Monday, October 28

Wilkes 100k

Staring in the mirror Saturday morning, I thought about not going to the race.  I was just not in the mood to start a 60+ mile event in temps hovering slightly above freezing.  The rest of the Faster Mustache crew was going out later that day to mark the course for the following day's Back Yard Experience... that sounded much better.

But I had a plan, so best to suck it up and follow through.

In the parking lot, people discussed what to wear.  On the line, there was everything from bare arms and legs to people looking like they were going on a polar expedition.  I had embro'ed up (for the first time ever), knee warmers, arm warmers, vest, under shirt, sleeveless jersey, beanie... chemical heat insoles that did so little that I just shoved them up into my arm warmers as a wind blocker.

Neutral start on the highway.  "Neutral."  As the road went down, the main pack left me off the back.  I looked behind me... stragglers.  I always have problems like this on the road, just not normally this bad.  As the road went back up, I caught back on the rear of the field but couldn't weave my way through the traffic without going over the yellow line.

Boom.  Left onto the road into Bandit's Roost, and the race went live.  Already blown up from the "neutral" start, I couldn't make my way through much of the field before finding the line-up to the single track on the Over Mountain Victory Trail.  People were literally standing in line waiting their turn... some not waiting their turn as much as others... whatever.

I found myself at the back of a seven or eight man train.  Our engineer was allowing a huge gap to open in front of him.  I knew the coal car, so I did what I could to encourage him to make a move, but... bike race.  Whatever.  I was sitting on E Hag's wheel hoping maybe he would start making things happen.  No amout of bell ringing or ribbing was doing the job.  It was going to be maybe 15 miles before things opened up again.  I needed to come around.

I made a move here, there, here... maybe eight or nine miles into the race, I finally had open trail ahead.  Sadly, it was waaaaaaaaayyyyy open.   Not a rider in sight for quite awhile.  Little to no idea how many single speeders were ahead or who they were.

Finally I caught one, Scott George.  This is his kinda course.  Power rider.  Not a great course for a little guy like me.  I passed him, and he hopped on my wheel.  It was cordial... pleasant... nice for awhile.
Off the OVT, we hit the road.  I tossed off my vest at aid station one and followed Scott down the paved descent to the back of the damn.  He went into the Dark Mountain section ahead of me, and I struggled to keep him in sight.  Here's where the 650b's got the better of me.  Dark Mountain is the oldest of all the trails in the area.  Beat up.   Rooty.  I could not keep on Scott's wheel whenever things got rough.  A knot started heating up between my shoulder blades.  Fire.

Off Dark Mountain, back across the dam, past the aid station.  I didn't see Scott anywhere, but there were two single speeders stopped at the aid station.  I elected not to stop, although that meant going the first forty miles on one bottle.  Meh.  It's what I do.

Back on the OVT in reverse, I got back on the gas as best as possible.  Someone was still shoving the hot knife in my back.  My hands hurt... hamburger.  Body heat management as the day got warmer.  I was wondering if Scott was ahead of me.  Soon enough I got my answer.

He was lying right on the side of the trail, wedged between a couple trees.

"You all right?"

"un huh."

"Are you sure?"

"unnnhhhh," and a nod.

I took off and went back into race mode.  The wind was out of his sails for sure.  The Kerr Scott Trails will give you loads of speed all day.  Stay on your game or see what's off in the woods at some point.

Off OVT, pavement, wind.  I took the lid off my bottle and poured the remnants into my mouth.  Forty miles.  Might not have been a smart idea.  A group of geared riders caught me on the open road... soon enough back into the woods, they let me by.

Water at the aid station at mile forty.  That was soooo nice.  Figured that would be the last time I stopped.  Whatever.

Mostly alone on the Warrior Creek loop, occasionally passing another lone rider.  Never a single speeder.  Shit.  The pain in my back is as bad as I've ever felt... so glad I chose the whole 650b experiment in the name of "science."

A bobble here or there on the more technical Headwaters extension, some of the parts of the Warrior Creek loop that confused me since we're going backwards from the standard direction.  After 4:47 of ride time, I finally saw the finish.  I was wasted.  I looked around and saw very few people... a couple single speeders. 

"Did I get fourth?"

"Nope.  Third."

"Damn, I'm sticking around for the podium."

Not that I don't like to be social.  I was just a wreck.  The 650b rigid beat the ever-loving shit outta me.  I just wanted to go home and lay down.  Big (long) day ahead on Sunday.

Got the whole story about how things shook out at the front.  Bob Moss... third on this ORAMM podium here in July, crushed it.  Fourth place overall going into the first trail.  What a monster.  He ripped my legs off, beat me with them, and then fed them to the squirrels.

photo cred: Elizabeth Morris

Always a good time racing in North Wilkesboro... always.


John Parker said...

So has the 650b itch been scratched? or is it more horses for courses thing?

Anonymous said...

So does this mean that your adventure into 650b wheels is effectively over?

Nick Bragg said...

I caught you on the Warrior Creek trails after I fixed my chain mess. I was riding the 29er and wearing a black kit...surely you remember!

I enjoy the humor, thanks for posting.

dicky said...

I remember....

More 650 crap talk tomorrow.

26fullsusftw said...

It's in Wilkesboro not north Wilkesboro