Thursday, April 25

Bootlegger 100 '24

Don't wanna hear a "womp womp" from the gallery, but it seems silly to do a blow-by-blow race post that ends in a precise and mediocre mid-pack 16th place finish in the men's' 50-59 category.

Ooop.  Spoiled alert.

I wasn't looking forward to riding alone with my brain.  Fortunately, my pal Burke had signed up for the hundred mile option that's actually one hundred and seven miles, but who's counting?  I found him at the starting line many rows behind me in the field of 400 plus racers, so he waded through the crowd sans bike to converse.

"I'll slow roll until you catch up, then we ride together... yeth?  I don't want this ride to hurt until it has to."

Burke rolls up eventually, an we both agree it will be nice when the crowd thins out because why trust strangers.  

So that's the thing about garvel racing and why I don't think I'm a "garvel racer." I ride garvel.  The concept of being in a pace line with who knows who, not knowing if they are decent bike handlers (not saying I am) or paying attention or too tired to keep their shit tight.  To quote Cypress Hill, "I ain't going out like that."  My idea of a good garvel ride is three of four friends riding side by side headlong into the wind and never considering the concept of drafting unless someone is near death towards the end of the ride.  It's a combination of "why cheat myself outta fitness?" and "why ride with friends if you can't talk to each other?"

I tend to race garvel in the same manner.

I was going to wait for Burke when we hit the Parkway, because I really don't wanna be alone.  That said, we were climbing and descending at different paces, so the idea of being out there any longer than necessary didn't sit too well with me.  I felt bad, but I knew he'd understand.

So I kinda ended up riding the last seventy or so miles alone... or in the company of strangers wishing I was alone.

Me (center) riding between two chatty riders diving through a corner at some speed.  This is not my happy place, but I did put myself there, so...

Coming off the Parkway and on to the descent down Pineola that gave me hypothermia in 2019, I was being what I thought was overly cautious, but when I saw a squishy forked, fat-tired garvel man lying in the ditch covered in dust, I decided that was implementing just the right amount of caution.

I took a sorta unplanned eleven mile flyer at mile fifty five or so.  I was trying to stay in the dusty air behind a big white pickup going twenty something miles an hour because it felt so Paris Roubaix of me.  No real point to it, but some rather large man (most men seem large to a four apple me) decided to stick to my back wheel.  When we turned left onto Brown Mountain Beach Rd, I saw a group of six or so riders working together, and rather than jump in and save energy, I decided I wanted to blow by them... and the truck.

So, I did that for no particular reason.  In the end, they started working together, and along with the large man and a regular size woman (my size) that I passed after them, they came back and destroyed me.  Oh well.  I got them all back on the slog out of Maple Sally, but who's keeping score?

photo cred: Icon Media Asheville
The other reason I ride garvel other than frands... scenery.  That does not make me special.  We all like to look around, but if I'm bike cycle sport racing, I have a tendency to focus on all the other things.  I'm rarely ever in a hurry on my garvel bike, unless we've decided on a beer stop ahead or we're running outta daylight getting back home from the beer stop.


Braking bumps are one thing.  Either you can see the successive dips or all the bottles dislodged from their cages twenty feet ahead.  But washboards?  Coming down off of Maple Sally, I was not so pleasantly surprised by what I couldn't see but most certainly felt.  I'd considered panic-buying a eeSilk stem a couple weeks ago, but thought better of it.

1. I didn't know if I'd find the time to install, let alone ride it before the Bootlegger.
2. I don't think I'd need it for 99% of the riding I do.
3. It would cut into my tattoo budget.

Those multiple washboards on what by my observations of other Bootleggers are undersized tires were near death experiences.  

On my cycling data acquisition device (CDAD?), I never looked at the time.  I assumed time would not stop or go backwards.  I glanced at the calories, not so much to make informed decisions about fueling my efforts but just outta curiosity.  I occasionally glanced at the mileage, but since I never had a chance to take note of where any of the aid stations are, that information was pretty useless as well.  Most of the time, I was just looking at the map (with no preloaded course) and watching my black triangle move along the green/yellow/orange/climbing segments.  It was like playing a video game, except it hurt more than just my feels.

I also considered that once I was done with this ride, which I was pretty determined to finish, this would stand as my longest ride recorded on STRAVA (since I bought a CDAD in 2019)... probably forever.  It wiped the regretful worst experience ever at the Shenandoah Mountain 100 (actually 101, but who's counting?).  "Probably forever" because I don't know if I like riding my bike for more than six hours at a time any more.  PMBAR doesn't count, because I'm definitely not "riding" the whole time, so don't bother coming at me with that.  Sixty sounds fun, eighty sounds like an adventure, but a hundred seems like proving a thing that I don't know I need to prove anymore.

Well, that is until I do again.

That won't be any time soon.

No comments: