Monday, August 20, 2007

Fool's Gold 2007

Quick facts and Numbers:

Tenth out of 89 riders in the 51.987654365 mile race

Zero crashes, cramps, mechanicals, forks, shocks, camel bak’s

One Gear, 32X20

Two qualified “OH shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit” moments

One guardian angel

A little under six hours on the course

Seven pre-race beers, an insurmountable amount of post race beers

Six hours of volunteer work at checkpoint 4 after my race

An hour and a half of “rescue” riding from 8:45 – 10:00 with one borrowed light

Less than 10 finishers of the 100 mile race

6,000 – 8,000 feet of climbing

With those short facts behind us I will describe what I believe to be one of my best races to date. I am going to really enjoy writing this because it is the first time I have really felt like I was racing the entire time out on the course.

Fool’s before the race:

After checking in and eating dinner Friday night, I attempted to re-stans my tires by deflating them and squirting stans through the valve stem. I was partially successful and they aired back up perfectly.

I then proceeded over to the Sweetwater 420 keg and drank about six beers while chatting with Chris, Allan and TeamDicky. We really didn’t chat about the race much, mostly movies, books and general bullshitting.

We slept in little 4H bunkhouse cabins with metal bunk beds and metal springs that went errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk, weaky weaky, whenever anyone moved, breathed or had a tremor. I slept well for awhile until I had an extremely disturbing dream and then Rebecca Tomawikiwikiwiki and I proceeded to turn over in our combined bunk 4,002 times creating a mechanical music festival that would have beached flipper.

In the morning, I got over to the start line in time to wish Rick good luck in his first quest at a hundie. I rode up the first gravel climb, listed to Eddie’s pre-race speech and attempted to film the 100 mile start but it was too dark to see anything. The only thing you would “hear” on the video would be Rebecca saying “It’s too dark, we can’t see the arrows.” And Rick yelling “Tomatooooooooooooooo.”

I was surprised at the amount of racer types lined up for the 50 mile race. I spotted Kristin setting up for pictures and figured I would give her a show. I took off at the “go” and got the hole shot onto the gravel road. After the first turn, you will see me thrust my arm in the air as I yelled Mr. Bean style “I’m Winning, I’m Winning!” (I have the videos loaded but can't access them yet at work) The first 12 miles were a brutal gravel road climb, my lead would last for about 300 yards.

I hadn’t warmed up and my legs turned to bricks as I watched about fifteen leaders take off in a pack. During the first portion of the climb I would watch another ten to fifteen people roll by me. I figured it was going to be another one of those rides.

As the road pitched steeper I started passing people back. Then the road pitched even steeper and I started passing more people and I saw a Vassago singlespeeder walking his bike. The climb was rutted severely over the whole road, steep with a 30% grade and loose rock. I thought I would blow up just trying to get to the top.

I passed a few more on my quest to find the first single track and finally I made it a little over 12 miles to the first rest stop, I blew by the rest stop and about 5 people “resting” or getting ready to head back out. One of those five, was the Vassago singlespeeder again as he had motored back by me after the steep section early on.

Eddie had warned us about the next section; it was a steep rock road descent that got fast, upwards of 40 miles an hour. It had huge ruts that I am sure had caused some amber alerts from kids getting lost in there. I got in behind two suspended geared riders that were throwing up so much dust that I couldn’t see. All of the sudden I hit the ruts at about 30 miles an hour, a sped up drunken mechanical bull bronco ride commenced. I felt my front tire bottom out twice and thought for sure I was going down hard to ultimately end my race. Somehow I pulled it out, pulled my head out of my ass and continued on to pass both of the gearies on the way down.

We finally hit the first single track and it was fun. Nice and flowy, I passed three people and was generally having a blast. After a small climb, the widely spaced forest opened up to an incredible view of the gorgeous Georgia Mountains.

I made quick work at rest stop two, I was there less than 40 seconds, passed a few more people and continued on to suffer up the bull mountain section. A root strewn, rutted out climb made my heart rate spike as I hunted down some more carrots. I knew if I could pass most of the people in my way on the climb, they would never catch back up on the downhill twists and turns.

There was an old rocky roadbed climb that made me feel good, I was able to sit down and really churn the pedals hard, it was at this point that I realized I might be making up a lot of time and actually racing hard.

After a creek crossing, a steep road bed forced me to walk for a minute. As I got off the bike I saw a racer stopped for a nature break. It was Rick, I said a quick hello, he said he was right on pace to finish the 100 and we bid each other adieu.

It was then that I realized that I had no idea if I was passing 50 milers or 100 milers. It didn’t matter, I just wanted to pass them all.

Rest stop three, the same spot as two was my longest of the day as I ate a little, replenished my food supply and lubed my chain. I was there about a minute and a half.

I was done with about 30 miles and headed into a 15 mile stretch between rest stops. It was a tough section with some unrideable sections of steeply rutted single track. About 5 miles into this section, I felt better than I ever had and I was hammering hard up some steep climbs and passing some more folks. I eventually caught up with the only 50 mile woman racer that had passed me on the first climb. We were rolling down some super fast straight rutted out single track descents and I was amazed at how fast she was descending.

As I was flying behind her, I pulled a real bad line into a steeply rutted wall, unclipped my right foot at about 25 miles an hour and kicked the ground twice in an attempt to stay upright. Thanks to the Nevegal gods, my front tire didn’t let go and I pulled out my second sphincter shrinking moment. I realized that I better pay attention if I wanted to drink beer in 11 miles instead of visiting the ER.

I passed the fast descending woman from Chattanooga up a steep climb and continued on to pass another fellow. A mile later I hit my low point of the race. I struggled hard, my stomach grew sour and it was everything I had to pedal up the grades.

I popped out onto the gravel and saw some volunteers directing people into a turn. I saw Chris there and I had never expected to see him. He had motored off with the front five and stayed there for the majority of the day. He had ran out of water and was hurting bad. The volunteer told me 3 miles to rest stop four and I passed Chris and another fellow headed into the single track. I popped back onto the road and Namrita gave me some encouragement and direction to the next sag.

I rolled into the sag with a bunch of 50 milers (3 – 4) and Kristin was there filling bottles and just generally being a fantastic volunteer as always. I told her that I was hitting a wall and she told me to gitty up and get back on the course. Kristin handed me a bottle of what I thought was water and I chugged half of it and realized I had an awful toothpaste taste in my mouth. I said “what the hell is that?” Jessie said “That is RapidAide and it is supposed to be some great electrolytes.” As far as I had figured it was the worst shit I had ever put in my mouth and I could feel my stomach wrenching. The fast descending girl from Chattanooga rolled up, Chris rolled up and I figured I better boogie.

I took off as hard as I could up the climb from sag four hoping they all were watching me and thinking they would never see me again even though I felt like utter poopy. I never saw them again.

During the ensuing climb I could feel my stomach battling back against the juicy juice that was RapidAide. I finally overcame the puking sensation after I hit the single track.

The last 8 miles were un-eventful fun single track and gravel miles. I passed two more people and dreamed about jumping in the river that flowed next to the last single track sections.

There were two creeks along the rock road to the end that were hub deep. I only saw baby heads in the deepest parts so I made sure to hit them at 15 plus miles an hour and that caused an over head monster truck splash that made my so happy it is indescribable.

I saw one more victim climbing up an asphalt road less than a half mile from the finish. I flew past him hoping I had scared a chase out of him as I knew a descent was coming up and all he had to do was big ring it down the hill to get me. I kept him behind and rolled across the finish number 10 and what I believe was first single speeder but that is not confirmed as it wasn’t a class.

Post Race Fools

After lunch and a couple beers, I asked Namrita when Kristin was going to come back from aide station four. She said she didn’t have anybody to relieve her so I volunteered as long as I got some beer. They gave me some Terrapin and she drove me out to the stop. Kristin was happy to see me so we stayed with Jessie to help with the sag.

This was the most rewarding part of the day. Kristin instructed me how to be an excellent volunteer and I slammed beers while encouraging 50 miler’s to continue on to the finish. It was great to lift spirits and convince them to continue on.

As we waited and waited and waited for the hundies to start rolling in we knew that this was one of the toughest 100 milers now on the circuit as it was a little before 4:00 before first place came through looking strong.

Next up was Harvey “Guns” Minton and he was looking rough but strong. He said “do you have any RapidAide” and as I put three huge scoops into a bottle for him, I was amazed that anyone liked that crap.

Rich flew through in fourth looking strong and I was pissed that he flew through so quickly as I didn’t even have a chance to heckle him. He was finishing strong and I was thoroughly impressed. I would later get him back for not staying up to party with me. I convinced some other un-named folks to help me wrap his car tepee style with caution tape as he slept inside.

The most inspiring moment of my day was after Trish and second place women’s 100 came through, Rebecca came rolling up at 7:00. She was crushed, her spirits had been drop kicked by Chuck Norris and she admitted that she had been crying for the last two hours. It was our moment to shine as volunteers. We encouraged her by telling her that most people had DNF’d and she was guaranteed third place, she had to go on. She was past the cutoff for going out without lights and she didn’t have any. Being a problem solver by nature I grabbed Allan’s lights and strapped them to her helmet for her. I figured Allan would be welcome to help and afterward when I told him, he was glad he was able to help someone finish.

As Rebecca left the station, we were cheering and she was pumping her fist in the air. It was awesome.

A few minutes later, my new hero Rick showed up right at 7:45 the cutoff for the race. His spirits were just as high as they were when I had left him 30 miles into the race. He looked fresh, took some calories and water and we hooked him up with his lights. Another fellow that didn’t have lights was going to head out with Rebecca but was too dizzy, he asked me if he could go on with Rick. I made them promise to stay together and Rick made him promise to let him win the Terrapin’s slowest rider of the race for a case of beer and they took off through the woods. I felt like a proud Father.

Volunteering at a race like this is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. It rocks the house.

Post-Post Fool’s Race Rescue

Jessie had gone out to help bring in a severely dehydrated and devastated racer. I was on my 9th beer and fifth slug of bourbon when Eddie pulled up to say that there was a guy out between sags two and four that was un-accounted for. I told him I would help. We drove back to camp, I got geared back up and Eddie and I headed out for a night rescue ride.

I was slowing Eddie down but amazed as we rode part of the section from sag 3 – 4 and I was able to power up most of the climbs. We eventually found racer 102 who was with lights and still on the course. Somebody had given him lights and I still don’t quite understand how he was gone for so long between sags but he eventually finished. Our rescue ended just in time as I popped out onto the road when my borrowed light’s battery failed.

Thanks to Eddie and Namrita for a great race. The course although lacking a little technical difficulty was hard and rewarding.

Thanks to all the volunteers that went above and beyond their duties as volunteers and my only sponsor ever E-Designs!


allan said...

Great job zenmaster. I had a blast. Eddie and Nam definitely do an awesome job.

Talked yourself into Shenandoah yet?

Luis said...

Great ride!!!


Eddie O said...

Thanks for coming and helping with the "rescue." In the end we only floated 3's a shame really.

Next year!

Eddie O

Jody said...

Nice work man. Way to get after all them doper/shaver/racerboys!

Wickiwicki said...

Thanks for being there to support my demoralized self. That was one hell of a race!....I was wondering how people had heard about my little "girlie moment," I mean "girlie hours." Now I know tha truf...