Monday, April 24, 2006

Long race, long race report...

Good times in Duckville Tennessee this weekend. Cohutta was a rip!
This was the kick off to a good year and the reason for training all winter...that and I like to ride in 20 degree weather! The bad part...we had to drive 1100 miles to get our ride on. Jeff and I left Thursday at high noon, hit four or five gas stations and a Shoney's along the way.

Reached Ocoee Whitewater center Friday around 5:00pm to check-in for the race and prepare our drop-bags for the next day. Drop bags were a great idea - riders got three of them and could leave them at any of the six pit-stops along the course. Pit-stops (or sag's) were every 15 miles, loaded with water and heed and the usual gummy bears and m+m's but the drop-bag idea gave competitors the chance to not only place a fuel of choice in the one gallon bag - but also place that bag at the sag of their choice...Brilliant! I chose to fill each of my bags with Perpetuem, bagel, banana, hammer gels and Ibuprophan and placed them at sag 45, 60 and 75.

With the important task of checking-in completed, we hit up some of the trails near Ocoee to shake out our well rested legs. Trails were in great shape - perfect single tracks winding around 4000 ft. peaks, great flow, banked turns, no grunting climbs...this was going to be a FAST race!
Shake-down ride complete, it was time to settle in for the night and eat our weight in Chicken parm. Thanks again to Harvey for the lavish accommodations. I'm accustom to a camp tent and sleeping bag on the night before a race...maybe that was the secret to success at cohutta.

Race began at 7am. A short 2 mile climb up the paved road from Ocoee and we turned in to the woods for 90 minutes of roller-coaster single track. On the trail for just a few minutes I realized my handlebar was loose..Jeff was kind enough to hand off his multi tool out of his jersey pocket. I stopped to tighten the pinch bolt and scrambled to catch up...perfect timing because the main group (including Jeff) turned the wrong way on a road due to confusing cones on the trail..when I was catching up to the group they were coming right at me. I just stood there and handed off the multi tool back to Jeff..I was relieved that I hadn't affected his ride because of my stupidity.

We came out of the single track on a stretch of rolling gravel that we would spend the next six hours. The weather turned ugly and it started to pour. Riding along with three other dudes at this point. We all seemed to be pushing at the same intensity so we teamed up and formed a paceline and attempted to catch the lead group that was just out of sight. The four of us stayed tight for half an hour to widen a big gap from the racers behind us but never saw the lead group. Two of the guys decided to peel off from our group and were dropped. It was just me and a guy named Alex from Michigan. We cranked side by side up and down the gravel road, but nature soon called (in a big way) and I had to stop for a pee break...if only I could master peeing on the bike! That is the true sign of a seasoned racer! Alright, enough about peeing, I was now alone pushing to find Alex or wait till HE had to pee, but he never did. Maybe he's a seasoned racer?

Came upon pit 3 at mile 45, the rain has stopped but now riding in thick fog. Chatted with Namrita who was volunteering at sag 3 while I stuffed my face full of banana. She told me the lead group (including Jeff and Hendershot) were 10 minutes ahead. I really didn't think it was possible, or a good idea to catch them and try to hang at their pace because I would surely blow-up. Headed out of sag 3 feeling good.

Looking through the fog a while later saw another human on the trail..shit, it was Jeff having technical problems with his ride. Broken chain. He had been riding such a fine race that I felt for that brother. Stopped and busted out the park chain tool and paid Jeff back for helping me with my loose bars earlier. We headed out after the repair, nice to be riding with my compadre' Jeff but odd because it had never happened in a race before. Not that we were now racing each other...just riding together fast! Jeff was clearly pissed about having the chain trouble and losing time...we rode together for what seemed like twenty minutes and Jeff made an effort to bridge to the lead group. Before he made his sprint I wished him good luck.

Alone again, sun now coming out, unzipped my jersey and let my pasty white chest show to the passing trucks on the Cherokee wilderness road. Truck and camper traffic on these roads made the fast gravel descents interesting. Played leap frog with a family in an old F150 pulling a pop-up trailer. They'd pass me on a climb and then I would pass on the decent, then be stuck breathing their fumes on the next climb. Went on for a few miles, I don't know if they knew there was a race in progress - think they just thought I was some kind of freak racing them on my bike.

The guys at pit four may have saved my race. The guy had a can of aerosol lube and without me saying anything grabbed my bike and lubed my drivetrain. Sweet! The other two (who were each about 12 and 14 years old) filled my bottle and handed over my drop-bag. I ate the advil and banana but nothing else. The perpeteum I'd been sucking on the last 60 miles was working it's magic.



Full sunshine now, hammering the climbs and descents. Looking down at my bare - steel frame covered in surface rust from the a.m. showers. I just laughed and tried to pick a color in my mind to powder coat her when I got back...I'm thinking lollipop blue.

Then I caught a glimpse of Jeff up ahead. It had been a while since He'd made his attempt at the lead group. Things didn't go as planned and Jeff was in the pain cave. Never good to see a close friend in the cave but Jeffrey is a tough dude and found a way to work through his bonk.

The end of the race I paid a visit to the cave. The last 12 miles was on the rolling single track that we'd begun the race 8 hours earlier. I knew this was it and didn't want to be passed in the final few miles by someone sneaking up from way back. Gulped down some calories and mashed the pedals till it was all over. Ended up in 7th place overall at around 8h 24m. Jeff recovered nicely in 8th place 6 minutes behind me.

The top ten skinny white men


5 comments:

Jason said...

Andy,
great write up! Check the dude in the I hate Mark Hendershot T!! Ral nice.

J

JB said...

I love race reports. Great ride by you and Jeff. Enjoyed the wirteup too.

As far as the color - I vote for rust! It looks nice that way. The should be able to powder coat it something close - "New England Rust Brown" or whatever.

Good Job, well done

George said...

Well done! Best get some paint on that rust box....

Andy said...

she is off to the powder coater today!

Buddy said...

Nice job dude. Good write up as well.

Buddy