Tuesday, May 29, 2012

2012 Burn 24

Another amazing Event!
The Scene driving in to the Burn 24, Nice!
There I am, white shirt and cap
 I am Burnt!  After completing the race as a 3-4 person team two years ago, then solo last year, this year I was talked into a Duo with Jeff D.  It seemed like a good pairing as we took 1st and 2nd in the Masters solo class last year.  Only problem: there is no Masters duo class, just open duo, but hey, we were in this just to have fun and to see how many laps we could turn.  We decided on each riding a lap to start, then alternating every two laps.
Jeff setting a fast pace.
We started out fast…too fast.  Before the race, I guestimated on Jeff pulling 50-53 minute laps and me pulling 55-58 minute laps.  Wrong!  My first lap was ~43., then my next two were ~45 and 49.  After I nearly died on the Lemans start, Jeff pulled the first (shortened) lap then on his rotation pulled ~44, 47 then ~49 and 49.  Every time one of us would ride by, the other would yell out, “Your going to fast!” or “Slow it down!”. It was not until half way through the race when we settled into the more comfortable pace in the low to high 50’s.  Unfortunately for me, the early pace was taking it’s toll on my legs.  My 2nd lap was becoming consistently 3-6 minutes longer than my first lap,  I was able to stave off cramping my first lap, but each 2nd lap the cramps came early and often.  On my last lap, I experienced something I had not felt since my first ever event (2009 JMM), debilitating cramps.  My right leg locked up so bad I fell over on the bike, screamed in agony (always one for the dramatics) as I attempted to get up, and could not even walk it out. This sucked!  One thing I have always prided myself on is not stopping.  I have seen guys pull 90 minute+ laps on this course…something you can only do if you stop (or ride gears). ;)  I knew that if I can keep moving, even with no strength, my slowest lap would be ~1:10.  Luckily, after what seemed like too long, I was able to get back on the bike.  I took a few rotations and felt o.k., then BAM! The other leg cramps up.  Luckily, I was able to fight them off and keep moving and I finally got to the final bombing downhill.  That last lap took me 1:03, ~9 minutes longer than the previous lap.  I was spent.  I was so glad it was Jeff’s turn as I did not want to do another lap, even though I knew deep inside I could, and would…if I had to, luckily, I did not. The team in 3rd was only 23 minutes behind us after my 2nd to last lap.  If they continued, and I did not go out for another lap, they would catch us.  I stood at the transfer area waiting to see a bike with #72 twist tied to the front, forcing me to go out for another lap.  Then it happened.  An attractive woman next to me had apparently had enough of the heat.  She pulled off her tank top (in what I swear was slow motion) to reveal a string bikini top underneath.  As several of us watched her walk away, I probably gazed a little to long and hard, but then caught something in the corner of my eye.  She had just walked past a bike with #72, sitting under the Trek tent.
TFKT Crew 2nd!  Whodathunkit???

My gaze shifted to the bike and I began to walk over toward it.  THANK GOD!  There was a 2nd bike with #72 sitting next to it.  They were not out riding.  I saw some guys sitting there and introduced myself.  The were done and showered…said they could not even sit on the bike…I know the feeling.  So, we had 2nd locked up and I ended up showering, breaking down my tent and nearly completing getting packed up all in the time it took Jeff to cruise in on a 51 minute final lap.
Another great Burn24 and a nice way to finish off my events here in NC as I now look ahead to my inevitable move to NorCal.

My laps: 2,5-6, 9-10, 13-14, 17-18, 21-22, 25-26.
 Some notes worth mentioning:
I did lose my lunch (or Infinite anyway) on the trail (only once), but did not loose it after the post race meal (unlike last year).
I actually pulled in the faster lap.  Sure, we all know Jeff is faster than me, and this played a role in my early cramping issues (that and the heat), which eventually led to me pulling the slowest lap, but hey, let’s focus on the positive.

Yes, this guy podiumed...again!

Laura representing the Triad.

Finally met Mrs BikeTriad herself, Laura Mulchahy.

It was nice to meet her, her husband and a crew from G’bro H’ing The F.U. & getting it done. ;)

Picked up a nice pit spot next to Kip, Alex, Stranix and crew.  They blew away the 40+ 3-5 person male team.  Congrats to them, Mike and Andy for their podium finish (coed due) and all other Trianglites who showed up to represent.  Congrats!  Finally, big thanks to Jeff for being one heck of a partner.  Not only did he consistantly ride fast laps, his encouragement and his food that I ate when he was out riding, really kept me going.  Thanks Jeff!

Mike and Andy (right) on the Podium again!

Thanks to BikeTriad, Andy, Mike & LumenTrek for the pics.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

PMBAR 2012—Battle of the Bulge

Not sure what to title this write up...“Wheel Problems”  would have been on the mark also, but already I digress.  On the way to Brevard, Jay, Steve and I had to make a stop at an RV place to purchase some hoses for the propane tanks.  After a quick stop, I noticed a subway and made the suggestion to pull in for lunch rather than hitting the freeway and having to pull off again.  Jay takes the turn into the Subway parking lot when suddenly  CLANG-CLUNK-KERCLUNK!  A wheel had fallen off of Jay’s trailer, and due to the slow rate of speed, the trailer fell on the wheel.  This little mishap cost us ~4.5 hours (luckily the RV place was right there and could tow the trailer and fix the wheel).  Also, because the trailer rested on the wheel and did not scrape against the ground, only some pipes to the septic-tank broke so this mishap only ended up costing Jay ~$500 rather than $2-3 grand.  We were all pretty happy this did not happen on Hwy 40 while traveling 70 mph, so maybe it was a sign of good things to come.  We made it to Davidson River late, but still had time to check in, eat Steve’s spaghetti dinner and get a good nights sleep.
As far as a sign of good things to come, not so much:

Steve wondering if duct tape can fix this.
Blocking the entrance to Subway!

Simply put, Jay and I had a day full of mishaps and misdirection.
I was determined to be ready this year, because I remember the horrible feeling of being rushed last year and forgetting things.  No change this year.  There I was again, rushed to get to the start.  Forgot to add my 2nd bottle cage, so no extra water bottle…and there is more.  We are at the start listening to instructions and I realize that I had not eaten any breakfast.  Yep, just blew off the most important meal of the day.  So I begin chowing down on a bar, a Slim-Jim and swallowing it down with some Infinite drink.
Ready with my custom map strapped to my chest.
Bruce at Pressley gap, ready to roll!

Oh great, I have a flat.  So there we are, everyone is off and Jay and I are at the start fixing my flat.  Luckily we aired up, I spun the tire and the Stans held, so off we went, in last place, which means we were forced to walk up black.  In fact we had to start walking on the darn road before even getting to black thanks to the backlog of riders walkers.

Jay pushing up Black, or Turkey, or Pilot, or Laurel, or Club...
Finally we make it to Pressly Gap and start to plan our route.  With a simple goal of 4 checkpoints and a finish before dark, we hurriedly decided to head down Maxwell (can’t remember what we were going to get first).  About half way down, Jay says, “You know, we could have taken Turkey Pen to Bradley Creek.”  Then it hit me.  My mind worked with the speed of a computer calculating all different scenarios and I immediately knew that was the correct route.  We came to a stop and started climbing back up Maxwell to Pressley, then pushed up Black, down Turkey Pen and to our first check point.  Surprisingly, there were a lot of people at that checkpoint, so I felt confident in our route selection.  Now off to Bradley Creek.

For mature audience...behold, my bulge!
We do the little climb not far past the first big river crossing, then hit the bombing downhill afterward, when BAM Pssssst! Flat #2.  Not just a flat, but a slice in the tire.  No boot, so I try sticking a bar wrapper over the slice (took way too long), hoped the tube did not bulge out of the tire too much, and off we went.  Now this is where I DNF’d last year after slicing up my leg on a fall, so we carefully navigated the rivers and just about reached the end when we ran into Kelly, who unfortunately had been sick all week and was calling it a day.  He gave us his spare boot (we decided to only use it if the tube popped) and fantastic directional advice to
 our next checkpoint.

With Kelly's guidance, and pointers I felt very confident we were on track so off we went racing down 1206 to Laurel.  All I could think about was getting a grilled cheese sandwich and a coke.  I remember passing a few trails, but could not see signs, but it did not matter, where we were going was beyond Janes' sandwiches.  Then we run into Steve and Tim.  We tell them out plan and Steve tells us, “Dudes, you are almost to 276.”  Holy Mutha F’er!  We went the wrong way on 1206!!!  Kelly gave us explicit directions, but assumed we knew which way to turn on 1206.  Actually we did know which way to turn, we just did not do it.  SON OF A B!$@#!  So, back we went, with Steve and Tim.

Dave Anderson and Jim Stranix at the top of Pilot.
Jay and I at the bottom of Pilot.
We decided rather than riding back to Laurel (maybe we should have) we hiked up Pilot (took me 59 minutes to get to the top) and down Laurel to the checkpoint, then back up Laurel and rode down Pilot to 1206 and off to 276.  Saw Hawkins coming down Pilot (among others), saw Anderson and Stranix at the top along with a constant stream of teams making their way from Laurel. Also noticed that the slice in my tire had increased in size and now had part of the tube bulging out.  Yikes, so coming down Pilot (and from that point on) I am trying really hard to avoid any rock or root from coming close to rubbing against the drive side of my rear tire as I really did not want to change the tire (again).
Anyway, we are finally are on track with mostly fireroads left to ride.  We get to the 225 checkpoint without issue and then head back up to Club Gap and gingerly down Avery to CP#4.  It was there we were told to double check our passport and instantly decided to take the side trail over to Clawhammer, and down to Maxwell.  We knew we would now be finishing in the dark, but now the goal was just to finish.  The tire was looking worse, but we decided to risk it and just go.  We road up Maxwell to Pressley, and made it up and down Black with lights on and no real issues (nice to see JD and Mark w/ 5 CP’s) and onto the finish where we downed our burrito, some beer and conversation with everyone else who had crossed the line in front of us.   We did not get the finish we wanted, but just like our drive there, it could have been much, much worse, and ultimately ended up o.k..

Heading toward CP#3, Look out for Poison Ivy!

Jay cruising down 225.

   Almost to CP#4, were gonna make it!
Thanks to the generosity of Kelly and his family, we enjoyed some delicious spaghetti and meatballs (and more beer) and spent the rest of the night exchanging stories of our day with Jeff, Bobby, JD et. al.  I seem to remember a comical focus on how my large bulge almost kept Jay and I from a qualifying finish, but I think it is only funny when you are not sober. 
Good times!

Note: The next day when we were packing up, a guy camping across from us came over to chat.  We started talking about the race and I eventually asked how he did.  He replied, “We had a pretty good ride, ended up winning…”  It was Jake Mcgahey.  Totally cool guy, we all talked about the race, work, kids, riding etc.  Really nice of him (and his wife and kid) to come hang out with a few guys that came in 67th place and/or DNF’d.  I’ve had this experience several times either training or at events where I end up just talking bikes with amazing riders.  One of the things I love about mountain biking is most guys, regardless of ability, love talking bikes as much as I do…
Just another thing that really makes this sport special.
Jay and I at the finish with burritos & beer...there is a joke there somewhere.