The night before, the forecast looked like rain for the first thing in the morning... and all day long. Pack dry clothes, lay out the Gore Tex.
Wake up early. Toast. Coffee. Check the weather. Rain delayed on account of weather. Swap all the clothes, suit up, and ride over to Zac's house (AKA Curtiswood Mansion) for the start. Tidy up whatever I can on my end and then watch people arrive. I think I see the sun poke it's head out of the clouds at some point.
I'm "in charge" of Race Stage #2, so I need to get headed out early. Five minutes before the start, I join up with Race Stage #1 coordinator, Colin, and his group of volunteers. Chase and Thomas join along... because... I dunno.
Beeline our way for efficiency. Get to the part of our route which has concerned us the most, the railroad bed that's under construction. They hadn't laid any tracks as of the day before, so it looks like we are golden. I look off in the distance, and they're spraying and steamrolling... on a Saturday. I call the route leader, Lee, and tell him we might have to enact plan B. We're rolling deep with 150-200 riders. Maybe we can't ride over wet'ish concrete like surfaces. Dunno.
Get to the end of the work zone and see the head construction mustache filling the tanker truck. I ask him if it's cool that "some of our friends will be following along," and could they possibly ride the train line.
"Ummm... sure. They might sink in a bit, but I don't see why not."
Super. Call Lee back up and tell him it might be sticky but not totally uncool.
Ride on, leave Colin and his crew at Stage #1, ride over to Stage #2 with Chase and Thomas. I promise them we're gonna get some actual trail riding in before the rain. We ride the entire race route looking for anything that might need course tape or something.
photo cred: MudmanGet to the starting area, find some of the guys (to remain sorta internet nameless) that were a big part of putting this piece of quality trail in this patch of unused woods. Wait for the TdC to arrive.
I start my stage and commence with sag duties. I find Kip and Cam fiddling with a flat and hold up to help them get moving sooner rather than later. With BC pulling super helpy sag support, I can kinda let the race leave me way behind. That and DFL shoo-in, Jon Danger, hangs out to watch the flat-fixing and beer-sharing. We finally get moving and finish up so everyone can move on to lunch.
I'm pulling sag/sweep duties all the way to lunch and then to Stage #3. Almost immediately, I come up on a guy who somehow inexplicably ripped his front derailleur to shreds... on a paved greenway. He's with his accountabilibro, but since we're only headed to lunch and not holding anyone up, I decide to help (mostly watch) instead of sweeping them so they don't get lost in the maze of greenways.
photo cred: MudmanGet them rolling, arrive at the lunch stop at Tod's house (thanks, Tod), and the riders all get enough time to down a beer, eat some Rhino Market, and get their collective shits together.
Back out and on sweep duties, we hit the longest party pace section of the day. All is well at the back of the pack. Tranquil. Friendly. We string out so far that I can't even see the front of the 150-200 rider group.
We enter the neighborhood where we dive back into the woods. I overhear a father who wants to get his daughter back to Curtiswood Mansion. Asthma flare up. I make sure all the riders get into the woods, so my sag/sweep duties are over. Get out of the neighborhood, find the father/daughter, talk to the about their route back, realize that they are just relying on the Google, decide to lead them back on less busy/much safer roads and cut-throughs.
Get them back and happy, hit the Tour route backwards, watch three cops arrest a guy who parked his scooter in the front yard of a business to "take a nap," finally find the peleton as they are about to come out of the power line cut and do the final section of road to Stage #4.
Make it to the next start. Decide to join the racers in this Keirin format loop to enter the last trail, roll some of the Front Yard Trails until I get to the finish line, and join the party pacers in the cheer section. Day over.
We got incredibly lucky with the weather. It never rained until the after party saw some sprinkles. Fortunately, the dance floor was covered. Fun was had and I think I finally gave in and went to sleep on the couch in the Mega Shop around 1:30AM.
So yeah, once again, it was an incredible event. My only wish would be to be on the other side, because everyone always seems to have an incredible time. Most, if not everybody got to see parts of Charlotte they've never seen before or even knew existed.
But like I said, my version is a polished turd compared to the images of the day collected by Weldon.
Go check them out.