I know what to expect at the Tour de Burg. Pain, suffering, good times, incredible trails... and the unexpected. Despite the fact that the opening prologue didn't start until 6:00PM, I show up at Carp's house around 1:30 to carve out a space in the corner of a room to call my own for the week. As soon as I roll up, I see Buck unloading his van. We settle in, Carp sets us to the task of putting tail lights on the trailer, we crack a beer, search for tools, and figure out how to make le Tour comply with at least one VA state law.
Pedro and Ralph show up in the Creeper Van. Chad, and Boyes roll in. Brown Town later. Familiar faces from the past. We head over to Trimble Mountain for the opening prologue.
I go off towards the back, after last year's finishers, before straight rookies. Four miles, about half of them up a mostly single speed friendly climb. The descent is none too gnarly, and I end up with a result that doesn't suck, given the present company and all.
Beer, then on to dinner. Load into the Creeper Van to head over to the feeding zone.
its unofficial theme song.
More beer, shenanigans...
Wake up with the Two Towers/Massanutten Stage to look forward to. I've done a very similar stage here in the past. Tons of painful climbing, highly technical ridgeline schralpping, followed by some very rocky descents. The second timed section being even harder than the first. Bueno.
Twice that day, I'm asked by a Tour rookie, "How much longer/further?"
"It's best to not have hope. Keep your head down and move forward. It's easier that way."
I'm not going to lie and say that day was easy on a rigid fork. It was not. I didn't die, and I managed to be humbled by the mountain many times. That's why I come here tho.
It's already getting difficult, what with the in bed after 11:00PM and up at 6:00AM schedule. I get my things together and the church bell rings out that it's 9:00AM and we're somehow just slightly late to the start at Courthouse Square.
My borrowed bike is causing myself some interesting situations on the party pace ride out to stage one. I blame myself for not taking it home after the Trans-Sylvania Epic to get it sorted out as Chris M had suggested. The V-brakes are an on/off affair... zero modulation. Scrubbing speed isn't really working, and I jerk every time I try to not run into the back of the riders in front of me. I feel the narrow bars in my shoulders, and I notice that my knees hit my wrists when I ride up on top of the flats.
photo cred: Chris M.Looking at the other members of the peleton and analyzing their positions, I realize this is no bueno. I decide that I will try to just ride alone in the timed sections and suffer the rest of the day, hoping that a hundred miles of riding in a terrible position won't have a lasting effect... and I won't kill anyone.
We stop at the church for water and a regroup for the first timed section. As I pull up towards the start, Buck mentions that Tomi is telling Carp that he's dropping out. Knee (stomach... something?) issues. It doesn't even take me a minute to consider my options. I ride back to the church and seek out Tomi. At first, it looks like we're bike cycling back, but then we find out that there's a truck that needs driven to town. Even more buneo.
Beer, shower, watch some of the "other" tour, head out to the top of Reddish Knob to help set up the aid stop and watch racers finish.
Tomi and I get up there way early. The weather goes from not-so-bad to rain and slightly cold. The truck and trailer arrive and a few seconds later Jeremiah Bishop hits the top. As other riders make their way up, Tour veterans grab the warm clothes they dropped in the back of the truck earlier that morning. Others are not so prepared. I end up giving away my capilene base layer, rain coat, rain hat, flannel shirt, even the plastic bag I brought my spare layers in... until I'm down to my t-shirt and shorts which I'm not willing to part with.
Tomi drives us down the mountain and we get back in time to help sort out the mess of the day and prepare for the evening meal.
Harlan shows up to dinner on a single speed cross bike. Disc brakes, tubeless. I roll around on it. Seems to fit... sort of. He offers to leave it there so I can ride it on the second road stage. I accept.