Friday, February 13, 2009

Playing Catch-Up

Yeah, so I pretty much suck at this. But I will try to make it up to you. Only I probably won't. But you don't have to grieve any longer, because I will now present you with my thoughts.

Hmmm... well a couple weekends ago was the Icycle. I hooked up with Brandon at 6 in the morning and we loaded up and headed towards Fontana. We got there and he registered, and then we went up to the cabin with Brandon's friends from Virginia Tech. We sat around for a while and chit chatted, and then everyone started getting dressed for the XC race. I wasn't planning on racing the XC, only the night DH, but I had some training to do. So I got suited up to, and I planned to ride all day until the night downhill, then race it. Everyone loaded up in cars and headed down to the race start. I got on my bike and headed up the mountain. I was riding the Jamis Dakar XLT, so I was struggling to stay in my zones as I headed up the really steep hill. I got to the top of the downhill, and proceeded (preceded?? uh oh haha) to rip down the mountain. The course was super fun, really fast with some cool jumps and two hard switchbacks at the end. I enjoyed it a lot, and I looked forward to racing it.

I went back up to the venue to watch the start. They weren't ready to go yet, so I decided to ride a little of the course backwards. As I went down the grassy hill at the start, my tire buzzed against my frame. Ooh... that's not good. I got down and looked at the bike, and realized. OH CRAP.

The chainstay of the Jamis was snapped completely in half. Right at the weld. I was PRETTY sure a little spit and duck tape wasn't going to fix this little mechanical. I walked back up the top, and showed the chainstay to everyone clustered around. There were plenty of jokes to go around, people calling it "an extra pivot point" and "a kickstand". Hahah well that wasn't going to help me for my downhill race. Brandon VERY kindly proposed that I ride his bike after his XC race. I was VERY thankful he was going to let me do that. See, Brandon has this awesome Santa Cruz Heckler. When he got done with his XC race he swapped shoes with me and I was off. The saddle height was perfect, the shocks were set up beautifully. All I had to do was drop the air pressure in the tires just a little bit. His bike climbed better than any full suspension 30lb bike should. I was impressed.

The rest of the day I continued to ride either the trails or the road up to the top of the DH course, then I would bomb down it. I was getting a little faster every time, and I was really starting to get my line choices figured out. My max speed kept creeping up, and I finally hit 32 mph on this singletrack downhill. It was so much fun. I kept riding and riding, only stopping to eat a peanut and honey sandwich or some chili every now and then. It finally started getting dark, so I put on my lights and headed up to the top to do a light-check. The deal was, every racer had to come through and do a practice run with lights on. I went for my first run, everything went smoothly, but I needed to re-position my helmet light. Once that was done, I went up for one more practice run before the final. As I was going down the trail, there was this big sweeping left hand turn, and the ground dropped off on the right. As I was going around the turn, I was going too fast, so the bike kept drifting to the outside. It finally went to far, and the front wheel started to slip over the edge of the trail. As I realized I was going down, I looked ahead and saw I was heading right towards a tree about 3 inches in diameter. oh crap. I jumped off the bike and went tumbling down the trail, as the bike slammed handlebar-first into this tree at 25 mph. As I stood up, dazed, I expected to look back up the trail and see Brandon's carbon handlebar shattered, the bar light smashed into a million pieces, and the wheels mangled. Instead I saw the tiniest little scratch, and his remote lockout lever had broken off. That is a 20 dollar fix, not a 200 dollar fix. I was thanking my lucky stars at that point.

I still had a race run to do, however. I jumped on the bike, and caught the last shuttle up before they started sending riders off. I got to the top and sat there for about 45 minutes as rider after rider went off. Finally, they came to the sport class racers. I lined up, and got ready to go. When the clock struck 38:00, I took off down the mountain. It was a beautiful run, I felt great, and I was absolutely flying. The way the course ended was really neat. You were flying by yourself through the woods, and its dark, with only your lights to guide you. All of the sudden, you make a left hand turn and hit a BIG jump. This sends you flying into the air, and all of the sudden there are people screaming, camera flashes going off, and you can see the finish line down in a grassy area below the woods. It was a cool effect. If only that was the end. After the jump you had a berm, then the first and trickier of the two switchbacks. I came into the switchback WAY too hot, and endoed right in the middle of it. I jumped up, grabbed my bike, and then used my cyclocross skills to jump back on and sprint back up to speed. I sprinted all the way across the line, and just hoped for the best.

When results got posted, I was 4th. less than 3 seconds behind 1st place. Dangit. I learned my lesson about taking chances during a race. Oh well, it was one of the most fun weekends I've had in a while. I came away with a bloody knee and a bruised thigh, not too bad for the crashes I took. It was fun.

The next day I hooked up with a group of guys including Alan, Rob, and Duckman, who were all going to do a ride from ETSU out to Spivey Gap and back. We headed out with about 12 or so people, and people dropped off, and dropped off, and dropped off, and dropped off, until it was just me and Rob heading back from Erwin to ETSU, with both of us extremely tired and me about to bonk. Fun stuff. We finally made it back, with either for 4 hours or 4.5 hours of ride time and almost 70 miles. I was le tired. Good weekend.

Today was another interesting road ride. I rode home from school, over Buffalo to Limestone. About 24 miles, its a really nice ride, I saw maybe 15 cars the whole time (once I got out of Johnson City of course). While I was in Johnson City, I had some interesting first-time experiences. As I was rolling through the VA, I had my first near-death experience when a lady opened her car door in front of me. I swerved to avoid that, and my mountain biking skills came in handy when I ran through a pothole. Not 2 minutes later, a really stupid young-looking girl misjudged my speed (i was going about 20mph) and pulled out in front of me. I slammed on my brakes and almost went through her rear window. Fun. As I passed by where the Thursday night ride starts, I reached down to get a drink, then started to put the bottle back and I dropped it. I thought this only happened to noobs, but I was wrong. I laughed at myself, then realized that my only water was probably about to get run over. The bottle sat in the middle of the road for about 3-4 minutes as 30+ cars came by, narrowly missing my valuable water supply. I was super lucky and got a chance to dash out and grab it and then got back on my way. Shew. Dodged a bullet there.

When I got over the backside of buffalo I noticed something. It seemed like someone had put an I9 wheel out by their mailbox!



I really want one. That's sweet!

Yep, it was a good day. I also hadn't eaten lunch, so I was bonking. I came home and ate a metric crapton. Granola, rolls, hamburgers, veggibles, sweet potato fries. Yum. Good stuff.

Well faithful readers, it is time for me to head to bed.
By my troth, I am off.
Wes

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