Tuesday, April 5, 2011

6 Hours of Warrior Creek re-cap: part 2

I'm sorry about the jumbled mess that was my post yesterday for some reason blogger refused to cooperate with me and everything posted as one large paragraph. Not sure what happened or why but everything I tried was a failure, maybe today blogger will cooperate maybe it won't. Anyway, once we finally got moving Saturday morning the sun came out and started warming things up. I really wasn't too worried about the rain the night before, I've ridden Warrior Creek in the rain and while it was slick in spots everything held up well. Andy, Chris and a few others left early that morning to secure us a spot while I hung back at the campsite with Melinda and the dogs. We rolled into our pits around 9am with plenty of time to get everything squared away and get in line. This year the start finish line was situated on the other side of the pit area for what reason I'm not sure. I'm sure they explained why in the racer's meeting but I was too busy fiddling with my Go Pro to pay attention. As usual most of the NTMBA/GRT crew line up close to the back of the pack, we never really get too carried away with the start, it's usually a cluster anyway. This year the start was worse than I had ever seen it. The normal road section at first did it's job of spreading the pack out somewhat but when we rounded the corner 200 yards before the entrance to the woods there was a line of racers standing........ yes standing, waiting to go in. I was really surprised and confused at what had us held up. As we walked closer to the beginning of the trail it became clear as to what the hold up was, mud, slick and nasty. I couldn't believe it was so bad already. In the first 50 feet there was a climb and the traffic was bad, one person spinning out was causing everyone to dismount and walk. We were off walking or standing more than riding the first 20 minutes of the race. I got irritated quickly and lost my patience, once we started rolling I just couldn't bring myself to stop again. Unfortunately the line came to a halt again but my impatience took over and I rolled past 5 or so people on the side of the trail which of course got me fussed at. The people I passed were not too pleased with me. I realized how stupid that was and immediately apologized. I felt bad for about a half a minute and then thought to myself hey this is a race not a line at the amusement park. As things rolled on the group thinned out and passing became easier. Someone would go down in front, two or three would pile up behind them and I would pass on the outside. I don't know how I managed to stay up right the entire first lap but I did. The whole course was slick and nasty and never got any better. The whole time I was thinking if this gets any worse I'll be lucky to get two laps in. I finally settled into a groove with a couple of guys for a while until someone would slide out and get passed. I lost count of how many corners I came through Dukes of Hazard style but after a while it seemed to be the norm. The first lap I ran the Go Pro but no matter how much I tried I kept missing all of the good wipe outs. Everytime I would think it was about to get boring and switched off the camera, someone would eat it hard. I should have just left it running the entire lap. I thought it was never going to end and I lost site of all my crew as I worked my way through the field but I knew we would re group in the pits. It took over an hour and a half to finish the first lap, most folk's second lap was their fastest. When we rolled into the pits I immediately began working on my bike trying to free up the drive train from mud, everything was a mess and just before we arrived a water line had busted leaving us with no spare water to use, all I had was what was in my bottles. After refueling a bit and getting my bike running properly we regrouped and went out for a second lap. Immediately we noticed the conditions were vastly different on the trail. Everything was drying up faster than I had every seen it. It was as if the NASCAR track drying trucks had gone out after us and dried off the course. I kept thinking things would get bad again but they didn't, they just kept getting better and better. My second lap was much faster and smoother than the first. After rolling in the pits again I chilled out for a bit stretching out my back and neck. I felt really stiff but refused to sit down for long afraid that I might not get back up. As we hung out I noticed Chris never once sat down or changed he just stood under the EZ-UP and looked as if he was hurting. I think he was playing possum because once I sat down and asked him what his plan was he announced he was going back out now to get it over with. I really wasn't ready but I got up and moving anyway. I started looking for my water as Chris rode off and I realized I had left my last bottle back in the truck. I searched around until I found one of Melinda's and dumped it into my mud covered bottle. By the time I got ready Chris had probably a 10 - 15 minute head start and I figured there was no way of catching him. I asked around to see who else was ready to go and got the same answer all around, they were done for the day. Damn, I guess I'm on my own for the rest of the race. Not really thinking there was enough time for a fourth lap I just sat back and tried to enjoy the ride. I stopped every once in a while to stretch and let the faster guys pass convinced I would not see Chris until the finish line. What amazed me was the amount of 29ers out on the course, I swear 70% or more of the bikes in this race were 29er's and Niner seemed to be the most popular. Another thing I noticed was how fresh so many of the fast guys looked. Several of them had clean bikes and kits as if this was their first lap and I went ahead and let myself believe it to be the case since they were so much faster than me, they had to be on fresh legs. My bike and kit looked as if we had run through a gauntlet of people throwing buckets of mud at us. About 3/4 of the way through the course the wind really picked up. I had already seen some downed trees but had never felt in any danger. At one point the wind was roaring with such force behind me I keep waiting to be engulfed by a twister. Tree limbs were being snapped off left and right and flying through the air all around me. I really was surprised a tree didn't come down right in front of me. At mile 12 probably the section with the most climbing I saw a red and black bike ahead with a rider wearing a green jersey, I couldn't believe it but it was Chris. Seeing him actually lifted my spirits a bit and gave me enough gas to finish out the lap a little stronger. I gave him a friendly yell startling him a bit I think as I passed and spent the rest of what I had left in the tank putting a gap on him just in case he was playing possum. I rolled into the pit area and crossed the finish line relieved to be done and happy with my finish, not only did I achieve my goal of three laps but I had a clear head the entire time. Had I been in fifteen minutes earlier I would have pondered going out and suffering through another lap but I was more than satisfied with my performance. This year I think I redeemed myself for my porr performance last year. I did get some Go Pro footage but as usual I've yet to look at it. More to come and hopefully a video in the next few days.

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