Otherwise, Friday went as smoothly as possible. Off work at 4:00PM, in the car at 4:07PM, at the hotel at 9:25PM, and watching HBO in bed at 10:00PM. Up at 5:50AM and a short drive to the race, a bit bummed to be in this part of the country for the first time and not able to see any of it in the darkness tho.
Anyways, 25 single speeders on the start line with about 100 normal others. Some are, as always, intimidating IMHOMO. They looked like "athletes." We start all neutral-like on a paved road. I'm able to stay up in the top five overall... for a very short while.
Mike Tam, the face that's usually behind a bullhorn making fun of people at cross races, decides to take a run off the front. The pace picks up. Mike soon comes back to us, but the damage is done. I watch as the group pulls away from me. About 25 riders total and about half of them are single speeders. Half. How the fuck does that happen?
I watch the group ahead effortlessly gapping me, and I'm alone and riding into a headwind. Meh. Eventually I get to the first right turn into the woods, Mike Tam on my wheel. The heckling begins.
"I thought you were a better bike handler."
I wonder if this will last all day long.
I get away from him, but another single speeder gets by me minutes later. I'm in something like 12th place? Mid pack. Already. What really hurts is that although I'm here to have fun, I'm actually trying and breathing hard and occasionally red-lining... and sitting just in mid pack.
The trails are super zoomy. A succulent dirt ribbon, purpose built for mountain bike cycling.
But it is punchy. My back is already angry, and the knot in my right shoulder tells me we're in for a long day. I get one single speeder back, but he tells me that he's in the 30-49 age group, so meh on that accomplishment.
I get on some trail called Kindergarten and the trail turns from zoomy to thunderchunk. Big rock maneuvers and my left hamstring says cramping seems like a good idea right now. Mustard and hope.
Aid station #1 and pass another single speeder and back to the same place for Aid Station #2 from the other direction. I'm starting to really regret not having something to keep track of time, as I don't know if I've been out for 45 minutes or two hours. I refuse to ask about mileage or time at the Aid Stations... mostly because I'm blowing through them. Also, stupid pride backing up a bad decision.
I catch another single speeder on a kick-in-the-dick trail named "Theo."
"Theo," I mumble to myself in my best Bill Cosby voice.
I come around him and he sticks on my wheel. He won't let me go. I don't want to "race" for 10th or 11th or 12th or whatever place we're in, so I ask him to come around. And then, there he goes.
I catch back up to him at Aid Station #3 and grab a couple cookies and a bottle of water. We ride together for a short spell, but eventually I can feel the cramp coming back. My shoulder and lower back are in on this revolt, so I click it back a notch. He rides away again.
photo cred: Dashing ImagesA period of time that feels like seven hours (but isn't) goes by. We pull into the one place that I know is close to the finish as the crow flies, but I've been told there's still a lot of pain still in store. Once again, I find myself with the same single speeder. We make our way up a steep climb, hit the pavement together, bang the left turn up the steep power line. We finally introduce ourselves... and then this man named Matt leaves me again.
I catch back up to him multiple times, which makes me wonder if he believes me when I say I'm just trying to get to the finish line in the shortest amount of time in the least amount of pain. He finally gaps me and now the only thing I see is the dust he's kicking up in the corners.
Pop out of the woods, cross the road, hit the gravel, finish.
I would say an hour or so goes by before I even go ask about my finishing time. 4:26:24. No idea what place, but pretty certain it's gotta be something around 10th.
Spend the rest of the afternoon, early evening and quite possibly late evening just hanging out, drinking beer, listening to live music, swapping stories... whatnot. I eventually crash out on my air mattress that I tossed under a pavilion so I don't get taken out by the acorns that are crashing to the ground constantly.
I gotta say, the Lula Lakes Land Trust 5 Points 50 really surprised me. I knew it would be punchy and not have a lot of long climbs or descents, but I had no idea how diverse the trails would be. I expected it to be all buff and the first bunch of miles just reaffirmed my assumptions. Then things went sideways, and there were rocks, and lumpy ridges that reminded me of the cool trails built in Florida in old quarries, and lumpy creek crossing and open power line climbs. The kinds of changes in scenery that keep things interesting. Not to mention, fall was totally popping all over the place out there. I'm glad I finally convinced myself to make the drive, because the whole thing was worth it. Except for all the self-inflicted pain stuff, this was a really great way to end the "season."
Oh, I checked the results yesterday when I got home. 7th place. I don't know how that happened but I was certainly a bit bummed to miss out on 6th being that it's my favorite place to be if I can't get on the box. That and once again, I shouldn't look at the results for age groupers. I woulda been 3rd in the 30-49 age group (the biggest field at 34 riders).
What was it that Wooderson said about high school girls and single speeders... I get older, they stay the same age?