Tuesday, September 5

Treeshaker 6 Hour Mountain Bike Challenge '23

The Treeshaker 6 Hour Challenge is the first event I've done since getting sick in late May, missing Trans-Sylvania Epic, and limping through the Mountain Cat 100 in early June.  I don't know what all I've been doing (except recovering from some crazy bug bite thing and a trip to Colorado), but it felt good to do something again.

We had a decent field of single speeders this year compared to just Kevin and myself last year... which is nice... because misery abhorring a vacuum or something. 

Aside.  Ask me what I like to get to races early, and I'll bring up things like the fact that for some odd reason, they struggled to find my number plate even though they could see that I registered.  I've got nerves enough as it is, so getting up at 5:00AM to do a local event is worth it to me.

Line up towards the front.  The Treeshaker starts with a decent half mile climb that makes it so single speeders don't (have to) get dropped before you dip into the single track... assuming you're okay with going from zero to sixty in three seconds and holding it.

Gravel road, up the hill through the wet grass in the start/finish area, dive back down... and see a rider ahead lose it on the slick grass turn in a tumbling pile of bike and aqua jersey.  Sorry, Johnathan.  I get what I would call a decent start (for a quinquagenarian), so now I'm focused on not tailgating the rider ahead of me to keep from having to touch the brakes every time the pack accordions.  This works when it does and doesn't when it don't.  At some point, Johnathan recovered from touching the floor and catches back on to my back wheel. 

He's strong like bull, but admits he's not much for descending.  That means either I let him ahead of me and waste energy when I'm braking when I shouldn't lest I bump his back wheel, and then I'm forced to reaccelerate, or keep him behind me, drop him going down, and then blow myself up every time he closes the gap back to me.  We try both methods, and both are the opposite of awesome.  He's in the six hour open men, so I'm having a hard time not imagining this being our fate for the next five or so hours.  His company is nice from a conversation stand point, but we are riding in an incompatible manner.

I stop after two laps to get fresh bottles, and I'm hoping that the gap between us will naturally open up so we can do our own thing.  It doesn't last.  I'm back on his wheel before I see him fly off the side of a low bridge.  Doh.  He catches back up right before we get to one of the rock gardens.  I look back moments later, and he's just gone.  It's like the rocks ate him whole.

Riding around in circles for hours in a local park type racing is odd like that.

Time is a blur after that marked moment, and the laps fly by.  It just becomes a math problem at that point.  I'm going to have time to do eight laps, and I don't want regrets like I had last year about cutting out at seven with enough time on the clock to go out for eight... and just missing the overall top three (which is pointless, but whatever).  I stopped a couple times asking around for current'ish results, but things weren't crystal clear.  It looked like I'd only need seven to win the single speed class as I'd probably be the only SS'er to squeak in seven before the 1:30PM cutoff, assuming I could keep up the same consistent lap times.  It also looked like I was in the top three overall... mebbe... based on... loose math.

So I told myself, "fine... eight laps."

Which would make it almost an eighty mile ride, my longest time in the saddle since the Mountain Cat 100 months ago.  My attention was turning shit on me, and I was making dumb mistakes.  Like squeezing out my helmet pads on a fast section of the course and dowsing my glasses in sweat.  Then stopping to squirt water on the lenses, but accidentally hosing them with my bottle full of Carborocket 333 mixed with Rocket Red beet juice (not ideal).  I lacked focus, and even though I'd already once caught a pedal on something mysterious in the weeds at the exit of a bridge, I'd forgotten the incident.  This time, on my very last lap, the pedal caught (again?), I lunged forward, and my saddle punched me in the butthole something hard.  Like, "do I need to go to urgent care?" hard.  Like seeing stars but with my brown eye hard.

Of course, with about two miles left, my right quad and hammy started to vibrate in a pre-cramp tango.  I'm convinced it's a mental thing, being that on lap two, I realized I'd brought zero mustard packs.  I was full of cramp anxiety from then on.  So I told myself the cramps weren't real like ghosts and fair elections.  My muscles listened.

I finally finished my eighth lap a little after about six hours of racing.  I took first single speed with Dr Mike coming in right behind me.  I'm glad I went out for that eighth lap, as I was able to snag a pointless, acknowledged only by myself second overall... to a twenty three year old guy who was fast enough to win a car (for a year) racing bikes this summer.

The whole Spoke East crew made out rather well, with Sarah and Nick pulling out a first in the Duo CoEd (and an unacknowledged second overall in the Duo cat), Dr Mike with a second in Single Speed, and Mikey with Best Hematoma.

l-r: Dr Mike, myself, and Too Tall Ryan

Looking forward to getting the Horny Cat 69 humming this weekend.

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