Tuesday, July 24

The Real Deal ORAMM 2012 Race Report

On my day before pre-ride up Old 70 and down Kitsuma, I felt like I might have something special in my legs. Over a week of pedaling a geared bike in Idaho put a little more snap in the backside of my pedal stroke. This would fall into my plan nicely.

What plan?

To maintain an even pace all the way to the top of Curtis Creek Road (3 or so hours into the race) and then blow out the final two climbs of the day. In other words, blast it right before the last two big descents and put the suspension fork to good use recovering on the downs.

And then the night before happened.

When I woke up at 6:00AM, I felt like ass. Regardless of my unpleasant state, I did what I could to put Jake's house back in order, considered taking the four beer payment for a night's lodging out of his fridge, and headed out the door at 6:15AM. As soon as I got to Old Fort, I went looking for Izzy's Coffee Truck. Sixteen ounces of brown in my hand, I went back to the car and suited up in my new Club Pride kit (more about that later this week... maybe).

At the start line I had a chance to look around. Kelly Klett, fresh off a three week riding vacation out west (that apparently wasn't blog worthy), was mentally prepared to make a go of a sub-5:30 SS ride time. I saw Watts Dixon amongst the SS contenders, but didn't see any other agreSSors towards the front of the start line. You never know who's gonna show up to the party.

The neutral start was more neutral than usual. Normally I get dropped off the back long before the climb gets going up Old 70. Blame that on Bryan Fawley and Garth "Now he's fucking up everybody's day" Prosser chatting it up at the front. When we smashed into the lower gate, it was game on.

I kept Kelly in sight on the way up, marking him as a potential threat. Hitting the switchbacks on lower Kitsuma, I stuck to my plan of walking/running the steeper sections to save my lower back from the punches required to hold my line up the steep face. Pre-cramp feelings were already starting in my right calf. Odd. When the trail split for a few yards, I went high to the left to let some geared riders by.

"Go ahead," I heard from behind.

"Asshole," I thought to myself.

I looked back and it was former SS stomper Captain Morgan holding a slew of geared riders at bay knowing that I could walk/run the lower sections just as fast as them if given the chance.

Thanks Captain.

Blasting down Kitsuma, I took a few chances and made a few passes. I managed to hit the pavement with Kelly in sight. Only problem being that he was in a geared train, and I was alone. Soon enough, I got a pull from a Motor City rider, but he left me as soon as the next train pulled alongside.

Captain Morgan came up and escorted me to the first aid station. Donny Kirkwood of the Pasty White Bearded Hill People was there shouting something like, "Wes has something for you!"

A few seconds later, there was Wes, King of the Pasty White Bearded Hill People, at the last section of pavement with an open 16oz can of Ranger IPA. I circled back, tossed back a gulp, and handed it back.

"You left a lot in there!!" he shouted in his royal voice.

This was not a planned beer stop. There was racing to be done. Beggar being a chooser, but I was hoping for a 12oz unopened can of something in the 5% abv range, either at Aid Station Two or Three where I could drink them on a mellow flat road... not heaving my lungs out pushing my bike up seventy thousand switchbacks.

The push up to Star Gap was as miserable as ever, and the descent down the back was as fun as always. More pre-crampy feelings that were not responsise to mustard treatment elevated my concerns. Not cramps per say, just cramps knocking on the door. The following grassy road of death section passed by just as it always does, pass some people going up and get dropped by some geared riders near the bottom of the gradual descent to Curtis Creek Road.

I picked up my two bottles at Aid Station Two, and as I was leaving, Kelly's wonderful wife Vanessa handed me a beer. Not just any beer. A Michelob Ultra... in a bottle. Was this some kind of psychological warfare? Get my hopes up, hand me a near-beer, and force me to carry an empty bottle up a ten mile climb?

To quote the prosecutor from The Wall...

"This will not do."

Regardless of possible malicious intent, I finished the beer at least a mile before I got to the sign that said "No Alcoholic Beverages." Take that "the man", although my defense was going to be "How can you consider Michelob Ultra an alcoholic beverage?" Assuming I got a can, I was going to smash it around my seatpost (my Club Pride kit has no pockets), but Vanessa foiled me with the bottle. Fortunately I managed to talk Chris Wieczorek (who was riding up and down Curtis Creek Rd training for Leadville) to dispose of my empty, thus freeing me from the burden of seven ounces of brown glass. Take that, Vanessa! (seriously, thanks for the hand-up)

I managed to get to the top only being a passer and never a passie, but as soon as I got my bottles from Aid Station Three, I was caught by Ben "Barnyard" Barnard from Revolution Cycles, NC. Who's this guy? I dropped him on the following descent down the shitty forest road, but he regained my wheel at the bottom. My pre-crampy feelings had spread to most of my lower body, so I had very little attackiness to respond with ON THE VERY CLIMB I PLANNED ON ATTACKING.


Ben went off on the climb knowing that I'd get stupid on the descent down Heartbreak. Stupid did what stupid does, but I never managed to close it down. As a matter of fact, I never saw anybody for the last twenty miles of the race... not in front of me and not behind me.

Lotsa walking up Kitsuma, a really fun trip down, and I rolled back into Old Fort at 5:53... good enough for third place single speed, 31st overall.

Kelly Klett 5:36:18
Barnyard 5:48:27
Dicky 5:53:15

I think I'm the only one that noticed this small factoid. Back in 2010 when Thomas Turner set the previous record for men's open at 4:49, this image was shot of the finish line well before he came in (link):

gratuitously cropped photo from Off the Road Photos (official ORAMM photographers)

Jebediah Bisquick's new record time set this past Sunday? 4:33:16... freaky, right?


Joker said...

Nice job Rich. Riding that race SS cannot be an easy task.

AdamB said...

No wonder you didn't win... That Michelob Ultra shrank your neck and you had to finish the race with your head on your un-supportive shoulders. At least you won the "neckless" division.

Mike said...

You are, officially, the whitest Oompa-Loopma ever.

Anonymous said...

short dude on a short podium