Monday, July 31, 2006

Jay Peak - Race Report

This year I felt confident to go back and face my demons at Jay Peak. Two years ago this race beat me to a pulp..Uncontrollable cramps that forced me to the fetal position and cry for mama on the finish line. That painful memory had faded but I knew this year was going to be a real ass-kicker. As I type on the keyboard my back side feels like I went 3 rounds with Hulk Hogan as he kicked me no less than 900 times with steel toe boots square in the buttock...that's what I get for riding a hardtail for 8 hours in northern Vermont singletrack.

Jen, Jeff, Bronte and I rolled up to Sarah and Mike's place in central Vermont on Friday. Extremely nice of the Jordans to feed us a home cooked meal and let us crash the night. Mike has been training for the Jay mtb race for the better part of 2006 and by the looks of him at the finish, with a big smile on and a beer in hand his training was a success.

Didn't know what to expect of the race course after driving through couple of full-on down pours but they turned out to be localized flooding. (Yeah, the sides of dirt roads washed away down four feet on each side!)
So after eating peanut butter and banana sandwiches for dinner we called it a night and the dreams (more like nightmares) of descending down Jay Peak unraveled from my tired cerebellum. I had time to summon memories from my 2004 experience on Jay and the troubles I got my self into. I vowed never to be in that much pain EVER again so I laid in my motel bed calculating my strategy... to eat lots of bananas and cliff bars and drink gallons of Gatorade and water the entire race was the master plan...sounds easy right?

The morning was upon us, Jeff took charge of instant coffee and oatmeal. We ate up and nervously headed down to the start line (which was directly three flights down - schweet!). Start of the race was delayed for 30-45 minutes, when Dan (the race organizer) stood on a table with a megaphone announcing the pre-race info he again reiterated how brutal the last 12 miles were going to be...sorry was the final 22 miles for me. Then Dan told of us of Tinkers' bad luck with the stupid Airline losing his bike!?

The race starts and It's my kind of race! 200+ mountain bikers lumber out of the start gate and proceed to climb Jay Peak. No hurry or sprinting. Just a friendly ascent for 40 minutes. I was surprised to be in the top ten on the summit along with Jeff. Legs felt great, no burn. Heart rate through the roof (180+) all the way to the summit.

Now for the decent. Took it very conservatively remembering my thoughts just hours before. I love to rip down mountains but prefer to do it on a downhill rig with pads and a full face helmet. My ass was hanging soo far back it may have touched (more than once) on the rear tire. The smell of burning brake pads in the air and screeching rotors could be heard from every direction. It was on!

The 40 minute ascent took 5 minutes to descend back to the tram house and rip past spectators on our way out'a town and points unknown. Jeff had let it loose on the downhill from Jay and was tearing up the stretch of hilly asphalt that was the race course. We turned into the woods after a brief stretch on the road and I lost sight of Whittingham. We were united a little while later about mile thirteen on a tight and twisty jeep road heading downhill at about 30-35 mph. Might have been the most fun I'd have all day..Hard-packed dirt double track and banked corners. Hooting and hollering we ripped up the jeep trail, this was great...then a rear flat. Jeff offered assistance but I was prepared for such emergencies. Two competitors sped by as I threw a tube in my rear wheel and inflated.

Back on course within 3 minutes I caught up with Alec (one of the guys that past me). We rode together for a while in search of the elusive Mr. Whittingham. Alec (who I called Alp D'hez) is a self proclaimed roadie who just came back from riding the Alp D'hez stage two weeks ago. Cool! So Alp and I traded off pulling for a while but I lost him at an aid station. Drinking and eating was the plan and I had help on course by none other than a guy that knows this race. Mr Harry Precourt was an essential part of the rest stops. Harry was at every damn stop shoving cliff bars at me and filling my bottles and camel back. Who's the man? - Harry's the man. I know he'd rather be racing on the bike with all of us but after running the mountain marathon the previous day (not to mension hiking 2200 + miles on the A-T) he was taking it easy and helping Whit and myself.
Some great winding single-track through out this race with burley granny gear climbing. I rode along side another competitor for hours, nick-named him flower-power due to his flowered shirt (real name Tyler Merritt). Flower power and I had some good times out there, at that point I couldn't give a shit if he past me or if I past just didn't seem like a race for a big portion of this ride.

Lots of concentration needed in the woods to keep it rubber side down, the road was a welcome sight after any of the numerous wooded sections...and vice verse when it came to the road. Some road (and dirt road) sections were brutally hot and long. But nothing as much as the final dirt road ascent that seemed to last for ever.

It was Shortly before the final ascent that Jeff and I met back up at aid station 10. It was classic..meeting back up for the first time in hours, Alp D'hez right on my tail with Flower power closing in...The ladies, Jen and Sarah and her kids there..Mike Precourt shooting mad amounts of pictures with a high tech camera.

It was now the four of us; Alec, flower-power, Jeff and myself...and now it was a race again. Didn't want to get dropped on the dirt roads but didn't want to push it to the point of puke knowing Dan's advice on this section. Forced another cliff bar, spilt more red Gatorade down my gullet and mushed on up the road in our four person train. Alp opened a gap 3/4 up the mountain but this hill seemed endless..I didn't want to attack till the decent but was forced to respond to this now 20 sec. advance by Alp D'hez. I left Jeff and the now ailing flower power to attempt to grab Alp's wheel. Didn't make the pass till the bottom of the decent in the woods..perfect timing. Put on the after-burners in a muddy bog-crossing and stood on the pedals up and over a small rise. Alp was history.

After a ridiculous hike-a-bike section (where I was cursing Dan's name numerous times) with a stream crossing under a bridge? and through the golf course it was just Jeff and I. That brother was back! Alp and Flower Power no where to be seen. Couldn't have planned this grudge match better...this was after all a grudge match between friends. Earlier this year I beat Jeff down in Tennessee and then he beat me in Ohio. This was the final tie breaker that turned into a tie for third place over all. I had hopes for a top five finish but didn't think it would be here at Jay... What a day. Couldn't have predicted such an event in a million years.

After the awards Jeff and I hung around and talked to David Tinker Juarez about RAAM and 24 hour racing. He's a down to earth guy that just rides his bike - alot. David was phyced to race at Jay and was let down by the airlines' screw up...he did however have plans to ride the course on Monday when/if his bike arrived. He'd just follow the dirt marks left behind by 250 riders. Good plan...wish my legs had some power left for a ride with the legend but that simply wasn't the case.


jeff said...

Having Harry out there was awesome stuff - a huge boost. he chewed-up the marathon course, then the next day he looks like he was sleeping all day sat!

the jay was the toughest of the yr - like you said, more "moments", too many to really count.

(dan may do a 100miler for '07)

JB said...

Awesome ride by you guys. You and JW are riding the ROCKSTARS this year!

That's a story to tell the grandkids.


IF Chicks said...

Hey..where is the picture of this infamous basketball that you both have joint custody of ???

Great report. Congrats to Andy, Jeff, Dr Mike and Harry(runner & support dude)!!!

It musta been a hard race if Andy had to use his granny gear !

rick said...

nice job. maybe some day I'll hit it up.

Jason said...

Grear race an write up. You two are on fire man! Nice pict with Tinker too. That would have been sweet. jm

Buddy said...

Well done. Is the Shenandoah on your schedule?


Andy said...

hope so..gotta sign up quick before the price goes up another $15.00

just waiting to see if I can re-arrange some family obligations...doesn't look good though.