Another one down
What an awesome day for a killer ride. Eddie and I set a new record and arrived 4 HOURS LATE. We knew we wouldn't make the 9am start for the ride so we decided to sleep in, then work on bikes, and let the trails dry out from Friday's heavy rains.
We started around 2pm, just as Thomas Turner and Greg Turner (the once again leaders) were finishing up their ride. We started up the Windy Gap trail and things were great. It was steep climbing, but I was feeling good. I hadn't ridden this stuff since exactly one year ago, and from what I remembered there wasn't much flat..just climbing and descending..so I decided to use my same gearing as last year. BIG MISTAKE. Soon, but not soon enough as the steep climbing was finally about to make me puke, we turned onto Milma, and then TIBBS. TIBBS is a good option if you'd like to inflict yourself with pain. Make sure you choose a singlespeed for maximum pain factor. I think it climbs like 2000+ ft in just over a mile. It's wicked. Anyway, I ended up riding 75% of this climb, until the huge steep boulder gardens at the top. I walked all of that, not ashamed to admit it. I was a little worried, though, because last year I walked almost all of Tibbs with this gear, and this year I rode much more of it. So, what would that mean for the rest of my day? Let me give you a hint: spin, spin, spin, and not getting anywhere.
After Tibbs, we continued to Potatopatch and passed Hodge. He was looking like he was ready to be done, and I don't blame him. This guy was running fixed on this course!! I knew he was in for a "treat" as he was about to hit Windy Gap, the last descent..it's steep, technical, it's kind of scary in spots, and it's fast.
We continued on without incident..I started to feel a little bonked when we started climbing again, but I knew why. I wasn't eating enough. I was drinking a lot, mostly because I was carrying a 15lb. Wingnut pack (another big mistake) and I wanted to lighten the load. Still, my energy was draining quickly, and my gear choice was poor for everything but steep climbs. I had a hard time not focusing on how annoyed I was about this, but I did my best. Thanks to Eddie for waiting for me. I'm sure he could have ridden this at least an hour faster than he did with me. Next time, I'm using a bigger gear.
The turnoff for the Windy Gap descent was a welcome sight. At this point, we figured we were last on the course. Though, starting 4 hours late, I wasn't surprised we didn't catch anyone. I just hoped people would still be hanging out in the parking lot when we finished.
Last year, they graded Windy Gap and it was really much smoother and faster. Being an ATV trail, the motorcycles and ATVs have done a good job of stirring up the rocks again and making it more techy. The rigid fork (yes, I ran rigid) was doing well for most of it. It doesn't handle mistakes as well as a suspension fork but that is just forcing me to be better about picking lines. I am loving the predictability of it. I know exactly where I'm going with it and how the bike will handle. After we made it through the tech stuff at the top, we hit the steep, fast section. It was not smooth like last year. It was loose, dry, steep, and full of random babyheads. Just as I was about done with the hairy section, I started to breath a sigh of relief and said to myself "OK, good job, almost done. Just don't hit any big rocks". No less than one second later, with rocks on the brain, I hit one big azz rock. However, having no suspension, I didn't roll over it like I otherwise would have. No, I nose wheelied after going about 20mph down this steep azz hill. I screamed loudly and Eddie had stopped below and was yelling up to me to see if I was OK. I didn't crash, but it was a scary close call. I was so shaken that I only responded "I'm not sure, I think so". Anyway, I hopped back on my bike and finished it out. The last section of Windy Gap is scary fast. Big berms, jumps, some ruts and babyheads thrown in. I just wasn't enjoying this speed..I felt like I was going 50mph, but braking was only making it worse with the rigid fork. I couldn't wait for it to end. Finally, it did, and I made it through another Firewater 50. Last year I was the first female to do it on a singlespeed. This year, I was the first and only to do it on the rigid SS. What was really awesome, though, is that there were still people hanging out in the parking lot, and I got my shot of Firewater. It didn't taste as bad as I thought it would.
I'm already looking forward to doing it again next year!