Thursday, May 30

'19 Trans-Sylvania Epic: Stage Two

Stage 2: Coopers Gap

photo cred: Cody Phillips
I guess it’s the Queen Stage… mebbe. Who’s in charge of determining that? If memory serves, it’s hard… so there’s that.

I’ve had good starts and bad ones here. One time the race had started, and there I was still party pacing along, oblivious of all the people ripping around me. This time, I stayed towards the front on the neutral rollout, and when it went live, I was actually aware. Had a little bar-on-bar contact with a female racer that made me feel like a total ass, which probably has me projecting way too much. I still hold doors open for women, but then again, I hold doors for men. Mebbe I just like holding doors?

Double track to shit track to garvel and then I get passed a fair dinkum until things start rolling upwards. Hit the first descent that I actually know all to well, get to the bottom, more garvel

Things get semi-muddled from here. I make some decent ground on a double track climb, hold my own on a decent, get to a hike-a-bike behind Ohio Kenny… and I realize that while I was messing with my Shuffle on my bib strap, I dropped it. Shit. I’m not losing my treasured antique Shuffle over the possibility of fifth, sixth… seventh place?

Toss my bike in in the weeds and start walking back down.

Lotsa “Whatca looking for, Dicky?” as I wiggle my way back through the coming hike-a-bikers. The sadness starts to settle in until a rider back up the trail says, “Is this it?”

I look up, and she’s pointing at the ground next to where I left my bike next to the trail. It's kinda adorable that she was probably too young to be able to identify a Shuffle.

Hike up, put my Shuffle back on… try to not think about all the people that passed me while I was ambling about, especially the people in my class.

Out of the hike-a-bike, back into some woods that I remember, get to a rocky creek crossing, dismount… my bike gets hooked in the laurel. I try to force it through. It’s not coming with me. I look at the problem, and a branch has bent my left brake line almost into a hairpin.


This is bad?

Bend it back, squeeze the lever… brake juice doesn’t squirt out anywhere. I guess that’s okay.

From there, I went into a dark place. The rocks that a forty something year old me used to love, the challenge ten feet in front of me, it’s why I’ve come back year after year. Fifty-year-old me is ready to punch something. Anything. I probably haven’t eaten or drank enough, but now is not the time to catch up on nutrition. Get to the Enduro section of the day, get down safe… making sure to not blow the sweeping corner where we stood and watched so much carnage on the last day two years ago.

Pushing/riding up the last hard section, and I finally really wanna know why something feels wobbly in my rear end. I had thought it was a loose chain, but mebbe something else?

Oh. My rear thru axle skewermathing has backed out more than an eighth of an inch. Doh. Tighten it up and soon after, hit the chunkiest descent of the day. That was pleasant timing. Pass a couple riders on the way down. Fuck you, whatever your name is trail.

A smooth ride over to the water station, don’t stop, hit the final climb up Stillhouse where I’ve made plenty of pleasant memories crushing a few souls in the past. When I was young. And motivated. Get down the backside, mebbe ten or fifteen minutes of effort, and I’m at the finish, despite all my attempts to sabotage my efforts on the over four hour day in (and out of) the saddle.

Check the results. Shit. John Kuhn (1st place) DNF’ed, and somehow, I didn’t fall backwards despite all my fuckery. I’m in fourth now, three minutes and change off the podium… meaning all that time I spent looking at the ground for my Shuffle and generally fucking up all the other things mighta mattered.

I guess tomorrow is another day.

1 comment:

hellbelly said...

I was a Shuffle and Nano fan until they a. stopped working and b. stopped being available. Not one to move on from an extraordinarily practical way to enjoy tunes/podcasts without a fight I starting employing these the SanDisk 16gb mp3 player. $49 on Amazon. Water-resistant, easy to use and no touch screen to screw up. You can also get the 8gb for less, but the 16gb one does have Bluetooth which is kinda nice although I use a Far End gear stereo to mono short bud. Rawk on.