Tuesday, July 27

Picking up where I left off, ORAMM Race Report Part 2

So last you knew I just popped up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and filled up my bottles at the third aid station. with fellow single speeder Kelly Klett leaving me to make his way on his own.

This was not my normal ORAMM experience. Normally I climb up Curtis Creek Road looking for carrots ahead of me to swallow whole. If I see that they are standing up too much I assume they are single speeders, so I charge ahead, close the gap, slow down when I get close, make my breathing as normal as possible, ride behind or next to them, and then after they realize I'm there I go all 2009 Contador on them.

Then when I get over the top of the Parkway I hang it all out on the following gravel descent to make sure they never see me again. None of this happened Sunday as planned.

On the descent I took it pretty easy. No two wheel drift in the corners, no reckless abandon, and no looking over my shoulder. When I got to the bottom I sat up and took it easy on the flat section, and when I started climbing back up to the Parkway I looked for someone to keep me company. I could see Charlotte local Eric Hagerty coming from behind, so I held up and waited for him. We chatted for awhile, caught another rider, I continued talking, looked around, and Eric was gone off the back. Making the most of the situation I talked to this guy instead all the way up to aid station four.

I had shared with my new friend that I was going to eat the shit outta something at the aid station. I was hoping for pizza or wedding cake, but I had no such luck. I pulled over and searched the tent, but the closest thing to pizza was Doritos (they're both triangle shaped). I grabbed a Coke and stood next to the Doritos for awhile. I watched as Eric Hagerty came and went, as well as Harvey Minton, fellow single speeder Mike Tiano, and a few others went by. Whatever. I wasn't leaving my Coke unfinished, and I had yet to sample the cookies, so there was no chasing to be done... not yet.

Once I downed my Coke and expressed my love for the volunteers I hit the 1.1 mile climb up the Parkway. I passed Harvey and Mike pretty quickly, and hit the hike-a-bike to Heartbreak with a bit of enthusiasm. It's hard to not be excited about one of the best descents in all of Pisgah. I bombed it for all I was worth, popped out at the bottom, and rode on past aid station five since I never had a chance to drink anything in my bottles since aid station four.

On the climb up Mill Creek Road I caught sight of Kelly Klett again. I was noticing him noticing me, and he musta thought I had an agenda as he visibly jumped into action. I was having none of this, but at least it was fun to see him jump every time there was a line of sight between the two of us in a switchback corner or over a long straight away.

Once I got to the bottom of Kitsuma it was hard to not be slightly crushed emotionally. It was around the 5hr 50min mark, my finishing time from two years ago. I knew Will Black had already won, and I still had close to ten miles to go with a lot of pushing up Kitsuma's menacingly hot switchbacks. Some very nice people in the parking lot gave me some cold water and then told me that there were three single speeders all just about three minutes ahead. "That's nice" I thought to myself thanking them for the water and pointless information.

Up Kitsuma, down Kitsuma, and an effortless ride back into town. Not the usual panic spin back to the finish while looking over my shoulder the whole way that I'm used to from the past few years. I crossed the finish line in 6:43:37, fifty two minutes slower than my fastest time in 2008 (5:51:05), no where near my 5:40 fantasy football league dreams.

What else is worth mentioning? Will Black won the SS class and beat my course record with an awesome 5:44:19 (very fast considering the high 90°heat). He also outclassed me in the Best Overall Performance of a Single Speed in a Supporting Role with a 7th place overall (I was 9th in 2007). Also kudos to second place SS finisher Robert Jameson for finishing in 6:16:17 on a rigid bike with V-BRAKES!! Echhh. I should also mention third place rider Greg Leister (who kept me company on the push up to Star Gap) did a great job since he only wanted to better his 8 hour time, and he did so by finishing in 6:20:46.

The only goal I managed to accomplish was beating Harvey Minton, thus allowing me to cross him off my list. That, and by unsuccessfully defending my ORAMM title, I can now walk away from ORAMM happy and defeated.

Congrats to Eric Hagerty and Kelly Klett for rounding out the all NC podium. Also big ups to the 275 people (out of 400) that beat the heat, the lightning storms, the injuries, the hardships... whatever to finish this ultra hard edition of ORAMM.

There is some fallout from the race that is yet to be discussed. I'll get to that tomorrow.


Shane S said...

First time at ORAMM. I had about the same melt down as you, but it was after Curtis. I think I was in second until then. It felt like my soul was beaten with sledge hammer. I've never been off the bike so much near the end of a race besides Fools Gold. Conditions were brutal! Good luck at Breck!

Billy Fehr said...

This may be your finest work to date.

drew said...

Curtis Creek rd. hates my knees. i hate i finally did ORAMM because now, i am already thinking of a million things im going to do different(better) next year.