Tuesday, October 1

JA King and Queen of the Watershed '19

Five stages.  All ridden in an individual time trial format.  Minimum thirty second gaps between racers... unless you wanna ride with a buddy.  You must yield to anyone who catches you.

I start in front of Watts, despite my having put more beers inside my much tinier body the night before.  He 's still getting over a butt injury and says he's "taking it easy."

Waiting to be told to go...

"How far is this stage?"

I get answers from the people around me that vary from five to ten miles.  That's truly helpful.

I go out at what feels like a hard effort, my head pounding in unison with my heart.  My over-inflated tires are bouncing all over the place.  The previous night's thunder storm (it rains in NC?) made the rocks and roots slick, the wooden bridges even slicker.  My rock hard rubber bits slide around like I'm riding on banana peels.  Not only am I getting beat to death, the trail is almost pan flat.  Just like at Anne Springs about a month ago, my lower back is getting super pissed at me.  We don't get along with trying to go fast on flat terrain.

And shortly after I began, Watts catches me.


I let him around.  I try to hold his wheel.  I try to keep him in sight.

A whole lotta try with very little do.

He leaves me to my misery, a Cranberries song stuck in my head on repeat.  I have no concept of time or distance or geographical location... nothing.  Just pain and sadness, and then I pop out of the woods... and it's over.  Thank dog.  Thirty four minutes of bleeding out of my eyes.

"How are you doing, little buddy."

"I need a nap."

Roll over to the start of stage two.  Watts pulls a PBR outta a cooler.

"Want some beer?"

"unnggghhhh... "

I didn't but I did.  Anything cold would suffice and PBR is darn near water, so we shared and stood and sweat.

Start stage two, me thirty seconds behind Watts.  This trail has some climbing AND I have a fair idea how long it is... although my computer is back at Watts's house, so there's that.  I manage to pass a few people... one guy who just sorta stopped in the trail in front of me... thanks?  Regardless, this trail was actually fun and not so long that I was praying for a mechanical of mebbe a bear attack.

Over to stage three and Watts takes me to a secret cooler... full of IPAs.

Ooof.  My body rejects that idea right off.  Leave the cooler and then at the trail head, there are cold rags to make life better.  Good garbage, it's hot as fuck out here.  Cold rag and thank.

We decide to start together, me behind Watts.  He does his best to encourage me...

"C'mon, little buddy."

I hold his wheel, then lose it, then lose sight of him altogether... except as the trail spaghettis around and I see him... fifteen seconds ahead... twenty seconds ahead... thirty seconds ahead.  Meh.  The course is super chunky and beating the ever-loving piss outta me.  Stupid tire gauge... or stupid person who didn't pack the one that's never failed me.  I finish feeling like a whole heap of ass.

Over to stage four and I take up Watts on the secret IPA stash.  How much worse could I feel?

Oh, yeah.

The fourth stage is fun... at least it would've been fun had I the energy to push myself and had a clue how long I'd need to keep going.  The trail is fun but none too kind to my beaten and battered self.  At this point, I'm really just punching a clock and holding on for almost half an hour.

Stage five and the end is nigh.  Dorothy meets us there and she has COLD WATER... which was insanely good.  Also chips.  Also insanely good.  I could see the food trucks.  I could see the final finish line.  I just have to ride Little Loop (hooray) and Big Loop (what?).

Despite the "Big" descriptor, the entire stage wasn't too difficult or long... aside from what had to have been the longest climb of the day... and the surprise two-way traffic that I'm sure was talked about at some pre-race meeting somewhere.

That's probably was dead as I've ever felt after racing/riding 38-43 miles... in the hot sun... after treating myself so poorly.

The fact that the race entry  came a full-on food truck meal... so needed at that point.

I ate it as fast as I could chew (not that fast, after all).  Then just hanging out in the shade, stretching,

watching the kid's race, drinking beer (and a lot of water).

Did I mention I got sixth place?  No?  Can't say that I'm disappointed in the result as much as I was disappointed with myself.  I didn't expect to hammer a bunch of locals, but it woulda been neat to feel like 50% less ass.

It was really a good time.  I'm hoping I can squeeze it in next year... and show up to the start in better physical and emotional condition, because even tho it was a course that didn't really match my "particular set of skills," it was still a blast.

Highly, highly, highly recommend this one in 2020.

all photos cred: Watts... of course... and also Dorothy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good to see you still sporting the Jebediah Bisquick earring. Had me worried you lost that post race touch of class.