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Tuesday, July 26

The Real 2011 ORAMM Race Report

I had put the rough night behind me within minutes of waking up Sunday morning. I swallowed my five remaining Honey Stinger Waffles, loaded up the car, and headed to Old Fort, NC.

The usual how-de-do's in the parking lot, and the next thing I knew it was time to line up. With 500 riders huddling together, there was no time to dally... especially not enough time to go back to the car to check my tire pressure, which I had not done yet. By the time I actually made it back to the start line I had to be the asshole who carries his bike over everybody's head to get up near the front.

Once we got going, it was the usual aggrofest to get to the climb up Old 70 towards the front of the peleton. I saw Robert Jameson go by and ended up in the mix with Zac, Shane, and a big feller on a Niner from Sycamore Cycles. Another guy joined our fray on an old blue anodized GT converted to SS with a huge 36X16 gear. We went back and forth all the way to the base of Kitsuma, with Robert, Zac, and Shane in the top three SS positions as we began the single track ascent.

I followed Shane as he valiantly rode his 32X20 up all kinds of shit. I got caught in the momentum of his awesomeness and found myself climbing stuff I knew I shouldn't be. My lower back reminded me of my limitations, and I was off and walking soon after. Somehow something happened that I can't remember, and I was ahead of Shane. Musta been a time warp up on Kitsuma.


After popping out at the bottom of the descent, I jumped out on the road with Zac up the road and in my sights. I started to make my chase using the geared rider train, but another train put a stop to that. One of the rider's in our proximity pointed out that we were fast approaching a railroad crossing that would be blocked by the train the was traveling parallel to the road we were currently on. We slowed our roll the rest of the way to the tracks.

As we rolled up to the tracks, I could see Zac waiting for the choo-choo to pass, but no Robert. Meh. Just as I reached the tracks, the train finished chugga-chugging by, and it was "race on" again. We rolled up Star Gap, and I made sure to walk up the steeper pitches as I explained to the geared riders behind me that I was not slowing them down as I did what I had to do to move forward.

At the top of Star Gap I was told I was in the top forty and four minutes back from the 1st single speeder. I bombed the descent, and when I got to the grassy road where I blew up last year, I felt like a million bucks (adjusted for inflation). I gunned it on the grades that felt good, and a few minutes later I could see Zac. Envisioning a Schleck Brother style chase, I closed the gap to him in short order. I wanted to join forces with him to chase Robert, and as I rode by I yelled "Let's get him." I put my head down and mashed angrily at the pedals. Awhile later I looked back to check on Zac, and he wasn't there. Apparently my skills at forming a chase group could use a little work.

At the bottom of the infamous Curtis Creek Road climb I came into the second aid station feeling good. I wondered if I would close the gap to Robert on the climb, but I was mostly looking for carrots up the road. I took the time to top off my half empty bottle at the spring on the climb, and dug deep all the way to the top. I would stand until it hurt, and then sit down until that hurt, and then stand... for somewhere close to an hour.

I went over the top without catching Robert. Every year that I have won, I was able to reel in the lead by now, so I wasn't sure what to do. I descended off the Parkway, solo'ed the flats, and started up the climb back to the Parkway in a light rain. Although I had written off any chance of seeing Robert again, there he was up ahead. I closed the gap slowly, got past him, put in a little effort, and looked back. He was still there.

I knew that being close to him meant that I was doing pretty well, but there was a downside to my familiarity. Robert has performed brilliantly in the past at ORAMM... on a 26" rigid SS with V-brakes. He was now on a big boy bike with a shock and disc brakes. Heartbreak loomed in the distance... literally and figuratively.

I left Robert behind at the 4th aid station, and I was able to put some time on him on the short pavement climb. When I got to the hike-a-bike before the Heartbreak descent, I pulled to the side to let the King of Pisgah (Wes Dickson) go by with a small posse of squishy riders and as Robert approached the trail, I had a talk with him.

"Are you fast on the downhills?"

"Yeah, I guess," he replied.

"Well, I'm not gonna slow you down by getting in your way, and if you beat me, I won't feel like I have to come back next year to defend, so don't fuck up."

And like that, he was gone.

On the way down I almost lost a full bottle, caught it, and almost died in the chunder. Later, I lost the bottle on the trail, went back, retrieved it, poured it out, and continued on. I passed two riders on the way down, but before I could get it over with, I lost my full bottle and had to go back to get it. Cage triple fail.

On the final climb to the second Kitsuma loop, I saw a rider approaching behind me fast. Unbelievably fast. When he caught me, I saw that it was Thomas Turner. He had a rough go with some sidewall tears and inflation issues and was just looking to finish. I asked him if he thought we had more than forty minutes to go since I was hoping to beat my PR. He said "Sure," before I realized asking him for that information was like asking Donald Trump if he thought a McLaren MP4-12C was an affordable car. We did not share the same frame of reference, and that was apparent as he rode away from me up the climb.

One more trip down Kitsuma in another drizzle shower and then the long drag back into town with my computer on anything but "timer mode." I gave it everything I had knowing that my PR time was getting close, and I crossed the line at 5:38:36, almost two minutes faster than my 2007 time, second place single speed, and 18th overall.


I did manage to come in first place in the "Rigid and wearing a sleeveless cotton midriff shirt" category.

Nobody was counting.

11 comments:

AdamB said...

Ahh, first loser... JK
I wonder if a squishy fork would help you hang on to your bottles (and the lead) on Heartbreak.

wv = decoveli

dicky said...

One answer... yes.

Came down HB with Eric Wever a few months ago with a 120mm fork on the Misfit. Smoking fast.

That said, I woulda had to climb with the extra weight, so who knows?

bentcrank said...

Oh, so you had to be THAT guy. No body likes THAT guy.

mr rogers said...

Someone told me a long time ago, if you alternate which bottle you drink out of, its less likely to toss one and if you do you will still have some fluid left. It seems to work. Sometimes they just go tho.

Shane S. said...

Nice Job Dickster! I would have thought your time would have been further up in the overall. Lots of Pr's broken out there from what I heard. Wish I could have hung on in the beginning. It would have been a fun battle. If you ride up there again and see two Pisgah Works wrist bands on the side of the trail for your health safety PLEASE DO NOT touch them!

John said...

Yeah man! Good race. Good write up. Great pants.

Big climbs and nasty DH... I want to do this race next year.

Anonymous said...

looks like you have your ejected bottles in your pants.

Karen said...

(and for the third pants comment in a row...)
Did you borrow those from Selene, along with the cowboy hat?

Chris, Brigette and Norah Dusack said...

Did you photoshop that photo or are you really wearing knickers/capri's?

I think I saw you in the beginning of this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOTMvgMjXIc&feature=player_embedded trying to pass people.

Nice job out there, no amazing job! Thanks for sharing, great blog.

Cheers.
Lady Dusack

dougyfresh said...

good job for a person 4 apples tall.

Andrea said...

That's quite the moose knuckle you're sporting.