Monday, July 11

2011 Tour de Burg: In the beginning, there was darkness

I had a plan. It was not a great plan, not close to a good plan, but just a plan. I wanted to try to run a 32X17 for the entire Tour de Burg. The first stage was a prologue on the backside of the Massanutten Ski Resort. I felt good at the bottom, but as I made my way up the big climb I realized that pushing a 32X17 up the side of a mountain was much more than just mind over matter. It was my lower back VS gravity, and gravity won. I still managed to pull out some kinda mid-pack finish, and that's all I ever expect at the TdB.

Day one: semi-fail

photo cred: Sue Haywood

Me mocking Tour de Burg veteran Buck and his large pack/lack of proper kit

The first stage was a 50 mile rock fest at Trout Pond- Big Schloss. I rode something similar to this last year on a different day, so I had a decent idea what I was in for. With my 32X20 freshly mounted up, I felt like I was in for a good day. As if to reaffirm my condition I managed to sneak into third position on the first KOM, thus getting my token points for the week out of the way.

Along the ridge, I sat happily in the mid-pack zone. Once we started descending off the ridge, I could feel my front tire (a trusty 2.35 Rampage) going soft on me. I pulled over, pulled out my Mountain Pipe, and tried to add a little air to see if it would seal up. Fail. Try again. Fail. I tried some CO2 to get a bigger blast of air, so I could find the leak and work the Stan's juice in. Fail. I finally broke down and threw my tube in and hit it with the remaining CO2.

It wasn't long before the tube started feeling soft again and then with a "clunk," it was flat. Earlier I had been mocking Harlan for carrying four tubes when he was mocking me for only carrying one.

"I only ever needed one tube at the Tour, so I should be fine."

I was not fine.

I took off my front wheel and considered my options. Maybe I'd be able to use my Mountain Pipe to find the hole, and hopefully I could patch the Stan's juice covered tube. Before I had to go with that option, Harlan rode by. He had 2-3 flats earlier, putting him behind me, and fortunately for me he still had one 29" tube in his pack (he was riding a 26" wheeled bike). I went back to fixing my shit, but in the process, lost my shit.

I was working in the hot sun and was noticeably uncomfortable. I moved all my shit over to the shade piece by piece, but I could not find my 5mm allen key (my skewers are bolt-on). Meh. Deal with it later. Without any CO2 I was forced to use my pump, but I discovered something I had never noticed before. The Mountain Pipe works best when you screw a cartridge into the minuscule handle giving you something to grab. I assumed the 25gram cartridge would fit. Wrong. It did not. I had to pump the tire up grabbing the little handle'esque nub in my fingers which was exhausting. Pump a little, rest, repeat. People would ride up to me and ask, "You got everything?"


"Are you O.K?"


Eventually I got the wheel up to marshmallow pressure and gave up. I borrowed another rider's mini-tool, but as soon as I went to use it, I saw my 5mm sitting amongst the sticks and leaves.


I rolled carefully into the finish VERY close to DFL, but not quite. I had dug a decent hole for myself sitting up in the woods doing something close to nothing for much longer than necessary.

I borrowed a floor pump at the lunch break, headed out into the second timed section with two borrowed tubes and an empty 16 gram CO2 for a pump handle, bounced my way carefully through the second timed section on a basketball front end, and called it a day. I slid less than gracefully from mid-pack to fourth or so from last. I needed to stop looking at the results, lest I fall deeper into my sad hole.

Day two: fail

The first road stage was the 100 miler with forty+ miles of gravel. I felt like ass that morning. Maybe it was the beer I drowned my sorrows in the night before, the feeling of getting beat to death on the over pressurized front tire, or a major technical misstep in a big rock section. Who knows? I felt like a huge pile of shit on the first timed section. My hamstring was giving me all sorts of problems, and I wanted to throw my bike on the sag wagon and call it a day fifty miles in. I told the directeur about my issues, but he just said "Well, my back hurts" and walked away. I took this as a "no" and sat on the guardrail shamed into the remaining fifty+miles.

My leg hurt like hell, but I managed to force down two bottles in an hour and turn the recalcitrant muscle around a little bit. I don't know where I finished on the day, but back at the house I stretched my leg out and drank more beer.

Day three: fail

The next stage started with my kind of timed section. A 3-4 mile steep, greasy, singletrack climb followed by a descent I know rather well, Chestnut Ridge (the big descent at the SM100). I ran/walked nearly 80% of the climb in order to avoid getting on and off the bike too much which might irritate my hammie. This strategy worked out well, and I found myself riding in the company of stronger riders than I was used to. On the descent I even managed to come close to the back wheel of pro-roadie Nick Waite (who had a mechanical earlier), and I chased him most of the way down the mountain finally finishing above mid-pack, regaining what little self respect I might have ever had for myself.

I celebrated with some lunch time beer, which caught up with me during the pleasure pace to the next timed section. The result was me taking a nap in the trail (captured by Harlan Price).

Since the second timed section of the day is part of something I'm writing for Dirt Rag, let me just say it involved the following:

Rain... chubby rain
Waiting in the woods for following riders to reaffirm my route choice
Sue Haywood's mad skills
Brake pad concerns
Pushing another rider back to the finish
Waiting for Zac to find his way back to the finish after getting way off course

Day four: not fail

I'll get to the final two action packed days tomorrow.


AdamB said...

TdB report = Not Fail

wv = opirtsoc

dude said...

yo, the contrast stitching on your chamois accentuates your package, respect