Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Nine Circles of Hill and Creek to Peak

On Saturday, six of us gathered at the base of the Laurel Mountain for a mini stage race. We had three climbing stages, a few descents, and some rock gardens mapped out.

Despite its soft feminine lines and tiny engine, Don's hatchback Miatta made an excellent camera holder: 

Aaron wrote more about the day, so I'll write less.

In short:
Stick caught a stick in the eye and blinked out one contact which left him "feeling like acid." He refused to pick up the bandanna I found on the road and use it as an eye patch.

Aaron lodged a stick in his front wheel and launched himself over the bars.

John (on one of his first big mountain bike rides) walked most of the Wolf Rocks loop and couldn't believe that the three-mile field of rocks was a trail.

Rob won the coasting race because he's heavier than the rest of us.

Don sprinted down the trail at the start of Wolf Rocks, then abruptly stopped and rolled off into the weeds. His bike continued rolling and a large downed tree rustled. He had sprinted into a very supple branch, and taken it in the chest. We pointed and laughed. He would have done the same for us.

And after I ran out of food two hours in, by hour five I was reduced to foraging for apples in the forest:

(judging by the stares, no one else has ever seen food outside of a grocery store.)

But I did win the super spiffy cogs and hot-glue trophy:

This is quite possibly the most flattering photo ever taken of me. At least I stopped spooning peanut butter out of that big jar.

We ended up with 58 miles, six hours, and 6,000 feet of climbing. Perfect warm-up for the last WVMBA race of the season.

After I got home from the mountain, I sat on the couch and watched Die Hard until 10:30. Before the movie was over I decided to go rebuild my seized pedal so that I could pedal during the big race the next day. I assume Bruce Willis recovered the gold and blew up all the dump trucks.

By 11:30 the pedal was all fixed up and ready to go. I gathered the rest of my stuff, took off my underpants, and went to bed right before midnight.

Rob Loehr, Morgan Miller, and I were all tied going into the last race. I had to win if I wanted to take the series.

Woke up the next day at 4:45. A little groggy from my sub-five hour sleep. I put the fluorescent death machine of doom on the back of the grumbler, and started the four and a half hour drive to Eleanor, WV.

I get all my shit together a couple minutes before the start of the race, then head over to the start.

We sprint away down I gravel road. I tuck in behind the lead train of Gunnar, Steve, and Jeremy Rowand. Gunnar sets the pace and we start to pull away from the rest of the pack. The trail gets super twisty down by the stream and we keep pushing through the trees.

Jeremy gives me a push on the next gravel road, then lets me pass on the next climb. Gunnar and Steve have opened up a little gap. I start chasing.

I put a little bit of time into them on the climbs, but they punch it anytime there's room to shift up. We're into the second half of the lap and the trail is getting a little more technical. Back's sore from all the rock gardens yesterday, but otherwise I feel good.

Gunnar and Steve are a little out of sight now. I start down a steep dirt road. It gets steeper. There's a rut almost three feet deep running down the middle. The dirt is loose and I can't slow down. Shit.

I'm on the left side of the road, and the huge ditch makes a left and cuts off my entire side of the road. Shit shit. I skidding my back wheel but I keep speeding up. Oh hell. This is gonna hurt. I can't stop or turn. I tap my front brake.

"Fucking ass!" I slam into the ditch. I'm disconnected from my bike and rolling head first down the rut. I feel my helmet slam into a rock. Then my shoulder and hip. Helmet again. The rough dirt finally stops me. I lay stunned in the hole for a few seconds. A little dust cloud floats up. Jeremy rolls by. "Dude are you ok?"

"Yeah, yeah I'm great. Dammit. Ow." I say. Everything hurts.

"You sure? Ok, well don't forget your watter bottles." he says. I see both bottles sitting at the bottom of the rut. Somehow I dropped my chain.

I pick up the bottles and put the chain back on. Joey Riddle rolls past me.

I coast down the rest of the hill and try to get myself together. I'm still first in SS, I can't slow down now. I finish the rest of the lap.

Nobody has seen Rob or Morgan yet, so I figure I'm still ok. Marc Glass catches me on the gravel, and we ride together for a while.

"You better go." he says "Benji is right behind us." I thank him and start moving up the hill. Benji isn't in contention for the series, but man I don't want to lose this race now. I prepare myself to ride the big rutted hill of death again.

A few guys marshaling the course direct me to the left. I recognize where I am. Now there's only like three miles left. The course is way shorter than I thought. I start giving it everything I have. Marc catches back up, and is right on my ass when we hit the grass before the finish line.

We sprint the last 100 yards. We're both going all out. Cross the line. I look over and have him by a half a wheel length.

I grab a bottle of water and start scrubbing out the raw flesh on my arm.

"Man when I saw you in that ditch, I though oh shit. He's dead." Jeremy says.

"It was a nice size grave. You shoulda kicked some dirt on me and left me there." I say

"Yeah, but then I woulda felt bad." he says. 


Don said...

Watch out for trees & course ribbon tape on Saturday, because I have no problem knocking a "bionic women" off the course.

Anonymous said...

Key-ryst Montana! How many of your nine lives are left? Don'tcha know pine trees, ditches, and truck-sized boulders generally should be avoided when one races? Perhaps the knock in the head knocked some sense into it...?!

Shred said...

You always win everything. You suck Montanna!

Montana said...

Don't worry. I'll get my ass handed to me in a 'cross race this weekend. I promice

kahlean said...

What happened to your post about being terrible at bike racing? Because sometimes I get the impression that you're terrible at bike racing.

By the way, I don't secretly hate you. If I were to secretly hate you, I would outwardly hate you.