Monday, July 20, 2009

Oh, Sunapee Lions

Sleep - 6 Hours
Weight - 164.5
Gear - 34 X 18
Result - 4th Elite

And I feel like Nancy Kerrigan did after Jeff Gillooly got to her with that pipe.

I last raced over a month ago, it was past time I got back at it. What better race to start with than the first race I ever did. In 1999, as a Sport, I entered the Sunapee Lions race. Tyler Hamilton was there, fresh off his first Tour De France with Postal, he was riding a borrowed Gary Fisher with canti brakes racing Expert. He got his ass kicked, this was a real mountain bike race. Those Experts looked so frickin' big and scary back then, Matt Svatek's sideburns pointy.

Today I lined up with a small Elite field at roughly the same venue. The course has changed a lot over the years, and there was only one face there from that '99 race, Matt O'Keefe. In '99 I was happy to finish 5th in the Sport field, today I was happy not to utterly embarrass myself during my tentative return to Elite level mountain bike racing.

And I promised myself I wouldn't ramble.

The posse today consisted of Greg The Leg and Kevin Sweeney . We arrived at the venue relatively on time, but after waiting in huge lines for registration and longer lines at the port-a-potties we had no time for warm up, never mind a pre-ride of the course. Mass Starts...are wicked awesome. It gives the appearance that an event is really well attended, especially when you're waiting at registration for twenty minutes and at the port-a-potties for another twenty minutes. Eveyone has the same start time, registration time, and poop time.

Poop time. I damn near had to go to the start line with "one on deck". Think about that, folks work so hard to shave pounds off their bodies and grams off their bikes, when if they only ate more roughage they might go to the start line two pounds lighter. I thought about it the whole race long "At least I'm only five pounds over base race weight, not seven pounds, that would suck much worse".

Talking about poop is not rambling.

Through the first part of the course I was spun out on the flat, bumpy, jeep roads, I made my first passes after the first high-speed mud bog crossing, on an uphill. Passing GTL and Brian Hughes, looking back to see EX-Super-Blogger and my '09 24 Hours of Great Glen Teammate Jeff Whittingham in tow. The climbs were great, broken up very nicely, with some high speed downhills, and one not so high speed "I can't believe I'm having to pedal down this mud bog at this gradient" section, with a great flip yourself over the handlebars mud bog crossing at the bottom. I'd get each of the bog dialed, find my line, only to get thrown off my plan the next lap by lapped traffic (another awesome element off mass starts, major lapped rider traffic).

Jeff and I caught up to Mike Bartlett, who was climbing very fluidly, getting so in the zone that he actually tried to spin off up a hill going off course, Jeff and I got him back on track though. Jeff was nursing a slow leak in his rear tire and Mike was outpacing me on the climbs. After flipping over in a mud bog and fumbling with a bottle, I'd never see Mike again, Jeff would keep coming back after his tire fiddlings, even though I was out there going "Dude, I am totally railing this shit! – Oh, hi Jeff".

The singletrack sections were rad, albeit few and far between, if they could add 20% more of that stuff to this course, it would be the best damn thing ever. That stuff was so flowy, twisty, and fun. I don't know if the Webb brothers are still out there cutting that stuff, if so, thanks fellas, very nice work.

So as you might have gathered by now, I liked the course while I felt the race organization was lacking. A final note on that, the Elites paid an exorbitant $49 fee and pay out was for first place only, $100, and a claimed $200 medal. A word to promoters, racers could give a crap about medals. I personally have so many "Yeah! I finished the race" nondescript medals, I have no idea what to do with them. Sometimes I would award them to my niece and nephew for accomplishing amazing tasks like washing their hands or wiping their butts. I'm not quite sure what the thinking was on that one. We pay more, they pay out less.

I'm deadly serious when I say that 90% of the Elites who raced today (we were kind of unanimously pissed) will not return next year and those that do will save themselves twenty or so bucks and race Expert.

And I have promoted a race.

As a promoter I'll say this regarding the shit storm Kevin started about the Pat's Peak course. What the hell good is it for a promoter to focus on all the ass kissing about how great their race is? Not to ring my own cowbell, but the race I did promote didn't get a lot of criticism, what little it did, I noted, I took it to heart, and if, I say if we put on another race this year improvements will be made based on those criticisms.

Next week, Root 66 Mt. Snow, such a bad idea for me to do it, we'll see what happens.


Cary said...

I raced there in 1999 too. Junior Novice category. I got 3rd, it was my best race of maybe 6 or 7 that summer. This is back when a Junior Novice EFTA race would have like 50 dudes in it. Cohen Caswell won it, he went on to some big junior results and then retired I guess. I thought about going back to commemorate the ten year, but I figured I'd save my energy for some Mt. Snow action. Great to see you are back racing. Congrats on getting married.

jeff said...

you were killing it that last lap and a half; you'd have really crushed that course w/a decent warm-up!

mt snow, mt snow.

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

Congrats on the marriage...I love a good love story.
Great picture at the top of the post.

dougyfresh said...

I like that photo a lot.