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Monday, April 29

2013 Big Frog 65

The day before the race was without any real challenges.  Up early for the ride with the mayor, breakfast, too much coffee followed by too little work, off at 1:00PM, at Luke's by 2:00PM, shitty road food, beer stop, race check-in, motel check-in, Mexican food, Watts showed up with Charkie, a couple of beers, and then this moment at the Ducktown Copper Inn...

So yeah, it was pretty much my average pre-race experience.

When we woke up, the skies were dark and the rain was falling. We drove over to the Ocoee Whitewater Center, got parked, and sat in the car.  Rain still coming down.
When we finally got out of the car, everyone around seemed to be in some kind of stupor.  Razor sharp pre-race focus was replaced with "What the hell should I wear for a long day of 50° rain?" confusion.  I mean Gerry "The Pflug" Pflug was wearing rain pants.  RAIN PANTS.  IN APRIL.  The hard man of single speeding that eats people lowered to wearing bicycle tourist garb.

The NUE hundiefolk went off.  That gave me a half hour to make a call on what to wear based on what I saw them wearing.  They were all over the place and absolutely no help.  I went with:

bibs
knee/arm warmers
base layer
two sleeveless jerseys
METAL wind vest
Misfit Walz cap
schwag summer gloves someone gave me last week

This was based on a guess and nothing more.

The 65 started a half hour after the hundie.  The pace was calm relative to the start of any NUE type race I've ever done.  Perhaps the rain had dampened some racing spirits.  Since I knew we were climbing pavement to a very long trail section, I shot to the front to lift the pace.  I didn't stay there long, as the most super heroic looking single speeder I saw at the start (Aaron Moore) came around me.  I drafted him for a bit, but he shot over five feet to the left letting me know that my free ride was over.  A couple of gradual downs and I was coasted off the back and entered the woods @10th overall behind three other single speeders.

The bike was handling pretty well in the slop, despite my doubts about running Ikons front and rear in anything but dry conditions.  I made my way past a few riders, caught two single speeders from Motor Mile Racing, got the super hero in sight (he was wearing bright green and hard to miss), and passed him just a few yards before we popped out on a paved downhill...

where he coasted right past me and put me thirty seconds in arrears just like that.

I made it past him a few climbs later, dropped him, blew through the first aid station, and attacked the beginning of the first fire road.

At the crest of the first big climb, I wondered if I had created a big enough gap that it would stick on the descents.  It did not.  The green giant flew past me with one of the Motor Mile SS guys in tow.  They both casually dropped me as they coasted by. 

I pumped my fist and proclaimed, "Damn it!"

At least they were entertained.

As soon as the road started going up, I went off with a decent amount of anger.  I caught them, recovered, attacked, and noticed only the green giant had the legs.  Magnificent legs, I might add.  As much time as I put on him, he still coasted past me and left me behind when I stopped at the second aid station for my bottles.

He got some distance on me, but as soon as the climbing started up, I attacked again.  I passed him, dropped him, kept hammering, got him out of sight, and hit the next downhill.  It was chunky enough that it wasn't just a simple matter of weight ratios, it was also balls and stupidity.  I have a little of both.  I managed to keep him away.  Another climb, and another more gradual descent, and he coasted on by once more.

Meh.

He remained hung out in front of me like a carrot.  We were going up, but the gradient wasn't steep enough for me to take advantage of my girlish figure.  I slowly crawled back up to him just before a right hand turn.

"You're not gonna see anyone after this."

What did he mean?  At first I thought he was going to crush my head between his coconut calves and bury me in the woods.  Then he followed up with this after I got a few feet on him:

"See you on the blocks."

Hmmm... that's a very bike racery thing to say.  He must think I've got this in the bag or something.  Since he dropped such a cool bit of vernacular on me, he must know what he's talking about.  I left him on a big climb, and now only had to deal with myself.

My worst enemy.

I wasn't sure what to do up there.  I'm not gonna say I had a panic attack, but maybe I did.  I had to tell myself over and over to find a tempo and not get excited.  There was still more than twenty miles to go, plenty of time for me to fuck things up.

I had to constantly tell myself to calm down.  I'd kept up with the green giant at a deliberate pace, so something just a tick bigger would increase my gap.  Then drop it down and maintain.  Through the third aid station pretty sure the green giant would be stopping, past the riders who were still on their way out to the gravel lollipop, looking at their faces as they headed out for a much longer day, still talking to myself...

"Remain calm.  All is well."

I hit the last aid station.  Seven to go, almost all trail.  All I could think was, "Don't fuck this up."

Careful, maybe too careful.  Looking over my shoulder.  The fat lady won't go on for at least a half hour..  A few missteps and moments where I thought I mighta missed a turn... so hard to see out of my glasses.  Finally I was at the final descent down Thunder Rock Express.

This is where I almost lost the 2006 Cohutta 100 (back when you could win the single speed class on 26" wheels).

I flatted down this very technical descent and rode in on a flat.  Not this time.   I was going down c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y.

Which was stupid.  Since the last time I came down this trail (2008), the whole thing has been rerouted and benched with a machine.  I kept waiting for the gnar level to increase, and it didn't... at all.  Even at my reserved pace, I still saw no one over my shoulder.

At the bottom, two volunteers instructed me as to which way to go.  I slowed down to confirm what they said.  A little bit of wide open road/bridge ambiguity, and some looking for arrows and confirmation.  I was not going to lose this race with a bad turn.

Across the bridge and onto a bike path next to the highway.  A rider came up behind me.  I had no idea where he came from.

"That other guy is right behind us."

I glance over my left shoulder and saw that that the mud encrusted rider was not the green giant.  I pinned it... flat out pinned it.  A quick look back and I still can't see the green giant in the distance.  My new friend was glued to my wheel.

"How far back was he?"

I don't remember his response, but it was enough to spur me into another interval of burying myself.  I looked way back and saw nothing.  I was in the clear.  I motioned for the other rider to come around.

"You want to get around me?"

"No, I'm good."

Why didn't this guy want to come around?  Was he just tired and taking the free ride to the end?

Within site of the Whitewater Center, I looked back.  The green giant was not to be seen.  I told my new informative friend that I was blown.  I figured there was no reason to destroy myself any further.  He came up beside me.

Shit.

It was the Motor Mile guy I thought I blew apart more than thirty miles ago.  I just pulled him to within site of the line, blew myself up, and told him as much.  He patted me on the shoulder as he went by.

"Good race, man."

And just like that, he created a gap.

Right turn onto the bridge, left turn off, and fifty yards of pea gravel to the finish.  Nowhere to hide.  I'd fucked myself proper.

He rolled in at 5:04:21, and four seconds later... me.

The green giant came in, super hero cape aflutter, thirty eight seconds later.

Hrrmmm...

2nd single speed and 5th overall.  I can't kick myself too hard for that.

photo cred (even if I doubt he wants it): Shane Schreihart

But I will... over and over and over and over and over and...

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cool race report! I've been through that exact same scenario! Well sort of. I was the guy that ended up on the top "block". Hehehe

Anonymous said...

You must vow to destroy the man from Motor Mile!

Mike said...

So you're saying extra weight is a benefit? Sweeet.I, therefore, will crush you at the (gravel heavy, I'm sure), PMBAR.
mb

Sam said...

Great Story! Thanks for sharing, second ain't bad, that's for sure.

jaywbee said...

Motor Mouth vs. Motor Mile . . . LOL

Anonymous said...

You'll be happy to know i circulated this through the Chattanooga crowd and, as a result, Aarons new nick name at the Tuesday night group ride is coconut calves. He said "that little fella can ride"

Anonymous said...

Dickey, I like your blog better when you are competitive. Please continue to train, make great bike race, podium and THEN drink beer.

Just thinking out loud.


(This is your positive conscience speaking)

Anonymous said...

You should have punched that dude in the balls.