and I headed back to Waterbury to get cleaned up and went in search of a good pre-race meal. We went to the Alchemist, had dinner and a few of the IPAs that were on tap. Seemed like it was the right thing to do, as we were going into the 6 hour race in a pretty non-serious frame of mind. Still, we managed to keep it under control, and went to bed at a reasonable hour.
Morning came way too quickly, and we had to get our act together to load up the car and get to the race . We needed breakfast, the bikes, the tent and my portable grill. We didn’t have to rush, but we had no time to dilly dally. We hit up the Shaw’s in Williston for our pit supplies, 3 gallons of water, a bunch of bananas, a box of cookies and a bag of blue corn chips (the really good ones). Oh, and a case of PBR and bag of ice. We already had a pack of jalepeno chicken sausages that we planned on eating for a speedy recovery meal. Upon arrival, we got ourselves registered, as Team Car Ram Rod. We even wrote it down.
Dough announced he would lead off, leaving me to set up our cozy little pit area. He was barely changed when the call “2 minutes” was announced over the PA, so we hustled over to the start line. I forgot the cowbell in the car, so I couldn’t give the starters a good send off. I checked with the race officials on where the tag out zone would be, and made sure I had all my stuff together and got ready for my lap.
The rumor was that 45 minutes was fast for the 6.5 mile course. Dough came in right about when I was expecting him (he is fast), so we tagged and I headed out for my lap. The first part of the course was flowy and quick. There were some fast open sections, but the singletrack was tight, and required concentration to pick the smoothest line. Lots of turning, bobbing and weaving through the trees. This part of the course was fairly flat, and you could get a decent head of speed, but there were a couple of spots that could take you by surprise if you had not previously ridden the course.
Fortunately for me, my prior experience at Wednesday Night Worlds was paying off, I recognized a lot of spots where I knew I had the advantage of big wheels, and knowing the line to take. Lines that don’t necessarily look very appealing to little wheelers. The next section was a gradual uphill slog, one that I am all too familiar with. I used this time to drink, and get my heart rate back down before going back into the tight and twisty and now boney singletrack. The next feature was a pretty rough and technical climb up some rocky, rooty switchbacks up to Indian Lookout, which is the big climb of the race, except you get a reprieve for a little bit before having to climb it again from the other side. Then a fast, technical (and quite flowy) descent, a couple of evil little punchy climbs, then some really tight, boney flat singletrack that was hard to ride with any speed, then a fast wide open cruise back to the lap zone.
When I finished my first lap, Dough was nowhere to be found. I checked out of the course and headed to the pit to find Dough with his bike hanging from the tent, with wrenches in his hand. He turned and looked at me and said “oh, you’re here already? I wasn’t expecting you this soon!”
Bastard. Anyway, I churned out a pretty decent lap time, right around that 45 minute fast guy time. He headed back out on course, and I got my next lap’s fuel and hydration ready. I like this race format, as I don’t need to carry a ton of stuff with me. I tried to drink 1 bottle per lap, and 1 in the pit. And a beer. I did some stretches, checked my bike over, and headed back to the tag out zone.
Photo cred: Shot in VT
Because Dough is fast, and went out with the fast lead solo guys, when we tagged out I was right on that train. It was fun riding with the fast guys for a while, I even passed them on a short punchy up, one of the afore mentioned areas where I know the line, and actually lead the train for a short period of time. I had a bit of a breakaway for a while, but I let them pass me before the monster up, as I thought it would be rude to hold them up. I was riding well, but can not climb at the pace they were climbing.
And so it went. After Dough finished lap 3 he informed me he was having a visit from the cramps, at which point we had a brief team meeting on what our expectations might be. I only had expectations for 3 laps anyway, but was surprised to see how quickly we were making them happen. I was still feeling pretty good, testament to what suspension and gears can do for you. I made decent time on my 3rd lap, made the necessary adjustments in line choice to maximize my time. The climbs were getting tough, but I still wasn’t cramping.
Upon my arrival at the tag out, Dough was there, and he said was a go for lap 4. It was getting late in the day, but I knew that we would have a shot at doing well, IF I could complete a 4th lap. Dough went out, I had my beer, a banana, some space food, and got my accoutrements ready for my lap. I was beginning to get hungry on my 3rd, and I knew that was going to be an issue on my 4th. I stuffed some Gu Chomps in my pocket to stave off any would be hunger pangs that might visit me on course.
My pit stop was short and I hung out at the tag out station waiting for Dough. I kept a pretty close eye on my Garmin, we’d been doing well with the sub 45 minute lap times, and if he came in before 2:15, I would have my chance to earn us 8 laps. Dough rolled in at 2:14, and I took off like a shot.
In the excitement, I completely forgot to turn my Garmin on until right before I hit the first singletrack. I kinda knew where I was on course, but without the ability to track my time and mileage, it became a full on time trial. I kept my eye on the clock and gave it my all. I had a few close calls with some trees that could have been costly, not to mention painful if I hadn’t saved it in the knick of time. I decided that aggressively conservative would be the best approach in the flat singletrack. But during the climbs, I became a little more frantic. I wasn’t able to turn over the gear I wanted, and I was beginning to cramp. With one eye on the clock I dug deep and made it up the big hill, and saw that it was 2:40. I knew I could do this in 20 minutes, but only if I sprinkled some andale on it. There was still 3 climbs of note to deal with, and I knew I would loose time there, so I decided to up my DH game. Conservative went right out the window, and I got reacquainted with my best friend and nemesis, gravity.
Photo cred: Shot in VT
This was working out for me, well, for at least the next 10 minutes. Right around 2:50, it was apparent that something was not right with my front tire. In fact, it was going flat in an alarmingly quick way. I was really close to the flat wide open section, but there was no way I could ride it. I busted out my CO2, and blasted the tire bead back into the rim, at which point, 2 fountains of Stan’s began to shoot out of either side of the tire. Shit. I tried to jiggle the wheel to get the sealant to do it’s job, to no avail. 2:54 by my Garmin.
Fuck it. I started to run.
As I was running to beat the devil, a bunch of riders began to pass me, including Nina – one of Mandy’s friends and a veritable baddass on a bike, zoomed by me. She was in the duo class too, so I knew that I would be down a place at the finish. But I could still beat the clock. I kept running, and trundled across the finish line with the time of 2:58 on my Garmin. I beat the clock by 2 minutes. Team Car Ram Rod had just squeaked in 8 laps.
Dough greeted me at the finish with an ice cold PBR, and it never tasted so good. We cooked up the sausages at the pit, hung out with E-Dog and the notorious BOB (both of whom raced solo), traded tales of the day’s battle, and tipped back several cold delicious PBRs.
At the award ceremony, we found that Team Car Ram Rod’s effort was good enough for second place. We both felt that this was a pretty awesome achievement considering my mid-afternoon jog. We got to go up to the prize table and pick out some goodies, then packed up the tent and headed for home, tired but happy.
SO, was the bike Race Day Optimized? I promise I’ll tell you tomorrow.