Monday, May 17

Uwharrie Rumble Race Report

When I pulled into the parking lot at 6:37 AM on Saturday I thought that maybe I got the date wrong. Registration started at 6:30AM, and there was only one other car in the lot. I collected my stuff together and rolled down the road to the start finish area.

I was there on the right day, but what I feared would happen did happen. There is a glut of mountain bike events in NC in the month of May; PMBAR, Grind on the Greenway, The Catawba Riverfront Classic, 12 Hrs of Tsali, The Burn 24 Hr Challenge... not a bad thing for racers, but definitely a tough time to introduce a new race. With the Grind just last week the large local talent pool of the usual suspects might have got their fill of racing or they might be saving something for The Burn. It was more than likely that the field for the Uwharrie Rumble 6/12 race was gonna be thinned as a result .

The SS class only had three riders. I didn't recognize any of the names, but that meant nothing. I can still remember ORAMM 2008 when an unassuming looking John Brenner finished only one minute behind me on his Karate Monkey teaching me to never discount anyone (especially since he stomped me less than a month later at the Fool's Gold Hundred). The only person I readily recognized was Andreas Raab from Bicycle Sport, a large man who has raced road bikes internationally and sports the legs of a race horse.

Here's Andreas putting the wood to me on a road ride a few years ago:

photo cred: Big Worm

Andreas was there with his teammate Brent to race the 12 hour duo, and they only had one other team in their class. This was shaping up to be a lonely day in the woods, especially since I left my iPod on the charger at home. Yes, I realize the irony of the situation considering my latest article in Dirt Rag concerning iPod use while racing.... anyways...

We lined up for the 8:00AM start, and with a thank you from the promoters for showing up, we were off. Andreas hammered at the front and was gone in minutes. There was a definite split amongst the field, those who were "racing" and those who were riding. I found myself spun out on the gravel road at the back of those who were "racing".

Once we got off the double track and hit the real singletrack around 3.5 miles into the 8.52 mile course I found Andreas standing over at the side of the trail working on a flat. I asked him if he needed anything, and he said "Yes, everything". So I found myself thinking about whether or not I wanted to hand over my $8 ultra lite tube, Air Chuck SL inflator, 25 gram CO2, tire levers, and 18 year old Giro chain tool all wrapped up in my Awesome Strap to this experienced racer and bike shop employee who still runs the Oliver's YesTubes system. Of course the right thing to do was to hand it over, but I couldn't help thinking about the situation I would put myself in. I had another fully prepacked Awesome Strap in my pit, but I gave Andreas my only inflator. I flashed back to the rash decision I had made earlier that morning when I decided I didn't wanna carry the extra weight of my Mountain Pipe mini-pump/inflator that was tucked up nice and tidy next to my water bottle. I may end up running the rest of the race with no chain tool and no inflator, which would be ironic since Genuine Innovations is one of my "Dick Supporters."

In a big race I'd be less worried about being without emergency supplies. There are more racers to lean on if you have to, and I may or may not be shooting for a podium. At this race the Peter Principle was in full effect. The Peter Principle states that when the number of racers is less than or equal to the number of spots on the podium you stand a fair chance at making said podium. Call me shallow, but getting one in the "W" column always feels good no matter the size of the field. Risking a shot at the top spot stung a little bit, but knowing that Andreas would do the same for me (assuming he carried stuff or hadn't lost his pump) meant that there was no other choice.

I left him there with all my stuff, and after some careful descending I got back to the pits. I strapped on my spare preloaded Awesome Strap and borrowed an inflator from Andreas's teammate Brent. From that point on I just kept my head down, watched the clock, maintained my nutritional needs, and just rode my bike. At some point I was pretty sure I was ahead of the entire field. I was pretty happy with the fact that my legs felt fresh, and even though my iPod wasn't providing a soundtrack for my ride I was able to sing to myself when I could actually breathe.

When I came through after my sixth lap I decided to check the current results. I had time for two more laps if I maintained my pace, or I could back off and just finish my seventh lap after the 1:15PM cutoff time. One SS rider had broken his headset and had to quit (I'd actually seen him walking on the trail and knew this already), and the other SS'er was laps behind me in the standings. I coulda stopped there, but I promised myself I'd go till they told me to stop to redeem myself from my stupidity at the Six Hours of Warrior Creek in April. I went out for one more lap at a relaxed'esque pace wanting to make sure that if I was gonna win I would earn it.

When I finished my seventh lap with twenty seconds still to go on the clock to go back out for an eighth lap I crossed the line in 1st place SS, 1st place solo male, and 1st place over all the six hour teams. I talked to the promoters after the race and thanked them for putting on a great event. I also asked them about the possibility of moving the date up to the month of May in 2011 since there's usually a lot less going on in the area then, and the trails in Uwharrie hold up to rain which is a lot more likely to happen in May. They were more hemmed in on the dates this year, but they said they would look into it for next year.

I only mention my conversation with the promoters for what I feel is a good reason. The trails in Uwharrie are quite different than you normally see at a typical Southeast 6/12 hour event. There are extended climbs and long, kidney rattling descents that you just don't find in the average municipal park setting. The race has sooooo much potential, but more people are going to have to show up to keep it alive. Like the Six Hours of Warrior Creek (a totally different type of trail entirely) I was never bored during the race, and the course offered up a unique experience. I really hope this race thrives in 2011.

So regardless of The Peter Principle it still feels good to win something in 2010. I had a good ride, and I got to hang out with Raab after my race was over while his partner hammered out a few laps on their way to a win. Middle Ring Cycles stepped up and donated $125 gift certificates for all the winners, and I stopped by on my way home to cash in on my win. I stayed for awhile, chatted a bit, did some shopping, and headed home with my hand picked schwag.

Thanks to the Uwharrie Rumble promoters, Middle Ring Cycles, Andreas for letting me squat in the Bicycle Sport tent, and to all the other racers who decided to give this freshman race a chance.

Tomorrow there will be pics and fruit from the tree of knowledge.


Leyonce said...

Had to laugh at the iPod.
Death March T's are great.

Jeff said...

Just read your article in Dirt Rag. too funny that you left your iPod at home. Congrats on the race and the good time.

Peter Keiller said...

so i said to someone this weekend "pity Dicky couldn't be here" and after the awkward silence someone else said "who?" and I was all "awww".