Coming Up Eights...
Mid Atlantic Super Series, 6 Hour Enduro #2
Part of the VisitPA.com Mountain Bike Stage Race Festival
Marysville, PA, July 1, 2006
I chose to stay home Friday night and sleep in my own bed rather than camp Friday night, so I got up before dawn and hauled my ass out to Marysville, PA Saturday a.m.
Arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare, so I got all my pit supplies down to the course and then got the bikes ready. I would be using the Dos Niner for this one with the El Santo in the pits if needed in an emergency.
9:50 a.m.- Brief riders meeting followed by class leg marking. They had their biggest Enduro field ever with over 40 racers! There were only 23 at French Creek back in April. There was some real talent in the field too including certain race favorite Rob Lichtenwalner from Bear Naked/Cannondale as well as fellow blogger- friend Fat Marc doing his first solo endurance race.
On the line looking at God-knows-what. (Photo: www.dennisbike.com)
10:00 a.m.- WE'RE OFF! Some folks took off like a bat-outta-hell. Not this cat, not my style. I didn't pre ride the course and figured I'd get to know the course before I started trying to do too much.
The course was about 7.5 miles long and pretty fun. It had a lot of tight single track, a TON of logs, and some tricky climbs. There were a couple grassy sections that kinda sucked since they were still a bit bogged down from the previous week's down pours but doable.
The first lap was pretty slow, with me getting to know the course, and trying to get 40+ Enduros plus the Beginners Class (that started behind us) into single track. I was diggin' the course though and just kept a nice pace.
Some of the course goodness: Photo by: Ed McDaniel
LAPS 2 & 3 - I picked up my pace now and seemed to be riding alone a lot except for leap frogging riding with Spot Paul-from Fat Marc's Spot Posse. (we would do this a lot during the race and it was nice to have someone cool to ride with. Although I think Paul was trying to catch a draft off of me. (HA! You had to be there).
I was starting to get a bit more relaxed and a flow for the course. Once I started to let my 29er wheels just "do their thing", getting over obstacles and some of the sketchy climbs, the ride got much better and I started having fun with the course. Except for one pile of rocks on a short down hill that I NEVER rode. Choosing not to risk the slightest chance of injury to bike/self for one stinking pile of rocks.
LAP 4- Still feeling pretty good, but feeling the heat a bit now. No worries, just keep pushing on. The rear wheel felt a bit wobbly on one of the final climbs, like I might be loosing some air, but I put it out of my mind till I found a secluded place to throw a wiz. After I wizzed and tucked properly I felt my tire. DOH! I was right, loosing air! Damn! Must be a slow leak though since there is plenty of air in it, just SOFT, so I rode it into the pit.
As soon as I enter the pit area, I flip the Dos and get a tube. Another racer (either an Expert waiting for his start or another Enduro on a break comes over overs me his floor pump and says "go take it easy, I'll take care of it" (legal in pit) I didn't feel right letting him do it all, but his assistance and use of the pump was the bomb! He put my wheel on and that gave me a chance to get a fresh bladder of HEED and towel off with a rag I had soaking in ice water. I wish I would have got the name of the kat that helped me and thanked him proper, of course I did see him on course later and gave another shout of thanks, he just said "no worries, glad to help".
LAP 5- Felt good to have the flat taken care of, one bladder empty and one bladder full as I headed out for lap 5. Stomach was feeling aces even though I had yet to take on "real food". I was using a special secret blend of of Perpetuem and Hammer Gel to fuel with and it was working great. I find that doing Perpetuem/Gel mix in a bottle rocks! It's the whole "two birds/one stone" crap. One squirt of a bottle a couple times a lap and I get proper calories in the belly with out carrying 3 different bottles and bladders to try to suck down.
LAP 6- The Dos Niner was working great! Rolling fast and once again reaffirming my belief in the 29er. I can't believe I scoffed at them at first (I'm so ashamed). The chain was a bit dry at this point and could have used some lube but I hated to waste time in the pits.
Rolling out for #6 I spied Josh West (fellow Bikeman.com racer) chatting to someone near the start/finish line, so I gave him a tap on the back as I rode off and we shouted hellos. Still yet to actually talk to Josh. I did see him out on course later. At least this race when I saw him I was riding my bike. At French Creek everytime I saw him I was walking a hill.
Things were getting a bit slower for me now, but not too bad (I've been worse see Hardore 24 race report). The Experts were on course now so I pulled over many times to let them fly by. All were greatful for letting them on through and many recognizing me as an Endurance racer and gave "props" and encouragement. As many racers can't imagine racing for 6+ hours I'm often amazed at how the Experts/Semis/Pros just keep it pegged for TWO hours.
Things were getting hazy now. Was I on lap #5 or #6? Did I do that section near the creek yet? Yeah, I did. Oh no wait, no I didn't, here it comes! I also found myself cursing my brother for telling my about a bumper sticker he saw recently that said: "Bea Arthur. Be Naked" (eeewww). ANYway, everyime I saw a Bear Naked / Cannondale racer THAT would pop into my head. I want NO PART of a naked Bea Arthur.
I got to the pit and asked for a time check and see what lap I was on. They said it was like 5 hours, ?? minutes and I just finished #6 and was heading out for #7. They added that if I hurry I could get in eight laps. Hmmm. GAME ON!
I had no idea where I was in the standings. Trutfully I didn't want to know. My goal after the Hardcore 24's DNF was to 1. Finish and 2. Ride MY race and do the best that I could poissible do.
LAP 7- If was on! I was hammering whenever and wherever I could. I was making the muddy climbs, sprinting on foot through the low lying grassy mud bogs and doing my best.
Feeling good, Putting the hammer down. Photo by: unknown.
At one point I hooked up with Spot Paul again. He asked if I was going out for an 8th lap (we were both on #7) I tell him "if I make it, hell yeah!".
Getting out for an 8th lap wasn't about beating Paul or anyone else. It was about ME, doing what I needed to do to know that at the end of the race I did EVERYTHING I could do.
As I entered the finishing area underneath the blessed Red Bull arch I sprinted to the line. Asked how much time????? "You're at 5:59, you got 1 minute!!" YIKES!!! One minute. I was out of Heed, Gels, Pepetuem etc., I had more in my pit bag but the scorers were adiment that I neeeded to be OUT of the pit or the lap wouldn't count. So I said "fuck it", got on the Dos and off I went....
LAP 8 - As I exited the pit and started up the grassy hill, the realization that I had nothing left but a few sips of warm Heed in my pack hit me hard with the late afternoon sun beating down on me. I spied a woman with a cooler by the trail and asked if she had any exta water. She glady offered me a fresh bottle of water, stuffed it in my jersey pocket as I left and wished me luck. (Thanks Extra Water Lady!!!)
Out on course I knew I was spent, but I din't care a bit. I wanted that eighth lap an I got it!! I puttzed arround the course happy in knowing I pushed that 7th lap hard and got what I wanted.
Spent, hopping over a double log pile b*tch. Photo by: Ed McDaniel
I just kept plugging along and then as I got to the top of one of the final climbs a dude passes me (Expert finishing up) shouts out "HEY, SOILED CHAMOIS!!" As he passes he says he checks out the blog and I shout out a thanks. That was pretty cool.
As I made my way back towards the finish I was picking up the pace now and feeling good about pulling eight laps.
I crossed the line, sat down and chugged a Gatorade down. Life is good.
I finished in 8th place out of about 35 Male Enduros. The top two pulled 9 laps (Rob Lichtenwalner of course won) and 6 racers pulled 8 laps with me being one of them. Sweet!
I think I'm more thrilled with this performance than anytime I got on the box (and those are VERY few). Everything went well. The Dos Niner ran great, my stomach held up, my brain held up (sort of), and I pushed myself hard at the end, not for placing, but just to know I did EVERYTHING I could. Dudes are fast. Endurance racing is hard. THAT is what makes it great. I'll gladly take 8th place knowing it was a big field of fast racers and I gave it my all.
This was a well run race with some great folks. Shouts out of thanks to Bikeman.com and Salsa for the kick ass Dos Niner, I couldn't have asked for a better frame to tackle a 6 hour race. Lazer for a lid that felt freaking great on my noggin for over 6 hours, Six-Six-One for some fine gloves and socks (funny thing about the socks- I've worn Smartwool Socks for EVERY race I've done in like the past 4 years 'cause I thought they were good luck- NO MORE! Socks-shmocks, just ride in what feels good)
Also thanks to Fat Marc and his crew for letting me hang with them post race. Made being at a race sans B-Man and Wifey real easy and a LOT of fun. Speaking of Marc congratulations are in order for his 5th place podium finish! Good job dude!
Time for a few weeks off of racing and let the body recover and train for the next one.
It was all about the Eights. I was number 288, did 8 laps and finished 8th.