Tuesday, July 8

The 19th Annual Tour de Burg: Part One of ??

The Tour de Burg.  Always a hazy memory.  Being that I skipped the road stage as planned, thus taking me outta the general classification (GC), the racing for me was anything but.  All efforts would be for naught, aside from fun and camaraderie...

let's get to it.  The details may be wrong in factiness, chronological order, and general readability.

Day one.  I'm used to a forty minute prologue, so that's what I expect.  I had read the descripstion in the email, but it never stuck.

"Prologue ITT Boy Scout (Trimble Mtn) & Lookout Mtn Stage"

I attach my Sport Ident timing chip (Le Tour is getting hi-tech), and hammer out the ITT hoping to get on to Le Directeur's house ASAP and settle in.  I finish and see the others who had started ahead of me all hanging out under a tree.  Confusion.  I inquire as to what's going on.

"Just waiting for everyone to finish before we head over to Stage One."

Oh.  Lookout Mtn Stage... not just another description of the ITT. 

So it was to be, an ITT followed by a short (for Le Tour) stage.  We start en masse, one long line of riders strewn across a field.  What follows feels familiar to me from an earlier year but backwards.  An hour or so of pain and a beat down descent and it's over.

Day two.  My night of sleeping on a pad on the floor was rough for my older'esque body.  I'm stiff as a board less than 24 hours in.  We're riding our mountain bikes from Harrisonburg to the mountains.  Not sure if that's a first for Le Tour, but certainly a first for me.  How far?  If you have to ask, you shouldn't be here.  At least you can see them from town.

I honestly remember very little about the stage, the timed sections and what one might call "racing." 

We leave from Court Square around 9:30, ride all the way out into the mountains.  The first timed stage goes off, pain follows.  I ride in and amongst familiar faces.  The riding is difficult... as expected.  We eat.

photo cred: Chris Merriam
Rain clouds loom in the distance.  Thunder is heard.

The word is "get to the Enduro™ segment before it hits, or it's gonna be a shitty ride down."  Sorta worried but preferring to not get all up and hurried, I hang back, find Chris, and we ride together along the rock strewn ridge line I suppose is called Headquarters Ridge.  I have my only wreck of the week (spoiler alert), a five mile an hour (at most) over the bars experience in the lumpy, momentum-stealing rocks.  The thunder gets louder, but we manage to get down the Enduro™ and to the finish in time to eat sammiches before heading back into town.  On the way, the rain came down heavy.  Laughter and thunder all the way back.  It was insane.  We roll back to comfort, arriving in town at 7:00PM.


A nine and a half hour day on the bike and eating sammiches.

Day three.  My skip the road riding and volunteer day.  I helped get the support vehicle all settled in the night before.  After the riders hit the road, Alice, Chase and I head to out for groceries and a wax toilet ring (long story).  Our cart full of Coke, Dr Thunder, cookies and enough beer to fuel a high school party, we head out to watch the first sprint finish.  Chase and I decide it's now time to drink beer.  I do some stand in work for Nate's photo finish.

photo cred: Nate Shearer
The sprint goes off and ends at our feet.  The support wagon arrives.  Riders get water.  I grab another beer.  Everyone sets off, and we follow the racers as a sag wagon filled with tubes, tires, a pump and no more beer.  We pull off at a store and fix that.  Follow the racers all the way to the finish, grab some more beer, tear down the lunch stop and head back out to follow the racers again.

This timed section has more gnar gravel.  A lot.  Rider with a flat.  Pull over.  Replace the tire and tube and they are rolling.  Another rider.  And then another.  I don't remember how many, but I do remember having to borrow the rider's tire levers with the harder to remove tire/rim combos.  No, we didn't have one of our own.  We get low on tubes.  After changing three flats on one rider, we have to warn him that our good will is running short.  Fortunately, the road turns up towards Reddish Knob and flat risks go way down.  We slowly follow the DFL towards the top, decide to head to the finish and let everyone know who's down the mountain, and the day is done... except the riders had to still pedal all the way back to town while I sat in the back seat digging a hole that I could crawl out of the next day.

photo cred: Sue Haywood
I was glad I got the chance to volunteer.  It was interesting looking out from the inside.   Now that's I've seen how the sausage is made, surprisingly I want to continue eating the sausage.

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