Monday, April 1

The Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte '19: Part One

My first time "racing" what is essentially the Tour de Charlotte but is actually Definitely Not Tour de Charlotte after six years of helping make it happen.  Much excite.  Finally, it's time to experience the event that seems to turn miles into smiles year after year.

Mebbe some explanation of concept.  A rolling party with as many spectators as there are racers riding from place to place in Charlotte, racing as many stages on "trails" and whatnot as one might have to, resulting in an everyone wins kinda day, just with some of us winning more than others.

A short roll out from Tod and Cathie's house and we're at...

Stage One:  A short LeMans start up a narrow old double track to our bikes, and then the longest course of the day (4-5 miles) with the most elevation and technical bits as well.  I line up towards the front, but after the run starts, I feel like I'm hauling a boat anchor. 

Running is dumb.

I get to my bike, bang the hard left into the woods, mebbe in about seventh or eighth place... and almost immediately run over Chase and another guy who apparently tried to put two people into a one people sized hole between two trees.

The steep climbs hurt... so much, but at least I'm forced to up my pace, and I close the gap on a couple riders.  Make a pass.... another... Faster Mustache teammate Jason right on my rear wheel.  I don't think I can keep him there.

 photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Worth mentioning, same spot... Jim got this:

photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Which brings us this moment:

photo cred: Jim Tonyan
Tom, with an incredibly sweet photo bomb.

On a climb, I clip a tree with my bars and go down to the ground.  Jason goes by, so I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore.  Scramble to get back on my feet, heart rate maxed out, decide that if I'm going to make chase after him, I'm gonna need to settle in first.  The gap grows.

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
I get to a point where I feel like mebbe there's about a mile left.  Over my shoulder, the guy behind would have to put in a serious effort to catch me.  Ahead to Jason, I'm facing the same situation.

I settle in and come into the finish in fourth place.

Stage Two:  We're starting with a pancake flat gravel stretch with a loose condition, soft right up a hill and into the woods.  32 X 18 and spinning like mad, the best I can do is mebbe seventh into the woods.  Not long into the first lap, I see the elevated structure option that I'd only seen on the internet up until now... and a huge crowd of spectators.  I know the go-around option is a huge time penalty, but my rule on structures I've never seen before is to never do something that I can't wheelie off of safely.  This thing is shoulder high and I can't see anything but the up ramp.

Kurdt showing how it's done:

photo cred: Cathie Docherty Schmidt
I take the right turn of shame to a round of boos... I assume I'm the first one to take the long, easy way.  I'm wrong.

The first bit of the lead group took the go-around until Jason Wilson takes the high line, and in doing so, also temporarily taking the lead.

Anyways, I know that skipping it for four laps is gonna cost me big time and put me outta the playing card scoring system (riders get cards, 1st place gets King and down from there), so I just sit up and soft pedal.  On the second lap, I get beer poured on me from a tree, so I stop, reach up... and finish the guy's beer for him.

Two more laps of boos and jeers and avoiding the high line, and I finish outta the cards.  Grab my bike, head into the woods, look at the elevated structure from one end to the other... and ride it in an effort to scrape what little pride I have left off the ground.

Shit.  It wasn't bad at all. Whoever said "discretion is the better part of valor" never had to face such an adverse situation, obvs.

Pretty sure that finishing out of the points in one of five stages means that I'm no longer in the running for a top three overall.  Top five?  That has to be a stretch now too.

Now what?

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