"How rough is that course?"
"Pretty rough. Standard Davis riding," said the Birdman.
I figured that meant that it was pretty rough. And standard riding for West Virginia. I underestimated a little.
"Go!" I sprint down a bumpy dirt road next to the river. Spinning as fast as I can, but I still can't quite keep up with the front group. On the first section of single track, riders bunch up. I hop onto a few wooden bridges, try to make some hairball passes, smash my chainring into some rocks.
The group is cracked apart now. I'm riding with JPok, Big Henry Spreng, and some other guy. As one rider makes a mistake, we do the shuffle. None of us can get away from the rest. Everybody keeps saying that it's way drier than usual, but the rocks on the trail are still soaked and slimy.
Some mountain laurel snags my handlebars. I try to ride through it. It swings my bike to the right, and I slam into the soft dirt. Dammit. My pack of three starts to ride away. I jump up and chase after them. Can't let those guys go.
The guy in front rides into a shallow looking mud puddle. His bike stops, buried up to the hubs. He gets off, and sinks past his knees. Almost loses a shoe. Perfect. I hop off my bike, skirt the puddle, and attack up the steep run-up.
I finally drop the little group. Solid. Benji is the only single speeder still ahead of me, and there's a big gravel climb coming up. Should be able to catch him there.
Down the Mountainside, Meatside, or Morningside descent. It's so rough. Thousands of little sharp rocks. If I don't pedal, my bike bounces to a stop.
There's a guy fixing a flat. "Need anything?" I ask.
Then there's hissing, and I feel sealant spray onto my leg. Shit. I stop next to the guy, and we fix our flats together.
People start passing me. JPok goes by. In 3rd now. Then Gunner, then Dahn Pahrs. Damn. This is serious now. Don't panic. You can make up the time. The bead of my tire flops off the rim, sealant covers my gloves. Fuck. It's cool. You're fine.
I inflate the tire, and start down the trail again. I have the pressure in the tire up so that it doesn't pinch flat. Riding the thing is almost unbearable now, I'm bouncing around so much. Some guy squirms in front of me and crashes into a log. I swerve left to dodge him.
Onto the gravel road climb. I go as hard as I can. I've gotta make up some time. Near the top, I can see Powers. Turn onto the single track, and keep climbing. It's slower going now. I'm really regretting not putting a smaller gear on.
Finally hit the top of the climb. And lose the trail. Son of a bitch. I walk around in the woods in circles for a few minutes. Where the hell is it? Betsy rides up behind me.
"Betsy, I can't find the damn trail."
"Oh, well it has to be around here somewhere," she says. Sue Haywood is right behind her. "Sue, where's the trail?" Betsy isn't at all distressed. She sounds like she can't find a spoonful of sugar for her tea.
"Right here," Sue keeps riding. The trail is on top of a weird spine on the outside of the stream bank. Of course. We're riding through a gently descending stream bank now. Every time I get some momentum, a big mud puddle or pile of rocks stops me. Betsy and Sue are rolling down the hill, and I can't keep up. They're just floating away. I sink into another mud hole. God this is discouraging. How are they rolling so much faster?
Now I'm alone in the woods. I'm still moving forward, but probably not very fast. My bike keeps bouncing to a stop. And bouncing to a stop. And sinking into a mud hole. Such slow going.
|Apparently there was a section of smooth trail at some point. I don't remember it.|
I ride another hour in a half-daze until I hear a rider behind me. That wakes me up, and I hit it. Four miles to the finish. Back across the bridges, through a trail that doesn't actually have a clear path. I'm just riding through the woods, connecting yellow blazing to yellow blazing.
I roll across the finish. I'm so sore, I can barely get off my bike. My back feels like it's going to explode.
Not a good race. But I wasn't the only one with issues. Cinder Bloch dropped out 15 miles in. The Birdman broke his shoes, another set of Crank Brothers pedals, and had to use a rock to fix both. Mayor McCheese had four flats on Mountain/Meat/Morningside Trail, all within the space of a hundred feet.
So you may wonder, who didn't have issues? Dahn Pahrs. Dahn Pahrs had no issues. Or, in his words: "DAHN PAHRS! WIN! Glad Dahn Pahrs skipped Peanut Butter Festival, because Dahn Pahrs the fastiest here!" Bastard.
I learned a few things from that race. Don't bring a used bicycle to Davis. It will break. Brand new equipment only. "Pretty typical" in Davis means extremely jarring. Not super technical like Michaux, but way more of a beating. Hellbender's burritos are good, but I still don't like Mexican food.
And burning pallets makes most of that ok: