Well here we go. The Fall Epic8. Instead of a long pre-amble about the pre-ride (cuz I bored you with that last week!!), let's get right into it!
Giant, Lois, and I pull into Hardwood, the race venue....and start to set up our camp/pit area. But it's windy, and the pit keeps blowing over. It's supposed to look like this...
Eventually we get set up....kind of. Giant wanders over to the paddock, I hurry to get my kit on, and head to the paddock, to Lois' "Have a great race, Superman!!". I feel like...
Until I get to the paddock....then I'm...
Yeah, I'm stuck towards the back of the paddock....damn it!! In many races it's not a big deal to start farther back...in this one it would be. This was one of the most well attended 8 hour races I have ever been in (seriously, there was far more traffic on the course throughout the day than I have ever experienced), which is a great thing for our sport....just not ideal to be behind it all right off the start.
This was it...
There were my friends/competition/evil masters of the universe....Giant, serious, Martin, GarryS....all towards the front... They would be ahead of the bottlenecks....I would be in them. You may think that a few minutes lost off the start isn't a big deal over the course of the day...but when you are dealing with racers who are as fit, or more fit, as fast, or faster than you a five minute head start can be forever. And this was a course built for speed...there was really nothing technical to even the playing field.
Anyways, wow...that was a long whiny rant...but I am too lazy to go back and delete it, so....BOOM! We were off! As I am a notoriously slow starter, I made a conscious effort to go hard and work to pick my way through the mass of riders as quickly as possible. Well, quick is a relative term, of course....and since the first 4 -5 km of this course was a gradual climb, it didn't help. My heart rate shot quickly to 165...which is huge for me....and stayed there for the first two laps!
Anyways...did get caught in a bottleneck or two of course, but made it through lap one....through the tunnel (damn...forgot to holler in the tunnel!!), by our pit where Lois was taking pics as we passed....
Oooops....sorry, that's not me....not sure who that could be...
While I'm at it....
serious...overtaking some unsuspecting soul..
Ooops! Who is that??
Anyways....all of the laps start to blur together...but things kind of happened like this...
Around lap 2 or 3...not sure which, I catch up to serious....and after a couple of attempts I pass him. This is a major accomplishment for me...this guy is fast!! He must be having an off day...I know my own abilities....and I'm not as egotistical as this guy...
Around lap 4 or 5...not sure which, I'm on the wheel of a rider, looking for an opportunity to pass, when he goes over the bars on a small log over. I'm following too close and I endo over top of him.
I land, on my bars giving me a nasty charlie horse on my right quad....and pop the ribs that are just beginning to heal from being damaged in the tree collision in the last race. Damn...I continue on with each breath now causing a complaint from the ribs....and the quad cramping around the charlie horse...
Lap 5 or 6 I pull into the pit to grab more food. I ask Lois, "Do you know how I am doing?" She replies, "You are currently in second, a few minutes behind Martin." What?? Seriously?? I am in second!!?? "But...", she continued, "You are just a minute and change ahead of third place." Ah....I replied, "That would be Tom." (serious) I better get the heck going....
Lap 6 or 7 I'm toddling along....the suffering is starting to set in...and Hal passes me. On his singlespeed. Chatting away, like he is sitting for tea and a biscuit. I ask him if he is racing singlespeed or solo. Solo, he says....and drops me like an anchor. Damn. I'm now in third.
And as I mentioned, the suffering is starting to set in. I have to keep stretching the charlie horse to keep it from cramping. And the damaged ribs are creating a sympathy cramp in the upper back between the shoulder blade and spine. And crepitus can be a bit disquieting...literally... And for whatever reasons...I can't get two songs out of my head; Lola...and Fat Bottomed Girls. What did I encounter on the trail to subconsciously put those in my head???
Anyways....the suffering created a bit of a dislike for hitting the start/finish transition zone. Because it meant that the climb from the start began....for the first 4 -5 km of every lap. I didn't so much mind the climbs between the "3km to go", and the "2km to go" signs....they were almost kind of flowy....and there were a couple of steep doubletrack climbs that were ok cuz they were short and gave a good opportunity to pass.
But the entire course was worth the last km...a bmx style downhill with fun steep berms, and a few rollers with an opportunity to catch some air...(this is where ApexTed was camped out for the day...where he used his ninja skills to make me look fast!!)
Wait....who is that last pic?? Who keeps photobombing my post??
Giant kept photobombing pics too...
I guess it's OK...he has a cool goatee....like this guy...
Anyways...back to the race...at some point JeffS passed me shouting as he normally does...Oggie passed me shouting something unintelligible (probably something political....he's like that); JC cheered me on through the transition zone a couple of times...as did Pinoy (PinoyPedalPushers had quite a contingent out on this day!).
Also, the R&R solos had a pit and everytime I passed by they cheered me on. Thank you!!
I enjoyed shouting like a fool everytime passing through the tunnel, not only because it was juvenile and fun...and scared the heck out of any riders near me...but it let Lois know I was approaching the pit, so she could be ready with a new waterbottle, cookie, or a quick pole dance...anyways...
So...at lap 7 or 8...not sure which, I pass through the transition zone and start up the loooong gradual start climb...when I pass serious who is just pulling out of his pit (his pit was on the start climb). What the heck??!! When/how did he get ahead of me?? Must have been while I pitted. Anyways...he passed me up the climb....I pushed but couldn't hold him. Damn. Damn. I was now in fourth. Damn.
Lap 10...about 6.5 hours into the race, I pit quick to grab food. Lois says, "You are 2 minutes behind Martin, who is now in third place." Means, serious and Hal are now in first and second. But two minutes....I still had time to catch him. I had time for two more laps, maybe three with a miracle.
So...lap 11 I bury myself to catch him. I attack every climb, push it to the edge on sketchy switch backs. My heart rate over 160 the entire lap. And I had a younger solo racer on my tail the entire lap, pushing me, which helped. The ribs and charlie horse are both screaming. Fly through the pit and Lois calls out, "You are now 1.5min back!!" Oh boy...I only gained 30 seconds. Into lap 12...
I pushed again...and depleted every ounce of what little I had left after lap 11. Through lap 12, up the final climb to the top of the bmx zone, there is Emily Batty cheering me on (seriously, really...I have no idea what else she may have been doing there, but she was there), and she yelled, "You have 5 minuted to get one more lap in!!" I said, "If only I had your speed!" She replied, "It doesn't look like you need it!" Hah!! I wish. Honestly, that is literally how it went down. Then I'm sure in the breeze I heard, "Preacher!!! I love you!"....but I was pretty delirious at that point.
Anyways....through the bmx zone and into the start/finish line. I had 33 minutes to get one more lap it....but that wasn't going to happen after 12 laps. Although Fig sprinted past...he was going to try to get one more lap in...wow....go Fig!! I was done....12 laps. I finished in 4th place.
Although I was disappointed at being so close, but still off the podium the truth is that this was my best 8 hour race ever. CoachRob has me more prepared and fit than I have ever been. It's amazing what a difference a properly structured training plan can make (especially when you actually follow it!). He also has coached me down to 170lbs...the leanest I have been since I can remember...I believe I can get to 165....then the goal is to hold that.
Something like that.
So...how did everyone else fare??
Wait, what?? Who is that???
Giant came in third. John was second to Eric Batty....second to a pro....not bad!!
JeffS and his daughter KT tag teamed to second...second to Emily Batty/Adam Morka....a pro team...very good!!!
JC tag teamed to third,
Oggie's 3 person team came in first!!
Fig did get that last lap in for 14 laps!!
BobM...in his first ever Solo8 hour....11 laps!! Well done!!
Mark and JennR 4th on a 3 person mixed team with 14 laps....nice!!
Hal was first, serious second....both riding singlespeeds in the solo cat.
Martin was third!
I got my 100k pin...
The lovely Vanna holding the pin in front of me....and you notice all the famous people in the background??
Another note...Jerehmiah had to call it quits after 11 laps with a nasty crash. Heal soon, sir!!
14stone didn't break his bike!!
Finally, I want to give a shout out to all of the racers on the BikeZone team. Have to be the nicest, most polite group, down to each rider, I have encountered on the trails.
Second Finally, good luck to Giant this weekend. He is on his way to Weaverville California to participate in the 24 Hour Solo World Championships!! This course had 600m of climbing per 20km lap!! Crazy!! He will do well!!
As for me, (why does it always have to be about me???), maybe some CX races?? Maybe the 50km SingleTrack Challlenge at Hardwood?? We shall see...