Monday, September 18

'17 Fool's Gold (not quite) 60: Part One

Leave work at 1:30PM for the lonely drive down to Ellijay.  Gas station chicken sammich, Doritos, and Coke for lunch.  Pick up my registration materials at 6:00PM.  An hour later, I settle into the hotel after hitting the Ingles for beer and creamer.  The hotel smells a bit like a cigar and wet shoes.  Taco Bell for supper.    Now the hotel smells a bit like a cigar, wet shoes, and sub-par Mexican food.

Beer, cable TV, organize my shit for the race tomorrow.

Everything goes so smoothly Saturday morning that I find myself sitting in my car, fully prepared and ready to race with 45 minutes to spare.  I roll down the windows and listen to conversations I think I've heard a thousand times before.

Head over to the start with fifteen minutes to go.  Place my bike near the front and head into the woods to pee.  I hear something over the loudspeaker.  Look over my shoulder.  The start line is being moved fifty yards further down the road.  My bike is now in the gravel by itself.

Shake it off, grab my ride and jam through the weeds to obtain a start position just slightly above my pay grade... right next to Brad Cobb.  He had somehow accidentally registered in both the 40+ and single speed classes.  He brought the bike with one gear.  Shit.  Unless he has a "situation," the rest of us are racing for second.

The course had to be reduced from 60 miles to 48.6 (or so) due to hurricane damage.  Less than 50 miles... that's like a XC distance in the endurance racing bizarro world.  This race is going to be over in less than four hours, so there's no time to sit up and take a breath.  If I'm ever not hurting, I'm not going fast enough.

The "neutral" start rolls out, and I'm quickly at my limit.  It's not enough to hold my position.  On the rolling pavement, the lead group of riders gets away.  Brad's outta sight.  Single speeders start passing me.  I go from second to third to fourth to fifth in no time.  The top three women are also in front of me.  What top end speed I've ever had, I no longer can find it.

We hit the meat of the first major climb.  This is where I need to make my biscuits.  Head down and hurting, I start picking spots back up.   From fifth to fourth to third to second... still no sight of Brad tho.  Meh.

Down the backside, and I know I'm gonna start bleeding time again.  The descent is fast with scattered chunk.  As long as the bigger riders I just passed can go down with a fair amount of skill, they're probably gonna come around me.

And then Chad does... and within minutes, I can see far enough ahead to know he's got more than 30 seconds on me without making an effort.  Meh.  We hit the doldrums flat'ish roads that get us over to the trail portion of the day, and Scott comes around handily.  Before we can start heading up to the Bull Mountain section of the course, another SS'er comes by on the backed of a geared train.  I'm back in fifth again.

photo cred: Dashing Images
We're headed to Bull Mountain instead of all the goods out on Jake Mountain.  This is what we lost to the storm.  Those trail were the reason I clicked the register button weeks ago.  I had so much fun last year... magic miles.  High speeds.  Also, more time for the old man legs to kick in.  No such luck this year.

As soon as we start making our way up to Bull Mountain, I turn it up all the way.  I go back into fourth place at a million miles an hour, hoping that I've dashed his hopes and dreams as I go by.  I do the same thing to Scott, but he makes a solid effort to hold on... he's just back there within sight.  For like... ever.

I start having all the detrimental self-doubting thoughts.

"Why do I bother racing?"

"What difference does it make if I beat this guy or not?"

"I could stop making my back hurt if I slowed way the fuck down..."

I'm here, this is the last time I'm doing this stupid shit for 2017, I'm gonna regret it if I don't give it what I got...

so back on the pain train, I guess.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good race blogging, have felt the same type thoughts many times: why am I doing this?
But way back from Dicky -in the middle of the pack.
There is something about racing the MTB that is really fun, keeps us coming back -- what is it?