Sunday, April 4

2010 Six Hours of Warrior Creek race report

Yeah, I normally wait till Monday, but whatever.

Standing next to Andy Applegate at the start line I nosed my way into a conversation about how many laps we'd be doing on the 11.5 mile course before the cut-off mark five and a half hours after the start. The general consensus was that only the fasty fast guys would make it back in time to head out for a sixth lap, so I was relieved that we slightly slower than the immortals would only be going @ 57.5 miles. Not only had my recent "training plans" been thwarted I had been ignoring my hydration needs all week. What with the blown up computer, hail damaged cars, lightning affected TV tuner, running toiletS, clogged sink faucet, and all the regular amusements of life going on over the last week when I was given a choice between water or beer after work I found myself choosing the latter and avoiding the former.

At the start I did my best to stay towards the front of the 300+ rider field so I wouldn't get clogged in the singletrack like last year. My efforts were rewarded, and I found myself in good company. The first part of the course is all about speed with its banked turns and fast downhills, so it was nice to not have to scrub speed to avoid the wheel in front of me. By the time we hit the back half, the portion of the course with more significant pitchy climbs, I could feel cramps coming on in both calves. Not only had I not drank enough water all week I decided to run the same gear I did last year (32X18) even though I told myself it was too big the last time. Don't ask.... I can't defend that decision with any logic whatsoever.

When I pulled into my pit (a cooler and a sack with gels and mustard) after the first lap Stabby was there with a water bottle and a gel. I wasn't expecting any help since I thought he and Eric Van Driver were going to go play on the other trails in the area while I raced, so we fumbled a hand-off and he dug into my sack to retrieve my much needed by now mustard pack. It would be another mile before I could get to a point on the course where I could eat the mustard, so I decided to back off the pace until I could get it in my system.

About fifteen minutes later a Faster Moustache rider passed me, and I realized I was feeling better, but my music was all wrong for the moment. Listening to Brain Damage by Pink Floyd through the fast stuff made absolutely no sense, so I sent my iPod to the next song and got Black Betty. Suddenly the world was a better place, and I caught back up to the FM rider and eventually passed him. From that point on I was able to stand on it and catch more and more riders ahead.

Coming into my pits for a second time I grabbed another mustard and a fresh bottle. I had considered putting some air in my back tire since it was feeling a bit squirmy in the banked turns, but thought better of it since I didn't want to waste any time. This would end up impacting my race, but not for the reasons you would think. As I rode past Mike Stanley from Niner he let me know I was in second place. As I was leaving the pits though I could see third place rider Eric Hagerty coming in and looking quite fine and dandy. Shit, not bad for feeling like ass, but my second place was currently in a bit of peril. Not terrible peril, but just a little bit of peril.

I shot the second pack of mustard on the long double track climb, and decided to give 'er on the fast section coming up shortly. Within a few minutes I came up on two riders I was about to lap, the odd thing though was that one rider was lying flat on his back as white as a ghost with the other rider kneeling over him.

"Does he need help?" I asked.

"Yeah" said the kneeling rider.

"Has anybody gone to get a medic?" I asked hesitantly.

"Only one other rider has been by and he didn't stop" he replied.

"Okay, I'll let a volunteer know" I said, and off I rode.

I knew I was only a couple minutes from a point where the trail crossed the main road. I figured I would find somebody there, not for any logical reason, but because that's just how I hoped it would turn out. When I got to the road I found a lady there with an SUV, a picnic blanket, and three young short people (children??). I asked her if she had anything to do with the race, and she said no. I told her about the medical emergency, and she said she could go get help, but obviously she had to pack up everything and the children before she could go back to the start/finish area.

"Don't worry about it" I said, and I headed down the road back to get help.

Lots of things went through my mind. Had I stopped and put air in my tire someone else woulda been the second rider to the scene. I'd never been in this position before, but I remembered reading about riders with money on the line at the Intermontane Challenge who had to make a similar decision. No matter what was racing through my mind I was still wondering if I might regret leaving the course and going for help.

You have to know something about me to me to understand where I'm coming from. My moral compass doesn't point North because that's what it wants to do. It just points North because I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if it pointed South. All the good you read about the Dillen Family doing is due in great part to the actions of The Pie. I would not bring foster pets into my house, but thanks to her humane efforts over a hundred of them have stayed with us over the years. She always seeks out the right thing to do to make the world a better place, while I will pick up an errant pile of feces more or less because it's there and it would be wrong to leave them there for someone else to clean up.

When I got to the medics they didn't really know anything about the trail or where to locate the rider, so I went to the timing tent and asked for a BMCC club member. Jason Bumgarner (the race director) came forward and went with the medics back down the road while I turned around and went back to the course wondering what to do now. Do I quit? Do I try to make up for the lost time and extra mileage? Do I just ride around and have fun? There was no right or wrong answer.

The rest of the lap I was just lost in thought. I wondered how that guy was doing. I saw him limping out to the main road when I got back to the road crossing to get back on the course. He looked a lot better, and I wondered if I did the right thing. I mean I know it was the right thing, but was it necessary? Errr..... I turned up my iPod and got lost in the ride.

The rest of the lap flew by, the fourth lap was pleasant, and on the fifth lap I just decided to get it over with as fast as possible. A lot of the riders I knew hadn't seen me leave the course so they thought I was lapping them as I went by. Sometimes I tried to explain what was going on, and sometimes I would just say "hey" and keep going. When I caught up to my local nemesis Ross Dowswell I rode with him for a bit, and when I caught up to my 2009 ORAMM antagonist Geoffrey Bergmark (on gears this day) with Ross in tow Geoffrey let me know that the second place rider was just up the trail by less than a minute. Hoping that Ross didn't hear this info I gassed it. I caught up to the rider in question, held his wheel till I caught my breath, and made my move. A few minutes later he was nowhere to be seen, and the finish line was less than three miles away.

When I crossed the line I was stoked that I might have caught my way back up to second place after the day I'd had (you never know if the information you get on the trail is correct). I asked the people standing around the finish line if the race was over, and I heard a resounding "NO". Sadly I was informed that I finished with more than five minutes to spare if I wanted to go out for a sixth lap. Mike Stanley offered to check the results to see if it would matter if I went back out, but the printed results were so old and I had advanced quite a few places over the last few laps, so it was really hard to tell if I was in second, sixth, or somewhere in between. While I was standing around scratching my ass Ross came through headed out for his sixth lap. A wave of guilt came behind him, and I found myself washed up in it and headed out for six.

I really didn't want to be out there. I didn't eat on the fifth lap, and I had only drank about a quarter of a bottle. I knew I'd be paying for that on an unexpected sixth lap, and chasing Ross was going to be difficult due to the fact that I'd have to climb outta the hole I just dug for myself. I wasn't sure if I was chasing a spot on the podium or something a few spots away. Conflicted and tired I could see the cars in the parking lot through the woods, so I decided to bushwhack my way back to happiness.

The race got more interesting once I left it in an active manner. As the results were updated I found out I had indeed worked my way back up to second place, the place I relinquished when Ross went out for a sixth lap and I bailed. Dropping back to third I found out that the rider behind me had finished his fifth lap before the cutoff, so if he had gone back out I was going to be pushed off the podium for lack of trying. My pride hurt a little on that one, but less than an hour later when I saw Ross cross the line AHEAD of the rider who was in first (Eric Hagerty) at the start of the sixth lap my pride started to throb in pain like a thumb hit with an errant hammer. Meh... good on you Ross. You know I like to see you win. You are always one of the most gracious and humble guys to stand on the podium.

Well that certain rider behind me thought better of going out for a sixth lap as well, so I held onto my third place finish. I have never felt more weird or semi-indifferent about the results of a race. I was happy to get third after all I had been through, pissed that I didn't have a watch so I coulda known the race was going six laps, befuddled about my decision to bail on the last lap... you name it. Boone Brewing Company kindly threw a case of beer my way for good sportmanship, and I'm hoping I can get it all drank before it affects my hydration efforts for the next race... whatever that is.

As I was leaving the awards I walked past the guy who had been injured on the course. He let me know that he was able to recover and go out for another lap, but he did thank me for getting help. Odd that I happened to walk right past him at the last minute, but I was glad to hear he was all right when it was all said and done.

More about the Six Hours of Warrior Creek Tuesday and every day after that till I run outta stuff to talk about.


Stubbie said...

Studies on olympic athletes prove that getting third place is better on your psyche than getting second. Drink up.

EndlessBikeCo. said...

I was impressed when I came into the pit between laps and saw you talking to Jason about an injured rider. At first I couldn't actually figure out what you were doing, but I knew you were helping someone. Sorry he didn't thank you. And by the way... You walked right past me and didn't even say hello. Bummer.

dicky said...

No, he thanked me.

BTW: I cheered the loudest when you were called to the podium... seriously. You know I love you.

TheMutt said...

This is one of your best posts ever.

Morgan said...

Good job, Rich.

Luis G. said...

Well done man, you did the right thing for sure...

allan said...

Great job. You definitely did the right thing.

Whatever makes your moral compass point north..the end result is that it does point north and not south. Pretty much all that matters.

EndlessBikeCo. said...

Somehow I read that wrong. I'm glad he was grateful to you and told you. Both of those actions make me feel better for the whole of humanity. Good work Rich. Look forward to seeing you and hopefully getting to chat with you at PMBAR.

dicky said...

I'll see if my people can have me be a little more available.

EndlessBikeCo. said...

I'll have my people call your people.

mandy said...

what they said. you obviously did the right thing and good job on the race thing too.

Anonymous said...

I've been thinking...maybe the competition hired a guy, Tonya Harding style, and he couldn't catch you so he had to get to you indirectly through that poor rider you helped. You're morality is so predictable!


Mike said...

Wow, good story.

Anonymous said...

Great story, Dicky. Rest assured that you did the right thing. I had to make that decision a few years ago, and I've slept well because of it each night since. The Pie is good for you (and the world).

Anonymous said...

Thank you, that guy you helped was my son and that was his first race. God bless you.

Chris, Brigette and Norah Dusack said...

Great job Rich, really enjoyed this report, I hope that injured (or whatever he was) rider gets to read this write up.

I saw a blurb from you in the Mountain Biking magazine (the supplement to Bicycling magazine.) I read it aloud to my husband in the car, we were both excited to see something from you in there, especially about the Transylvania Race as Chris went to Penn State and he and I visited there to ride a few times as well. GOOD LUCK on that ride, we are really looking forward to that report and hope you get to take some time off to party w the college kids too!

Cheers, Brigette Dusack (frnchgrl26 on SORBA)

George said...

So did you beat Arleigh or what?