Tuesday, August 30, 2011

getting caught up: black bear, white oak, and the henry clay 30k

WV State Championships Black Bear:

We drive down to Brad the Birdman of Charleston's house on Saturday night. His pitbull attacks us with her cat-like affections and happy butt shaking. We watch Mad Max bounce around on bungee cords while fighting Blaster of Master Blaster in the Thunderdome.

The next morning a silver Audi A4 motor paces us down the road. I get right behind the car to draft. Everytime I get close, the damn driver speeds up. I finally say screw it and drop back. The other single speeders catch me, and we're passed by every class except the ladies.

We hit the gravel climb and I start towing Gunnar back up to the lead group. Near the top of the climb, we make contact with them. I run out of gas, and Gunnar drops me, without even a 'thank you' for that long pull up the hill. I fall back to Don Powers speed. The sky gets angry and slams us with rain and lightening. I hope a tree branch doesn't fall on my head.

An hour later, the sky finally clears. I ride down a few big scary descents and sprint into the finish. First in the single speed class, but not really first single speed. Damn that evil old man Gunnar. I'm not really from West Virginia either, but they give me a big State Champion Mug anyway.

An unknown racer is spotted with markings left by an affectionate female leach. He is teased relentlessly.

White Oak Challenge:

It dumps rain right before the race, but the sun comes out when we stand on the start line. We sprint out on a gravel road and into some slippery single track. I take the lead. Alright, I feel good. I'm going to race well today.

I ride into the start of the one hard rock garden on the course. There's a plant hanging across the trail. I ride through it. It's covered in thorns and almost saws my arm off. "Shit that hurt," I yell. The bend of my elbow is sticky with blood.

The rocks are too slippery to ride, so I jump off and start running.

"Woah woah woah!" yells Gunnar. I think he's still riding, so I move over to let him pass. He runs by me carrying his bike and chuckles. "Heh! I can't believe you let me do that!" Tricky old bastard. I don't see him again for the rest of the day.

The course twists up, down and side to side on the ridge. Most of the trails are smooth and slick from the rain. I drop my chain descending a little hill. Joey Riddle rides past me.

I can't get the chain back on. "You stupid son of a fuck," I say to the bike.

"What did you just call me?" Joey yells back, a little surprised and offended.

"Uh, my bike, I was calling my bike a stupid son of a fuck," I say.

"Try calling it a whore," he says.  

I get the chain back on and finish the race. Third overall, first in the single speed class, but not really first single speed. Damn that evil old man Gunnar.

Henry Clay 30k: 

We start up a road, and I'm dropped again. I make it into the woods something like 10 back. The rest of the start is downhill. The group is moving too fast to attempt a pass, but not fast enough to keep up with Tim de la Garcon. We hit the first little climb, and I swerve around everybody. I see Garcon and the guy in second cresting the top of the hill already. Bummer. They'll be near impossible to catch.

I run up part of the next hill then swoop into some single track. I'm actually riding really well today. I haven't felt this good since the Big Bear Ultra. Since Gunnar is putting on the race, he's not racing today. I finally feel good, and I don't even have a chance to redeem myself by beating the evil old man.

I go back and forth with Steve Rowand all day. He passes me on the wide open big ring sections, and I catch back up when we get back into the woods. Todd Latocha catches me on the last climb up the rail grade, and I pull him up to Steve.

I stay ahead of those two for a while, but eventually they come around me. I spin the last rolling trail into the finish. Fifth overall, first single speed, and really first single speed. Really good race. Everyone else who rolls across the line seems to be in high spirits.

I turn around at the awards so that Gunnar can tuck my prize into the back of my shorts. As I'm walking away, the money falls out of my waist band and scatters all over the ground. People laugh and children cry.

So there. Now I'm blogged up with all those XC races. Sadly, I will not be attending the Shenandoah 100 next weekend. It's just too busy in Ohiopyle land that weekend.

Pisgah Stage Race is coming up really soon (end of September. yikes.). Rob and Brad the Birdman have both signed up, so we'll caravan down and camp together. After the race, I'm writing an article for the Dirt Rag. Hopefully something ridiculous happens so that I have some good material.

And I've been doing some trail work to get things ready for the Ohiopyle Super-D on October 23rd. 1700ish feet of rocky descending in 8 miles. It'll be super sweet. More on that later.

Oh, last order of business. Slag Track tonight!

Frick Park Slag Heaps, 7:00 pm. Bring a gnarly bike. We're doing all the fun stuff tonight.   

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