Get to the campsite, grab my bike, go-bag and emergency beer. Head to the start. Sign-in takes seven seconds. I have an hour to kill.
Get dressed, drink one Busch beer, do little that could be considered useful or beneficial.
People are flying by me on the flat portion of 477. A few single speeders go by, using their taller gears and little tires to fly past. Some guy I don't know, Chris Joice, Scott Smith, and eventually when the climbing starts... Nick. I keep him in sight, and when we get to the top of the climb, he reaches down to drink. I attack. He won't keep up on the descent. I'm cheating with my big tires, low PSI and drooper. Goodbye... or see you later. I guess we'll see.
Back on the bike, I pull out my Tülbag, ignore the rattling until I get my 5mm in my teeth, and pull over to fix it. Tight but rubbing the rotor now. Better than falling off, getting wrapped up in my wheel and killing me, I guess.
photo cred: Rob CoulterAll of Team Dicky showed up for the race.
There's some more back and forth with Scott and Chris. Where their gears and skinny tires are working for them, they put the hurt on me. When those things matter less, I bury myself to take full advantage of my reduced disadvantage. Skip the first aid station and I heap up towards the Parkway ahead of both of them, by my reckoning, in third place single speed.
On the gravel climb up Wash Creek Road, I notice that the sweat pouring from my helmet is brown. 100 miles of Shenandoah dripping into my eyes like a swamp water bucket challenge. I coulda cleaned my helmet. I didn't. Some pointless back and forth with someone who didn't seem to want to ride behind me but not go faster than I needed to go... made my head hurt more than my legs.
The Parkway is hell with my squishy fat tires. I've had to pee for the last hour. I skip the second aid station but stupidly come off the Parkway to pointlessly roll through it. Doh. More climbing. I ask a fellow rider for information I know I probably don't wanna hear.
"We're only at mile forty... still have to climb up through Graveyard Fields."
Shit. I've been up there before, ironically with Eric "PMBAR Honcho" Wever. I am now sad. Good time to stop and pee. Five minutes later, Chris Joice rolls by on his cross bike thing. Bastard. There is not enough gravel descending left for my bike to be an advantage. I'm now more sad.
Down the pavement of 215, my knobs making a noise I've never heard before. The pitch and rhythm changing as I lean into the corners at some speed I'm not comfortable with. At the bottom of 215... The Hub/Pisgah Tavern aid station.
Up the back of Gloucester Gap. I don't ever remember being here before, but I probably have. It's steep towards the end which would explain why if I had been here before, my brain was blocking the memory. Once at the top, the long cakewalk begins.
Knowing that the SS'ers pushing bigger gears with smaller tires would be able to take minutes out of me here, I turn myself inside-out pumping like a sewing machine. The finish was in sight, a couple riders closing in... too fast to be on single speeds.
They close the gap, make the pass, take the left turn into the finish, get to the three cyclocross barriers right in front of me... and then decide to walk over them, celebrating, me stuck behind their smiling selves.
I consider throwing my bike, but then I remember this is cross and one should only throw beer.
photo cred: Shop KittyAnd I beat Nick... so there's that.
He tried to blame his loss on an infected nose piercing.
More things and stuff tomorrow.