Tuesday, October 03, 2006


EFTA Grillz Memorial Race Report

Why? Why, when there was a NORBA Root 66 race less than hour away in Connecticut did I decide to get up at 5:30 AM and drive for close to three hours to an EFTA race in coastal Maine when the forecast was for fifty degrees and rain? I’ll tell you why. All right I can’t really tell you why I decided to do such a thing, I can tell you why it ultimately turned out to be a good decision. I did the Brialee, CT NORBA last year, it was all right, but I wanted something different, I hadn’t raced in Maine all year, I’d heard this race was full of sick, technical, goodness, and my special girlfriend and I has just come into possession of a fine Swedish automobile which was just crying out for a roadtrip.

It was dark when I awoke, not like that bluish, the sun’ll be up soon dark, it was really REALLY dark, I mean the C.H.U.D.s were still out. I had everything ready to go because I am clinically uh, “differently abled” in the morning if you can call 5:30 AM “morning”. I ate my rice and eggs, rushed through a little Yoga session, threw my gear in the car, and bolted. About twenty minutes later I realized I didn’t have the oh so elaborate and complex directions to the venue…shnikey. It was early, too early to call anyone for help so I fired off a few text messages for people to call me when they got up. I knew the highway directions, so I figured someone would get back to me before I had to get off in the sticks and begin winding my way down to Reid State Park in Georgetown Maine.
My plan to open up the new car on the highway was not meant to be, there were Staties everywhere and I was one of about five cars on the road at that hour, oh well, set the cruise control for 79 and turn up Slade on the stereo. After getting no response to my texts I called up my sister’s house (a house of small children is always early to rise) and enlisted my brother in law to mapquest up some directions. Of course I had nothing to write on and the directions were pretty involved, luckily I spotted Matt O’Keefe (one of the fastest guys to ever do the EFTA circuit) and knew that the only business he had in the area was the race so I followed him.
For once I had time to warm up, I got out on the course, adjusted the tire pressure, got all pumped, I don’t know why but I had a very relaxed attitude about this one. Something Mike Ramponi said on the 101 trip kept resonating with me, “y’know what ? Tomorrow I wanna ride my bike in the woods…all day”. I wasn’t going to be riding all day, but I was pretty stoked to ride my mountain bike on some real mean, Maine singletrack, just like I was on a solo hammer ride through The Fells back home.
At the start I could see a couple of the usual dangerous suspects, Andrew freye, Michael Patrick, Matt O’keefe, only one of which was in my class, I got behind Andrew and tried to follow him from the gun, it worked until we hit the flat parking lot and I went “oh ya, single speed, buh-bye”. Despite the geared friendly hole shot I got into the woods in good position, up with the juniors and senior I’s, some of whom go off like nitro burning funny cars, expending all their fuel by the end of the first lap. Got a bit of ‘cross practice in with some dismounting and running like hell early on as things bottlenecked, I actually chose to run a few sections every lap because it was that technical of a course.
My Stan’s No-Tubes experiment seemed to be working out, I was running non-UST tires on my Stan’s rims, after a few nerve wracking bottom outs on some rocks and roots I realized that it was really working and I had nothing to worry about, awesome.
The course was broken into two sections, the first one being very technical with some wet rooty uphill scrambles, a whole lot of off camber stuff, but generally pretty fast. Then there was intermission, a few minutes (a few too many for a single speed) of high-speed fireroad, just undulating enough so that it wasn’t a total rout, except when Skip Brown passed me like I was a Geo Metro on the Autobahn. Some of the other Expert geared riders gave me a little bit of grief on this section but I was able to gap back up the second we hit the woods again.
Aside from the first lap and a half I was solo, I caught up to a couple of the overcooked young guys going into the second lap, as I came by one he gasped “oh man, that is just demoralizing”, I don’t know if he meant the fact that I was close to fifteen years older than him or the fact that I was riding a single speed or both. After I got by the juniors there were two more geared Experts going back and forth with me for a bit. One kind of faded as the other lead through the fireroad section back into the singletrack, a photographer on course warned us of a slick bridge ahead, and then WHAM! The rider in front of me went down hard, I shot off the side of the bridge and looped up around him, he said he was all right but I never saw him again. From then on I was all alone, just out there having a good time riding my bike in Maine, trying to clean as much stuff as possible and not die doing it, or trying to do it.
When it was over I was fifth overall, third in my class, it was my first EFTA podium of the season, and a nice way to end things on the mountain bike before I begin embarrassing myself on the ‘cross circuit.

1 comment:

IF Chicks said...

Congrats on a super mt bike season...onward to cross !!!!!!!