Monday, June 6

Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stage 1-3

Before I get to the Trans-Sylvania Race stuff...

I realize that asking for a bunch of votes five days before the Pisgah Mountain Bike Stage Race bloggers contest would be over was as stupid as attacking on the first climb of the queen stage at the Tour de France. I played my hand early, and what would have been a magnificent attack (if done later) was countered while I was playing at TSE, too busy to get to my internet machine. So I lost. Oh well. Good luck Missouri and Cory. Thanks for all your help everybody. It was close, and if I hadn't been wiped out laying down with my feet up in the air the night the contest ended... who knows?

Now for the TSE.

Not many people knew about my plan, but I actually sorta had one. I stopped drinking beer two weeks before PMBAR, allowed myself the usual post race beverages, and went back on the wagon until TSE. That was my training plan, pure and simple.

Stage 1: 12.5 mile/1,400 ft elevation prologue

Knowing the race would not be won on the first day was comforting. Knowing that it could be lost was not so much. I suck at short distances, and this would be no different. I played it safe, rode 90% over most of the course, didn't even look my finish time, and went about my business of recovering. When I went to the awards that night Dough told me I was third (to his second and Rich Straub's first), so I had to walk back to the cabin and get all sponsory for the podium. I had already lost two minutes to Straub on such a short stage, and my goals of winning a stage, taking the overall lead, and maybe even holding it till the end looked further away just an hour into the race.

Stage 2: 42.5 mile/5,300 ft elevation Rothrock Cooper’s Gap

This is the hardest stage in most people's opinions. The rocks are just something else on this day, relentless, brutal, "ill-shaped fuck faced" as Peter put it last year. As I was climbing up this steep, rocky mess that I could remember walking up last year, I knew I was feeling better than ever. Despite the 96° heat and humidity, I was up in front of the top women (a new experience at the TSE for me) and feeling good hunting for Straub up ahead. When I reached the top of the climb he was sitting there resting, and as I rolled past, he woke up. He chased me down, made his move, and once we hit the long gravel descent he put his lbs to work (the top two women caught me here.. meh), putting another 2.5 minutes on me, bringing his GC lead to around 4.5 minutes.

Stage 2: 47 mile/5,100 ft elevation Bald Eagle Coburn

This was my worst stage last year. Although there's a significant amount of climbing, I could only remember being blown away on the flat stages. Once again, going against my single speeder's credos, I swapped to a taller gear and a way too high tire pressure. I decided that if I could hold on in the flats I would attack the later climbs of the day. With another stage that I was not going to do well at (Raystown Lake) coming the next day, it was now or never.

I stuck close to Straub in the early going, but once we hit the trails I was bouncing down the trail like a basketball. I almost lost my water bottle, but luckily I caught it when it launched out of my cage. I also dropped my CO2 and my tube (a first for me), and I probably lost most of my fillings as I pinballed my way through the rocks. Once we hit the road below, I got very sad.

I didn't think I would be able to hold on to Straub's wheel on the flats. He's a big fellow, and I was warned of his hammering prowess. Luckily Dough and Grig had fought hard to be there for me, and neither one of them would let me give up. They pulled me back into the fold and convinced me that I could stay in it. Once we got through the flat roads of Coburn I attacked on every hill hoping that Straub would be filled with fjear.

The first "attack" is documented here in this Cycling Dirt video:

Dough pulling me @ 1:20, Grig pulling me @ 4:06, and the "attack" @ 4:08, which looks kinda like this:

That "attack" did not stick, and the group with the lead women, Straub, and Grig all came back together before the first aid station where I made a brilliant, stupid, bold, uninformed, and inspired decision. I thought the aid station at 17 miles was supposed to have our drop bags. As I rolled in I saw the others head over to the water jugs, but I asked the volunteer where our drop bags were. He just pointed up the road, so that's where I went. I did not realize that he meant another 17 miles up the road.

So there I was, attacking on a climb, unknowingly trying to ride 35+ miles on two bottles in temps that were somewhere in the mid to high 90's. Fucking brilliant. It was all or nothing at that point, and knowing my friends had worked hard to make sure I didn't get dropped when I was at a low point I put everything I had into the ride. I emptied my bottles by unscrewing the lids trying to get every last drop in me, and by the time I hit the aid station at mile 35 I was feeling the effects of my stupidity.

Regardless of the fact that my body was protesting against the effort, I kept the hammer down until I hit the snowmobile trail that indicated how near I was to the finish. All I needed to do was keep it pinned for another mile or so, and then....

What's all that squishing going on in the rear?

I flatted my rear basketball pressurized tire. I couldn't imagine having the time to fix it (I picked up a fresh tube/CO2 at the drop bags), so I just rode in with my rear end squirming all over the place. I came flying in with the stage win, and then I watched the clock nervously. Straub rolled in 5min 8sec later giving me the stage win and the overall GC for the day.


I can't explain how good that felt... and how bad at the same time. I tore myself into little pieces for that "win."

Tomorrow: If you're going to fall, fall big.


AdamB said...

This is some good stuff man! Who knew that your best training plan would be to "Un-beer" your system. A simple, beer detox and you go like a missle. Great ride and meh interviews. Perfect

Rob said...

Damn solid Sir!

Sorry to see you didn't win the Popularity contest but thats the 3vil of F@ceb00k.

Anonymous said...

I love that Doug and Grig were your "teammates" and helped you with your make good bike race game.

wv = costs. Really. Like it costs lots in effort to be a leader of a stage race.

Peter Buckland said...

Having totally unravelled on day 3 in that heat, I can only marvel at making that climb up to Penn's View with two bottles. It's the girlish figure.

Anonymous said...

If you had a stupid saddle bag, you might not have lost your impotent stuff with the so-called awesome strap! Oh well...goin' all Armstrong on the flat tire to the finish? Meh, you're lookin real though!

dicky said...

I blame myself for not checking my shit after each stage. I also ended up shaking a chainring bolt loose (as in lost). I shoulda went over my bike from one end to the other every night. That place beat the shit outta everything.

Anonymous said...

Stupid saddle bag?..and like "goin all"..."fer realsy"

worlds got enough humps...meh

Greg D. said...

^^Commenting on other peoples comments? Pot, meet kettle...and get over yourself.

Wow! Nice going Dick!

Karen said...

Glad you worked in Peter's "ill-shaped fuck faced rocks" comment. That phrase was in my head all week. (Especially as his friend Tanya gained an hour and a half on me).