Monday, June 25, 2007

Cowbell 2007

Pre-Race Quickie

Friday before the race, I spent the day in Charleston SC. I had the entire day to myself so I hung out at the beach for a couple hours when I realized that I had soaked up enough sun before my 12 hour battle with it’s rays on Saturday, so I drove downtown for lunch and to check out the memorial for the 9 fallen firefighters.

Saturday Pre-Race

Being the great guy Dennis is, he had a pop-up tent awaiting my arrival Saturday morning. As soon as I pulled into the venue, I started seeing all the faces of my nut ball friends. That is truly sincere. My tent was set up about 20 feet from the timing tent, so I went to work setting up my barrage of supplies for the race. I wanted everything to be laid out nicely so I wouldn’t have to think during the race.

Then I started seeing all the blogosphere faces:

Jeremy, Namrita, Eddie, Wes riding with D-Kuntz, Allan, Alreigh, Palmetto Solo. . .

Some other friends were there riding on teams such as Team “Fat, The Other White Meat” which consisted of Rick, Jeff and Sarah. They kicked ass too by the way. I saw that Mike Brown and Ian were riding in the two man division along with Dennis and Wes. Lots of competition running around in every category, in total there were close to 200 racers.

I found out that we were not doing a Le Mans start, instead it would be a parade lap. This set me back as I was banking on the start being a run and a steep climb like last year. Now it was going to be a flat spinning hell. In all actuallity though, the start this year was much smoother than last year.

Right after the pre-race meeting I saw Namrita and we talked ratios for a sec. Namrita was running 32X20 and I was surprised and wondered if my choice of 32X22 was good. Namrita said “The course is fast and rolling.” Hmmmm, I hadn’t pre-rode the course and my memories from last year were steep and hot.

Race Time, Bow Chikky wow wowwwwwwwww

I stood with my boy’s that were wearing the Harrell’s colors and awaited the start. My normal pre-race jitters turned my humor on full blast. I was kidding with Toby earlier in the day about running a 32X15 and that is exactly what the cat in front of me had on his bike. He said “I just hope the pistons don’t stop firing.” HOLY LORD MAN, I guess so.

Next thing I knew, I was choking on dust, spinning like a drunk on Saturday night watching everybody pass me during the prologue lap. When we first entered the single-track it was twisty with some quick steep ups so I had to talk some smack to keep things moving at a strong enough clip to keep on the bike.

"Singlespeeder, go go go, move up that hill. . . " Not that it mattered in the end but it sure was fun.

Not before long, I settled into the 12 hour pace. Around a ¼ lap into the race, I thanked myself for sticking with my gear choice. The course was fun, super fun, the kind of course that makes you smile, grimace, gap doubles, launch kickers and suffer, suffer, suffer.

On the first lap, I felt my rear tire mash pretty good a couple times and I wondered if I had lost pressure in my tubeless system. Time would tell me that this is just how the tires feel running tubeless. The wheel/tire combo stuck to the course like glue and I never even thought about a mechanical after the first lap. Thanks Joe!!

I stopped briefly by my pit after lap one, shot some hammer gel which I was carrying on me and took some electrolytes. Then I grabbed two bottles and took off for my second lap.

Here is how the course flowed:

Down around a fast gravel single track corner and then you are doing about 17-20 mph. This momentum shoots you up a hill into the single track. Then you swoop and swerve through the trees and make some quick uphill grunts. The next thing I remember is a ridge ride that was great fun and fast. You could keep your momentum flowing right up the next incline and ride the ridge up to a quick double track section. I took some water and reached for my gel flask. It wasn’t in my jersey, CRAP, that meant over an hour and all I had was water.

Lots of great flow though the woods and some killer rutted out downhills that my suspension ate up, that being the two inches from the bottom of my tire to the rim. After the halfway point, we went into the “pressure cooker.” It was hot and humid as all get out on that section and it took all of my will power to make it up the climbs. There were some wicked roots and a sinkhole of death (really it was only 6 feet deep.) After this, you came out to a field climb, where last year’s race started, then it was all cruising to the timing tent. The very end of the course was great as you flew down a powerline over a section of rocks and then rocketed up the next hill to the timing tent.

After lap two I stopped by the pit and there was my gel flask sitting on the table. I opened up a peanut butter and jelly, took one bite and it was everything I had not to give it right back to the ground. It was not going to be a good day for solids considering it was a sultry 95 degrees all day. I did my best ingesting what I could and took off for lap three.

The number of racers on the course was perfect. Before the six hour race ended, I was constantly pacing with others, being passed and passing a few. There was great sportsmanship all the way around. Wes would come up behind me say “Hey Jonathon ya need anything?” I would respond with “new legs” and then he was off like the road runner down the trail. He and Dennis would eventually go on to get second in the two man class.

During the third lap Jeremy passed me right before a little downhill fun section and I watched as he booted of the same jump that I had the lap before. The only problem is the jump shoots you toward a tree and you have to make sure your mojo is flowing or you will end up hurt. I took the no-air route every lap after two.

Lap four was a slow one, the mid race sloth that I always feel was coming on strong. I did everything I could to purge the bad thoughts from my head. Kristin was ever encouraging with her smack talk. The help this brought is amazing to say the least. All the words of encouragement at that point are awesome. Somehow you figure they are lying though. As I would come crawling up the hill (I swore I saw somebody’s grandma pass me on a beach cruiser but maybe I was flashing back to Friday) spectators would say “Your looking great.” If great meant, dehydrated, constipated, exasperated and generally lacking good nutrition, then I would agree.

Laps five and six went off pretty good. I was climbing hard and feeling swell. Then came lap seven. I got some pretty mean inner thigh cramps, walked a bunch and thought about eating something. I came slowly rolling up to the halfway point where there was water and a small support crew. There was some really slow island music playing. I asked the fellow standing there if I was in heaven or hell. He said “I figure some good Fiji Island music would take your minds off the pain.”

As I rolled through the pressure cooker on lap seven, I wondered if it would be my last lap. Everything seemed ultra-dark and slow. I was sure that this lap was going to take me over 3 hours and I would be done with the race. That was until I came out of the woods and saw that there was plenty of daylight. The woods were playing tricks on me.

I asked Mr. Fiji what time it was and he said “7:02.” That’s when I made my decision of one more lap and I would once again fall 20 miles short of my goal of a hundred miles.

I am not quite sure how my father captured this moment so accurately but it explains exactly how I felt:

Lap Eight went off like lap seven and I rolled across the line right after 9:00. I was glad to be done and I felt as though I had left it all out there. I would guess I gave it 105%.

I can’t say enough to Taylor (organizer), the volunteers, racers, spectators, medics (thank god I didn’t need them) and especially my Father and Kristin. They were out in the heat all day taking pictures and giving encouragement. Without them all, I would have done one lap and gone rafting.

Ultimately I was 13th out of 44 racers in the Open Men’s class. However I am going off other's words. I never looked at the results.



namrita o'dea said...

Nice work. You were riding strong!

Lwac said...

Only K had the smack-yak? Ah heck, tell the truth - share some of the "manly advise" Dad gave ya.

Enjoyed the write up.

The Goat said...

Great Riding Mater! I let it get to me. Great going toughing it out and sticking a awesome finish.