Monday, February 05, 2007

The Icycle Experience

This weekend was a lot of fun. I am not quite sure where to start, so I will break it up for those who don’t want to hear about all the pre-game jazz. However, what happened off the race course was probably more exciting than on.

Friday’s Pre-Game:

Kristin and I left Greenville around 3:30 on Friday headed toward Fontanna Village. I had thoughts of the Tail of the Dragon as I wound through the mountains at a blistering 15 mph. The roads were pretty slippery but we made it to the village without incident.

We arrived to cold kegs and a warm place to rest our heads. I put my game face on and prepared for my first XC single speed race by downing about 10 sweetwater 420’s. Carb loading.

Saturday’s Pre-Game Warm-up:

I decided that two five mile laps was not nearly enough exercise for the day so I suited up early and pre-rode the XC course. The course started in a ball field and immediately went straight up a grassy hill. Fifty yards of pavement put you at a left turn onto a hike-a-bike steep double track climb. The course was pretty tacky and hard with some frozen snow thrown in for extra traction. After the hike, you went up and up. The first downhill was rocky but there was a ripping line all the way down with two tight switchbacks. After that there was a couple frozen bridges thrown in the mix and some flowing single track. There was one steep uphill that I could hardly hike up. It was super steep and frozen.

After the pre-ride, I had determined my mountain gear would work nicely. The course would be more appropriately named Cross Mountain.

Single Speed Racin’:

We watched the Expert class run to their bikes and take off up the hill. Twenty-three single speeder’s were up next. We got the go-ahead and took off toward our bikes. I had laid my bike at the end of the line so that is where I ran. Oooops, where is my bike? Where is my bike? A couple people had come after me and I lost a few seconds running around screaming “Drunken Monkey WHERE ARE YOUUUUUUUU?”

I hate the beginning of races, I got off the bike and pushed up the first single track climb along with 22 other racers. I hate pushing in races even more because I am no good at it. I was third to last once I was back on my bike.

I felt ok and passed a few people on the climb. As I neared the first downhill I passed a couple more and was able to rip the downhill and catch up to a train of seven people close to the bottom. We slowly navigated the frozen bridge (which I walked in my warm up and I found out later that at least one racer fell off the bridge) and took off on the single track. I was not happy knowing that I could have been faster on the only turns on the course. I yelled for the front man to pick up the pace. I got around a few people to only be passed when the trail kicked up hill. I wasn’t climbing very well.

Out of the woods and up the ball field again for the second lap. I felt even faster on the downhills and single track the second time but my legs were still sluggish going up hill. I ripped the one wet section too fast and found myself in the woods paralleling the trail for a couple seconds. That was my only navigational error. I ended up 14/23.

It’s amazing how 10 miles at full power can do the same as 50 semi-easy miles. I had almost forgotten the pain of XC.

Post XC:

Filled up a few beers and we all warmed up by the fire. I had to stop after a few beers since I wanted to do the “Hard Ass” class in the downhill. I watched as Jason got ready for the downhill. I started to wonder how the course would be as I watched Terminator 7,000 get ready in the cabin.

Practice Downhill:

I convinced Jody to run a practice lap with me. So we geared up and caught the Budget rental shuttle to the top of the hill. That was by far the scariest part of the downhill as I spied a Coors in the driver’s side beverage holder.

Big bikes first, then myself and Jody followed them down the hill. It was a fast beginning with one drop off and a couple jumps that shot you over some roots. There was a quick uphill and then three tight switchbacks to the end. We passed two fully rigged riders on the quick up and then there was a couple fast banked turns. I spied a camera man up ahead and took my hands off the brakes. As I was looking at the camera, I realized I was at the first switchback. I burned right through it and shot about 40 feet into the woods. I wrestled my way back up and slid around the next corner to find Jody lying on the ground. The last two switchbacks were frozen solid with ice. YIKES!


Women first, experts, sport, beginner then fully rigid, my number was 149 and we were going in order at one minute intervals. Shit.

I killed time by building up the barrel fire and watching everyone else stay warm.

After an agonizing hour and a half of standing around I was up. I was the first rigid rider, and I didn’t go nearly as fast as I did on my practice. I just wanted to get down. I was slow and luckily they had salted the last two switchbacks so they were ride able.

I made it down without incident and ended up third out of four and 5 seconds behind second.


Palmetto Solo said...

Sounds like a blast, good to hear you did so well. The write up as always hillarious. I was wondering if you would miss a turn. In the future if the lead guy want get out of the way just yell louder.

Sir Belt Buckle said...

Nice write up. Sounds like it was a blast. Good to hear you didn't take any trees with ya on the, uh, alternate paths.

ian said...

tomato... always fun. mtbr crew with full representation! great time, good seeing you guys again. we need to ride togehter really soon.