Monday, July 26


This race report may drag out over a few days and related posts may drag out even longer. I know you're thinking "We're used to it", but I assure you this may end up being the most irresponsibly procrastinated post ever. The results may even be up before I get to the end of the story, and I've already facebooked all my facefriends the short spoiler version (see what you're missing if you're not my facefriend).

I went into the race doing almost everything possible to achieve my goals (finish in 5:40, honorably defend the title, and beat Harvey Minton so I can cross him off my list). Leyonce and I rented a room at the Super 8 to avoid the standard 4:30AM wake up call that I've become so familiar with in my last five ORAMM's. The day before we went out and rode the Kitsuma loop, and I've never had a chance to stretch out my legs the day before ORAMM. It was awesome.

I packed all my bottles and shit into the drop bags trying to figure out which bottles I could leave behind since I wasn't going to wait until 8:00PM when the bags would make it back to the finish line.

Each bag had a piece of yellow POLICE CAUTION tape on it so I could pick it out quickly in the pile of hundreds of drop bags at each stop. This is serious business.

I trimmed my number plate down to reduce wind resistance on all the open road sections and the painful coasting trip back to Old Fort, NC.

I also requested my lucky number... awesome.

I even made sure we had a hotel with a Superstart Breakfast, because who wouldn't want a Superstart to their Superday?

It was anything but Super, but it was simple sugars that were partially thawed and all you can drink coffee.

So anyways, aside from doing two stage races in the last two months and trying to recover in between by doing as little as possible I was doing everything right.

Sunday morning I took my spot at the front of the group. The start usually rolls out of town pretty fast, and I try to stay in the top fifty or so until we get to the climb up the old, degraded paved climb up Old 70. Then I turn on the gas and try to establish a better position before we hit the singletrack. This time around I managed to stay pretty close to the front, at one point being at the very front with King of Pisgah, Wes Dickson for some chatter. Fun had, I dropped back into the top thirty or so riders and hammered my way up the climb.

Once we got to the million switchbacks up the backside of Kitsuma I was happy with where I was. I lost sight of Will Black, but the next three single speeders were all in sight. I crested the top, descended like I had just rode it yesterday, and since I knew all the lines I made short work of it.

Out on the paved road that leads to the bottom of Star Gap I caught two single speeders in a train, passed them, realized I shoulda joined their train, held up, sat in, passed the other single speeder, and got to the bottom of the even more switchbackier than Kitsuma, Star Gap. The three other single speeders got by me at the bottom as I kept my pace reasonable in the heat. I was soaked through and through ever since the climb up Old 70 at 8:15AM, and I figured the heat would play a major role in the outcome of the race. No sense in blowing up yet, and I know the nine mile climb up Curtis Creek Rd has always been place to make my move.

Up Star Gap and down to the grassy road of death I spent some time with Carey Lowery. She was riding waaaaayyy off the front of the women's field, and she made for pleasant company constantly reminding me that we're shooting for sub six hours. Once we got to the climb up the grassy road of death I would gun it on the slight rises, pass a few riders, recover, and repeat. Things were going pretty well at that point, and I thought I might be able to do what I set out to do from the start.

Then it happened.

I hit a steeper section with a bit of enthusiasm, and then I popped. There was just nothing there. Popped? That's probably not the right word. Champagne bottles "pop", and then there's happiness and glasses and hugs as champagne flows all around. I did not "pop."

There's a certain kinda firework that every man wants to see at a Fourth of July celebration. There's no bright colored palm tree explosions, no squiggly little whiny bits squirting in all directions, and no funny shapes (if you think circles are funny). No, the best ones just go up, there's a flash of white light, and then you feel and hear the loud boom that is an awesome display of the difference between the speed of light and sound. Any man will tell you that's the only fireworks they should ever use for the whole show, but I guess they have to think of the women and children and babies with sensitive ears.

So anyways, I attacked the steep pitch and I would imagine the ride behind me saw a brilliant light, then he woulda heard a loud boom, and then all that would be left in front of him was a smokey contrail to the point where he last saw me. It happened just like that.

I guess that's how it feels when your body says "No, we're not quite up to this." If I couldn't gas it like that on a steep pitch on the grassy road of death I'd never have my kick on Curtis Creek that I have come to count on. With two of the three single speeders I had hoped to beat just ahead of me, I dropped back and was passed pretty quickly by the third. Meh.

I rolled into the second aid station looking to reload with the bottles from my drop bag. The volunteers looked for my bag, I looked for my bag... nobody could find my bag. I told them it should be obvious, what with the yellow POLICE CAUTION tape on it, but nobody was finding nothing. In an amount of time that would have allowed me to fill the bottles I had on me, poured them out, filled them again, poured them out, and filled them once more we found my bag with the tape tucked up underneath it. Success. I strayed off my nutrition plan, grabbed a couple banana chunks, and rolled on to Curtis Creek Road.

On the way up I looked for riders to talk to. Neal Boyd, race promoter from Charlotte, Kelly Klett, a single speed racer who really wants to beat me, Carey Lowery (again taunting me with the six hour thing), the local Specialized rep... I had a lot of pleasant conversations. I rode past some riders who were enjoying the cold spring on the side of the road, and I realized what difference could it possible make now if I stopped to partake. I halted my forward motion twenty feet past the spring, laid down my bike, and filled my bottle with cold spring water.

While I was riding up the road with Kelly I saw race promoter Todd Branham coming down the road in his truck. I think I've seen Todd here every year as he's on his way back after checking in with the aid stations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He gave me a serious "WTF are you doing back here?" look, said something of the sort, and I just shrugged my shoulders as he drove by.

I rode with Kelly up to the third aid station, and he left me there while I suffered a similar scenario to what happened at the last aid station. Not that I cared at this point. My "race" was over hours ago. This time I filled my bottles after we looked for awhile, and the volunteer found my bag about three seconds before I finished filling my second bottle.

That's about the 35 miles mark, and a good place to stop for now. I have to go to work... yes, I slept in this morning, and it was awesome.


WB said...

That heat was brutal, looked like it effected everyone other than Thomas Turner. I would argue that it makes for an even tougher race for us fools with 1 gear.

Big Bikes said...

I know you slept in, 'cause I was up at 5:20 going "where the hell is the ORAMM post you fucker!"

BAE said...

Saw you at the Super Super8 breakfast. Nothing like half-frozen english muffins to start the day. Sounds like your ride paralleled mine, except I was probably 3 hours slower. Us slowpokes even got to come down a rainsoaked Kitsuma! Lucky....