Monday, February 13, 2012


The First Ever 2012 Bushwhack Mountain Bike Race...Brrrrr!

Sunday brought the first ever Bushwhack Mtb Race, put on by the Bushwack Adventure Racing. And let me tell you, this ride as a true HTFU ride!  The course was not too daunting:  ~6 miles of Crabtree, ~19 miles of Umstead double-track, finishing with a 2nd ~6 mile loop through Crabtree.  The kicker is that the race time temperature was ~27° F, brrrrr!   Naturally, there were several no shows…well they missed out.  The course was fun, yet challenging and the riders and volunteers alike were spirited and encouraging.  While there were no categories for this ‘open’ event, the start was staggered by expert, sport and beginner categories starting 1 minute apart.  I planned on running 32:18, much steeper than my usual 32:20, but it was a shorter event than what I am use to, so I was hoping I could pull more speed and yet not cramp up…ended up wrong on both accounts.
Glad to be ahead of the Tandem going into single-track!
My strategy for the beginning was not to get stuck in a Crabtree backlog.  The race started with a long out and back on the road to spread out the group before hitting the single-track, I did my best to spin near the front for two reasons.  First, it sucks being stuck behind a large group that want to go slower than you.  Second, when it is that cold, and you know you still have 30+ miles left, it is easy to talk yourself into accepting a slower, more comfortable pace at the start.  Letting the momentum of faster riders carry me through could be a difference of up to 5 minutes.
After rolling through Crabtree at a pretty good pace we hit Umstead.  To my surprise, who should come up behind me but Mark Farnsworth himself, Mr. Fe bikes, on the twenty-niner he recently built for himself.  I knew he had been doing some major Umstead riding and would likely go through at a fast pace…so my goal, stick with him!  I felt this should not be a problem as he was running 32:20 to my 32:18.  Wrong!
Goal for lap 1: Push it!
We did stay together for much of the ride, which went as follows:  Drop gearies on climbs.  Gearies catch us on flats and down hills.  Repeat!                                                                         
The difference came on the very last climb, the short, but steep Cemetery (or Graveyard) Hill.   Mark and I were pulling away from the rest, but I was having a tough time keeping up with his pace.  We both stand and power up the hill…ouch, the cramps are starting.  My 33:18 did not help me climb any faster as I had to climb gingerly to fight off cramps.  When we reached the top, I was beat.  Mark started to spin along with another single-speeder, and I started dropping back to nurse my legs.  I did not want to lose sight of the two riders in front of me so I started spinning with all my might.  I knew that with all things being equal, if we both spin 110 rpms, my gearing is going to allow me to go faster.  Well, apparently Mark was spinning at 150 rpms because I was spinning as fast as I could and they were pulling away from me.  By the time I entered the gate at Crabtree, they had already take the turn to the single-track.  My goal, just keep the legs going.
I'm to the right, behind Joe (in yellow). Cleared it!

Cruising to the 1st real Umstead climb. Crushed it!
Amazingly, before we arrived at the top near the parking lot, I had caught Mark.  He said something about how he had crashed as I went by.  I thought, that sucks to come this far and wreck.  Found out later he meant his body crashed (bonked), but hey, it happens.  I just kept moving, trying to go as fast as I could where the trail would allow it.  It was pretty muddy and sloppy on one of the last loops before the end (loop 5 maybe?) and I did slide into a tree, but only hooked my bar end and dabbed.  I quickly hopped back on the trail and carefully road through the freshly thawed, slippery mess.  Luckily, at this part of the trail, I could look back and see there was no one in sight.  This information allowed me to pick my spots and fight off cramps that became really bad by loop 2.  The race ended with another out and back on the road.  Luckily there was no one right behind me, as I would not have been able to hold anyone off on a long paved section with my legs cramping.  I rolled across the finish spent, but stoked.  No categories, so I do not know where I came in amongst the other SS'ers, but it looks like I came in ~25th overall (~2:29) which is great considering two weeks ago at the JMM I think I came in 67th (both races wtih ~100 riders).  Regardless, this really was a fun event.  After the usual hanging around and B.S.’n with different riders, a bunch of us headed off to Rally Point Sports Bar for some delicious spaghetti, salad, and $2.50 pints of one of my favorite beers, Natty Greene’s Old Town Brown!  Good ride, good people, good event…good times!

Photo Credits: (on the left) and Rob Ward (on the right).  Thank you so much for capturing these for means a lot! 


  1. My #2 goal for bushwhack was to beat you and early on I realized the only hope I had was leg speed.

    I bonked hard near the end but other then that the race was awesome. I achieved my #1 goal of having fun and that's what really counts.

    I am looking forward to Curse of the Crab rematch....

  2. What? Why do people want to beat me? What glory is had by beating a short, old (well, 42), bald, weekend warrior who carries a beer gut and likes ribs? Come to think of it, maybe I would be better/faster if I tried to beat certain riders, but I always just ride my race. I try to pick a pace that I feel I can carry for the duration of the event, then push just a little bit harder...hoping I will have something at the end. I do use other riders to motivate me during the race (trying to keep up with them for stretches), but ultimately, I just hope to have something toward the end. Naturally, the end usually comes with serious cramping, but hey, it happens.
    Good luck to you at the rematch. If your goal is beating me, I actually hope you accomplish long as I have a good race, I will be happy. So again, good luck, because if I have a good race, you will need it. ;)

  3. Your the winner...