Monday, July 12

Tour de Burg: Day 1-4

All right, Tour de Burg race report in three, two, one....

I headed up to Harrisonburg, VA with a plan; get in a lot of training miles for the upcoming ORAMM, have a good time, maybe give 'er a little on the gravel climb road bike stage up Reddish Knob, and definitely stay away from beer and keep my weight under control (thinking about the 10,000 feet of climbing at ORAMM). Well, the plan went out the window when Buck showed up on Carp's porch with two beers in his hands Friday afternoon minutes after my arrival. A plan can only get you so far....

After I settled into the basement at race headquarters I prepared my gear for the prologue at Massanutten Resort. When I came up from my dark dwelling I found that the train had already left, and I was the only one not en route to the start. I tossed my shit in the car, drove where the Englishman on my Garmin told me to, and watched nervously as my reserve tank light came on in my Dirty Little Box. I rolled into the parking lot sweaty and nervous, but ready to do battle.

The women started first including none other than Harrisonburg celebrity Sue Haywood. After the women the TdB regulars took the course, and then us occasional attendees, followed by the "one dayers". I wanted to establish my mid pack status early on, so I gave it 75% of my 85%, and I kept me ego in check rather well. When I started up a climb on a head on collision course with Sue Haywood I realized something was wrong. Sue assured me I was going the wrong way, so I turned and followed her not having a clue where I got off course. Eventually I ran into another rider (Nate Shearer) and he had no idea he went off course, so I turned around again and went back in my original direction. Yes, in hindsight it seemed stupid to not follow Sue, who would probably not be lost on her home course, but the heat of the moment, you know?

Once Nate and I ran into last year's GC winner Ryan Fawley I turned around again. He was pretty sure he knew where we went wrong, so at least I could get back onto the course in the right place. I held onto Fawley's wheel like my life depended on it, and he kindly pointed me back in the right direction at my place of misdirection. I finished out the prologue feeling a bit deflated and came off the course with the third worst time in the GC. With one of the riders trying to purposely get into the DFL jersey by standing around in the woods during the race third from last was not a great place to be.

Day two is still kinda fuzzy in my head. I remember some great trails, some hike-a-bike where I held my own, and a long hot push up a loosely graveled and exposed gravel road up Elliot's Knob. It was a fun stage, but uneventful in terms of mayhem and mishaps. I managed to push myself back up towards mid-pack in the standings, but I was starting to feel my less than recovered condition from the Trans-Sylvania Epic taking its toll.

Day three was supposed to be a road stage @ 70-80 miles followed by a MTB time trial, but due to logistical matters day three was swapped with day five. We would now be doing the monster 100 mile road stage with two major climbs over Confederate Breastworks and the heinous gravel climb up Reddish Knob (where I thought maybe I could improve on my 2008 8th place finish). I wasn't too far into the first timed stage when I realized I was already running on empty. My unrecovered status from TSE combined with the heat just took it all out of me, and I knew I was in for a long day.

At one point I found myself in the company on Cyclingnews' own Sue George (also Mandy Wisell's cousin) on the flat road approaching the climb up Confederate Breastworks. She didn't know who I was (imagine that), but she was willing to tow me along in the flats. I took my turns at the front, but when I was behind her I just kept wishing she would bury me and leave me to suffer alone. Once we hit the base of the climb I left her and started doing my skinny guy suffering thing in a solo manner,

Once I crested the gap I started the twisty descent. I was greeted in the first nasty corner by this guy:

post er visit photo cred: Nater

He had gone down in the first corner and sailed headlong into the guard rail. Seeing this I was reminded of my mortality at speeds above 40MPH, so I feathered my brakes down the climb... by "feathered" I mean I worked them like like a cider press "feathers" the juice from an apple. Sue flew by me along with Buck, but I just kept up my sissy pace down the whole descent. I gotta work on those skills at some point.

The next timed stage after the break for lunch was the nasty climb up Reddish Knob. Although I was originally stoked about this stage I was now in survival mode. I started towards the back, worked my way up a little, and then ground my 36X26 the rest of the way up the hill occasionally pushing on my SRAM Double Tap lever looking for my nonexistent 28 tooth cog. It was hot, I was beat, and the climb was just toooooo long. Normally the top of Reddish is cold and a place where you bundle up for the descent back down, but that day it was just a high elevation oven.

photo cred: Nater

We rode back to town in temps over 100°. My bike computer thing showed 101 miles when I rolled back into Carp's driveway. Owww.

I was "delighted" to find out that the fourth stage was the "queen stage". We'd be riding over 50 miles on the mountain bikes with loads of climbing and on trails described as the"northern rocky GNAR". Early on in the day while riding the parade to the first timed section Carp called out a sprint and KOM bonus at the top of the next hard climb. Although I had zero points in either jersey category I saw no reason to not make a go at it. I went off the front with a small bunch and suffered quietly trying to move up in the group. Gaps were established and I only managed to pull off a fourth place receiving my two token KOM points and my first ever TdB sprint points.

The first time section was as described; a rocky GNAR that just beat the ever loving piss outta me. It's every reason I come to the TdB. I would hardly say that I "raced" it as I just maintained a pleasant pace to get myself to the lunch stop. It's so hard to not sit back and enjoy these kinda trails for all they're worth and forget about the concept of "racing" for awhile.

After the lunch stop we went into the next parade KOM. I have to admit that when your riding a single speed it's kinda hard to slum it to the top with all the folks in their granny gear, so the best thing is to do is just gun it and relax at the top for as long as possible in the "Africa heat" (TdB leader Drew's words). This time I was able to maintain a spot behind Pro Bike's Justin P all the way to the top to nab second place KOM points and my last shot at climbing glory.

The next timed section of the day was my favorite riding of the entire week. Extremely steep downhills, rock gardens that were more like rock farms, and a descent with so many technical moves I was befuddled and beside myself trying to figure it all out. It was a fabulous day in the woods, and although I was just about beat down entirely from the effort it was easy to smile and drink a beer at the bottom when it was all said and done. I was certainly feeling the effects of being thoroughly wiped out, but nothing could taint the experience of riding down that much nasty in one day.

I'll finish this up tomorrow... I promise.


cornfed said...

Leggo "me ego"

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