Monday, June 11, 2007

NORBA Root 66 Holiday Farm

My mountain bike has been gathering dust since I wiped off the Tennesee mud from The Cohutta, I literally have not ridden it since I hobbled in from that hundred-miler after laying it down at 30+ MPH, that was nearly two months ago. The Dalton Holiday Farm race is one of the best events around and I was damned if I was going to miss it even if my shoulder was not a 100% (I wrecked my shoulder and badly tore my right Lat in the crash). Either my head was going to explode from boredom and frustration or I would go out there and race and my shoulder would explode leaving me back at square one of the recovery process.

People who always weigh out every decision carefully (and while sober), consult GPS systems on road trips, and wait half an hour after they eat before swimming seldom find themselves in an adventurous situation. I know all my favorite novels and films depict events that went really, really well, came off without a hitch, and everyone lives happily ever after, that’s what makes a great story.

The morning began with me leaving late to because I was in a debilitated state due to five hours of sleep, then I blew my Google Maps directions, which caused me take half an hour navigating a 9 minute drive, the punchline was me blazing by IBC Teammate Rebecca who I was attempting to pick up as she stood on the curb with her bike and all her gear as she looked on in bemusement. Then as we were within 15 minutes of the venue we took a wrong turn (we actually took the right turn then “untook it”) and overshot our destination by forty minutes roundtrip. This I blame on a state I like to call “Temporary Pee-Blindness”, me and my navigator were both so overcome by the need to pee that we couldn’t think or see straight, this had something to do with none of the many gas stations having bathrooms and the one that did being staffed by a malevolent , sad, little woman who’s only pleasure in life is looking up from her Danielle Steele novel just long enough to deny travelers the use of the station’s bathrooms. If Darfur were inhabited solely by contemptible creatures like this woman I would be sending checks The Janjaweed militia weekly.

Eventually we did make it to Holiday Farm with about twenty minutes to spare, registered, warmed up by running back to the car to pin numbers on bikes, and went to staging. I registered for the Semi-Pro/Pro race only because it was the longest event that day and I knew after month of road riding I’d be lacking that anaerobic snap I would need to hang from the gun in a short race, I would have to fall back on aerobic base, just riding my own pace and trying not to crack and fall apart, hopefully reeling some guys in by the end. There were a whole lot of guys doing the Open Pro race including one of my favorite single speeders Paul Simoes, this guy is force, he pushes a huge gear, climbs really well, and his technical and descending skills are truly terrifying, I was glad to see him on the line.
As is my style I was last into the woods, if I wanted to fight over it I could have maybe been second, but who wants to fight for second to DFL? If you’re that close you just have to embrace your lastness. I hadn’t pre-ridden the course but after doing the last year’s race and the 24 hours of Adrenalin I was pretty familiar with many of the sections and any surprises were welcome, the trail system out there is sweet. One reason why I had such high regard for this race was the monster climb which was featured in the other events I’d done at Holiday Farm. Word was it was out, this was true, I lamented this, but it turned out there was plenty of climbing, it was just more interesting varied stuff, not just a fire road grind, I definitely wasn’t begging for more climbing by the end of this thing.
First lap I was thinking “I can’t do this, my legs are crap, I can’t believe I came all the way out here just to drop out, this was not my plan, this sucks, aaah!”. No warm up was not working for me, by the second lap I felt better, third lap better still, and fourth lap I knew I could pedal home. It also didn’t help that I started the race with my saddle two inches too low, my thought was that during the month or so my bike was hanging around the shop some(short)one took it for a test ride, not marking my saddle height or even trying to put it back where it was like it was a coffee shop cruiser not a meticulously dialed-in race machine. Grounds for murder if you ask me. So I spent much of the first lap messing with my seatpost, I was relaxed enough about this event that I wasn’t sweating it, and when I finally got the height where it was supposed to be my legs felt a hell of a lot better.
Maybe second lap I started catching dudes, I passed a couple of the truly fast guys sidelined with technicals, one came back, Andrew Freye who I have never had the opportunity to ride with (he’s way faster than me from the gun and the rest of the time), he scared me a little on the descents but I stuck with him, thinking he would ultimately drop me, he didn’t, and after he stopped to play with a loose quick release I rode on and never saw him again. I kept on catching people, I came upon John Rowe who gave chase up the climbs, closing down gaps I’d create in the twisty stuff, I thought he’d get me in the end as well, but again I was able to get away. Last lap I went down a couple times, both in soft mud, I was running the Stan’s Crow 29er with it’s sublimated image of tread patter, like the painted on grill marks of a Burger King burger, they may be getting retired. Ha! Re-tired, get it? With jokes like that told in a loud, obnoxious voice, a $300 pair of jeans, some contrived stubble, and the ability to fall down on stage a lot I’d be the next Dane Cook.

Going into the last grind of the last lap I saw the tell-tale sign of another single-speeder ahead, the low cadence standing and rocking climbing style, could it be Paul? It was, I steadily tractor beamed up to him, he was pushing to stay away, he didn’t want to get got, I realized that I was running out of trail and if I didn’t pass and gap him by the top of the climb he would dust me in the technical stuff. I put in a brutal effort to accomplish this and didn’t look back, going as hard and fast as I could while trying not to die.
Astonishingly enough I landed 6th out of 14 finishing Semi-Pro/Pros, I was shocked and pleased and I won Five bucks, and you know I only do this for the cheddar.
Big ups to the rest of the IBC posse, Rebecca, Hannah, and Rachel(who podiumed in Expert class!) for getting the better of this grueling slog of a race.
I’ve said this before but every race should be held by a body of water like the icy stream which runs through Holiday Farm, cooling your feet, knees, lower back, and washing the grime off before getting back in the car is so key. I might even say it’s mint.
Since my shoulder didn’t blow up looks like I’ll be up at Putney in a couple weeks,
I feel like sally for not getting out there sooner, I also just found out that I’m doing Fitchburg and Housatonic Hills, yikes.


jeff said...

you killed it!

Thom P. said...

Yes I did, yes I did, and by "it" you must be referring to my lower back.

Thomas said...

Great job ! Thats some fast riding there... mtbtom

Andy said...

over comming Temporary Pee-Blindness and a low seat to finish strong!
Good write up man..funny stuff.