Tuesday, July 13

Tour de Burg: Day 5 & 6

After the queen mountain bike stage ended I was standing in the parking lot about to jump in a car and head back to town with Peter and Reuben. I was seconds away from loading up when Carp rolled into the lot requesting some company on the ride back to town. As soon as I hopped in he remembered he needed to mark the course for the next day's road stage "on the way home". We spent some time driving around slightly lost, ate tortilla chips, found a map, sprayed some arrows, and talked about gravel, bikes, and the meaning of life. As we drove down a long stretch of paved road towards the finish Carp made sure to tell me to not get left alone out there. It would not be a good place to be alone. We got back late, grubbed on some pasta, and went to bed.

The next day as we rolled outta town we were informed that the first climb on the timed stage would be a KOM. When the pace picked up as the race began I found myself in the "B group" rolling some distance behind the "A group" with one lone rider making a go at the climb on the long approach far ahead. Even though he was far away I could still make out who the rider was, and when I realized it was none other than Reuben Kline I felt inspired to do something stupid. I shifted up and attacked with everything I had. I closed the gap down on the "A group", took a deep breath, and attacked again. I shot off the front of the group and towards the climb looking like one of those guys on the VS Network. I was feeling incredible... for all of twenty seconds. That was when I realized that those guys on TV have something to back up their attacks called "power", and I found myself strung out halfway between the pack and Reuben. At least the learning experience didn't last long. As soon as the climb pitched up I was chewed up and spit out the back of the "A group" with a few wisecracks from the riders who knew my attack was doomed to fail from the start. Oh well, anything worth doing is worth doing while being mocked by your peers.

I dropped back through the pack and was prepared myself to suffer alone. Eventually a group came by with Peter, Buck, Sue George, and Misty. They encouraged me to hop on, and against my better judgment I did. The turns at the front were going somewhere in the neighborhood of 25-30MPH for the most part as we cruised down the flat'esque road. Eventually my ADD got the best of me, and I requested to be dropped off the back. Focusing for that long just to avoid effort and go fast was not a good trade in my opinion and they eventually let me go quietly. Little did I know we were less than two miles from the finish... meh.

The second timed stage was the one I helped Carp mark the night before. We started up a nasty gravel climb that was soooo steep I was spinning out my 28mm tires even in my 36X26 gear. It was nasty, fucked, and hard. Once we got to the top I settled into an "out there by myself all day" pace, and I watched as riders went by me in groups and ones. Down the gravel descent I kept my speed in check, was passed by a few riders, and caught a few others who were slightly less bold than myself.

Then I flatted... hard, like a hippopotamus jumps out of a lake. One of my main goals was to get through the TdB without a flat and I failed. It is actually rare for a rider to make it all six days without a flat, and I was sooooo close. At least I had my shit together.

I was looking forward to a lazy repair, but it seemed like it was over before it started. I was back on the road and headed to the place where I was told to not be alone in that exact non-suggested manner, alone. It was hot, I was tired, the scenery sublime. I wished I hadn't seen what I saw the night before as I knew it was a long, lonely drag ahead. I suffered quietly as the cows watched me ride past their large dining hall/toilets, and towards the end of the hellaciously hot paved section I caught Sue George and she hopped on my wheel. When we hit the final gravel section I left her behind looking anxiously for the comfort of sandwiches and beer.

I would like to say the day's riding was over at that point but after we got back into town we had a couple hours of down time before the 4 mile time trial at Hillandale Park. I remember liking this stage two years ago (when it came earlier in the week), but I was feeling quite burnt at this point. I mounted up the GoPro HD camera to shoot some video, and decided I would make the most of it. I went out kinda hard and took some of the more challenging lines over the rock piles. When I came to a log pile option VS a go-around I took the go-around not knowing if the log pile had a backside. As I tried to squeeze into the go-around I hit a tree with my right shoulder and went down on my freshly heeled from the TSE left knee. After dusting myself off and checking things over the wind was outta my sails and I was as deflated as a week old birthday balloon. The tissue paper of flesh I had recently grown was dangling off my knee and a deep down throbbing kicked in. I came in with a pretty shitty time and even worse, some pretty shitty video since the camera slipped at the start and the angle sucked the whole time. Meh...

One more day to go.

The final day would be the similar to the one I experienced back in 2008. Most of the climbing would be done at a parade pace, and most of the racing would be down and nasty. Before the race started I smeared my knee with A&D Ointment to moisten the scab which had healed flat as a board while I was sleeping. Getting my knee bending again was an exercise in patience, but it didn't matter since I was feeling thoroughly toasted, so I just rode the race portions at a leisurely pace. I put the MOOTS Death Stick into the rotation for shits and giggles and found myself giggling and shitting as the squishy fork made for a fast but not quite what I'm used to kinda ride. I finished the ride, packed up my shit, said my goodbyes, and hit the road for Charlotte.

photo cred: Mike Boyes

My brain is fried and the disconnect of time since the TdB has clogged my mind. I swear this year's TdB was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The heat, the long distances, the extra work around the house helping out, the terrain, my unrecovered condition from the TSE... I swore to myself as I drove off that I'd take another year off before I came back again. Yesterday I found myself thinking about next year. I'm fucked.

Harrisonburg is just that awesome. The race is just that incredible. This year I was the only one riding a single speed on all the MTB stages. This made me a bit more lonely than usual on the trails, but it was peaceful out there... when I wasn't dodging billions of rocks or skidding down the side of a mountain. I don't wanna go back, but I'm afraid I will. Something's wrong with me.

Viva Le Tour!!!!!!!


Big Bikes said...

"Then I flatted... hard, like a hippopotamus jumps out of a lake."

I will be scratching my head all day over that one. Or because of the lice.
But it will be hard to discern which.


Leyonce said...

Good read.
Puzzling Team Dicky.