Monday, August 17

Fool's Gold 2009/ Now poison free

I was standing around with Elk and fellow endurance camper Todd Henne late Friday night shooting the proverbial shit. Elk asked me what I thought would be the reasonable amount of time to cover 100 miles in the Georgia mountains. Since I had done this race the previous two years it was assumed I would have a clue. The first year I did this race it was 100 degrees and the course was over 110 miles, and my second year at Fool's Gold I started the race slightly poisoned (as Tyler likes to remind me) and got quite lost for awhile (my fault). I was not the right person to ask when it came to estimating the time, and I'm not sure how we came up with an answer, but we all agreed sub-nine hours would be something to strive for in terms of normal human performance.

At the start with Captain Morgan looking dazed behind me and Skiddaldophy looking resplendent in Twin Six attire.

When the race started I went off the front attached to the rear wheel of none other than Chris Eatough (video evidence here in case you think I'm full of shit). After keeping Chris from making a wrong turn fifteen seconds into the race we were headed up the big climb to Cooper Gap. Gerry "The Pflug" Pflug took right to the front of the lead group with great haste. I decided to close the gap and introduce myself to "The Pflug". I pulled along side of him and said "Hey Gerry".

"The Pflug" he replied

"Yes, sorry... hey The Pflug" I sheepishly responded.

"Mister The Pflug to you" he said through gritted teeth.

"Mr The Pflug, did you know that the first person to the top of Cooper's Gap will have a virgin sacrificed is his name?" I queried.

Gerry... sorry, The Pflug stood on his pedals in anger and screamed out "The Pflug wants sacrifice!!!", and he rode away never to be seen again. Either that happened, or I rode up to Gerry as he was riding off the front, introduced myself, made a flippant comment about "sucking his wheel to the finish line", and then dropped way back into the main field where I belonged. My brain's kinda fuzzy on the details, but one or the other happened for sure.

As I took my place at the very back of the lead group I couldn't help but notice that out of the top twenty or so riders about half of them were single speeders. Let me say that again... going up the first climb half of the top of the field were single speeders. Not only was I floored at the level of competition in the SS class, I was also struggling to stay at the back of the action. Getting a top five here was going to truly be a bit of a struggle for a hack of my caliber.

On the way to the top of the hour long climb I made two valiant passes, one on Elk when he stopped to tighten his water bottle cage and another on Russel Henderson who was digging in his saddle bag for a breath mint (I think). I was now sitting pretty in the single speed class (eight place) with only ninety miles to go. Sweet.

Not too long after the hour mark my iPod (which accidentally got switched on in my gear bag) lost power. I was now looking at eight or more hours of non musically enhanced riding. Meh. I've been forced (by silly mandated rules) to ride without it before, so no biggie there, but I took a bit of a hit on the race morale.

I had blown off the first aid station, and when I rolled into the second one I noticed there was no food available. All I saw were drop bags and beverages of the usual variety. Hmmmmm... my plan was to live off the land, and it was looking like the land was barren. Since I had only put about eight emergency gels out there in my drop bags I was going to get more than a little hungry if this teme continued. I had "assumed" there would be food at the aid stations as there was in previous years, and my assumption was certainly going to leave me hanging if things didn't change.

After the Bull Mountain loop, and the kidney pain that is associated with a run down the rocky/rooty/bumpy Bear Hare trail, I found myself catching Shane on his pink Carver 69'er. He said his rear tire flatted on the descent, and I wanted to verbalize the thought that his inferior small rear wheel was to blame. Not wanting to tempt the fates that balance my karmic world I thought better of it and kept my mockery to myself. I passed Shane, and as I pulled into aid station three I saw that there was still no outside food support, so I grabbed all of my gels from my drop bag and decided to just ration them out accordingly.

Somewhere before this point of the story I passed another single speeder on a Fisher Superfly. I don't remember where it happened, but I figured that I should catch everybody up to speed since I was pretty sure I was in sixth place as I approached the fourth aid station. At the fourth aid station there was food galore, so I stuffed my pockets like a starved inmate with as much food as I thought I would need for sixty miles, and rolled off feeling a bit better about my "live off the land" strategy. With one more stretch to go before the end of the first fifty mile lap it was now time to see it I could make the sub nine hour time a reality.

I rolled into the start/finish area at the 4:24 mark, which meant I would have to do the second lap no more than twelve minutes slower than the first. I was quite doubtful that I could pull that off, but my secondary goal came right to the front of my mind. One of the neat things about the Fool's Gold is that the rider who finishes the race closest to 4:20pm gets a case of Sweetwater 420 Pale Ale. I started doing the math in my head, did it wrong a couple of times, but eventually figured out that I needed to do the next lap in 4hr 56 min to bring home the beer. Could I add 32 minutes to my next fifty miles? Sure, no problem.

The next time up the terribly long climb to aid station one I found myself right on schedule for the beer. I added ten more minutes to the climb knowing that the next section to aid station two was mostly downhill, and I wasn't planning on adding any time while the speed was being given out for free. Right on schedule I rolled into aid two (now with food!!), grabbed three cookies, and headed out onto the heinous Bull Mountain loop.

Something happened out there on Bull Mountain. I would say that I bonked, but I felt more like I lost touch with reality. Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" kept playing over and over in my head when I thought about the beer, but I felt as if my brain and body were no longer communicating with each other. I considered laying down or waiting for another rider (to come along and give me a hug) since I hadn't seen one for the last 30 or so miles, but I kept moving. I thought about eating, but the terrain was so rough that eating meant stopping, which at the time seemed stupid. I forged ahead going deeper into the bonk cloud.

After about 30-40 minutes I decided I had to eat something. I remembered the caffeinated gel product I had in my right jersey pocket. I stopped, pulled it out, and squeezed the contents into my mouth. Fifteen minutes later I started feeling like a champ (a thoroughly beat down champ, but a champ none the less). I would tell you what brand and flavor of gel I ingested, but since I DON"T have a nutrition sponsor there will be no credit given where it is due. Suffice to say, some very main stream nutritional supplement company could be bragging up on the fact that they kept me in the hunt for free beer and a possible sixth place, but the chance for a proper endorsement has escaped their grasps.

Once I escaped the Bull Mountain loop I figured my hopes of winning the free beer were dashed, but I would keep trying to make up for the losses incurred on Bull Mountain. I realized as a full grown adult with a decent income I could easily purchase beer, but I was going after the principal of winning the beer more than the actual beer itself. I thought about all the races I've ever been in where money was at stake or perhaps a place on the podium, but I wasn't motivated enough to give it that little something-something to hold my head up and work to keep it. Not this time.

When I rolled into the final aid station I asked how far it was to the finish. "Twelve miles" the volunteer said. Assuming that to be the actual distance I quickly figured out I had to cover the distance in less than 1hr 5min. Ouch. I had to average just under 12MPH over twelve miles of gravel, double track, and singletrack after I'd already covered 88 miles with one severe bonking episode? Doable? I dunno.

I gave it all I could and gave up hope more than a jillion times. As I approached the final singletrack to the finish I was already past the 4:20pm mark, and I could see a fifty mile race competitor just ahead. Thinking that there was still a chance that I could be closest to 4:20 I gunned it to get past him. As one could imagine the fifty miler who had just been out on the course for nine hours didn't respond to my attack, and I rolled across the line at 4:27. The other person closest to the 4:20pm time had finished at 4:12, so I pulled off the "big win" by only one minute. Sweet... I mean Sweetwater.

Getting close to the finish smelling beer and burnt fifty milers.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that if I can't get on the podium I like to get sixth place. Well, no podium this go around, but I'll "settle" for a case of beer and my lucky place.

That guy over at SWOBO's HTATBL would love me today. Number 66 in 6th place, a certain sign of the apocolypse.

All race images are from Mark Duffus


Namrita O'Dea said...

nice. i didn't know you won the 420! 4+2+0=6, too. weird.

bentcrank said...

Sweet!! 420 is good stuff!

Peter Keiller said...

i'm very happy to see you once again striving for numeric aesthetics and not podium placements.

very impressive dicky. so much better then that origami debacle were you won.

Gerry and Andy said...

It was certainly good fun, but I never did receive the sacrifice... maybe it is being held until the completion of Shenandoah. See you there!

drew said...

Ok, enough about you... We want to know how the pflug did.

Tim said...

Don't forget to record the repacking of bikes with kittens. If you run short contact the Kitten Factory for more.