The trip down: The family (Eddie, me, Jackson, and Porter) were planning on heading out of Atlanta at 7am on Friday morning. Well, apparently people in FL were taking bets on how many hours late we were going to be arriving...turns out we were only 4.5 hours late :) We had to stop at a bike shop in Gainesville, FL where Eddie did a fork swap-a-roo and I had my rear shock bushing checked out. They didn't have a replacement, but said it looked like it was just loose and to try tightening it instead of replacing it. Good deal.
The arrival: We drove into the parking lot and it was already pretty full. Kona
had it's village set up with tents, decorations, sweet demo bikes, etc. They even had a 2007 purple unit 2-9 to demo.. Too bad it was a 19" and not an 18", but I love the color of it!
We drove around the lot and ignored the soon-to-be setting sun and caught up with others we hadn't seen in a while such as Carey Lowery, Ernesto
, Zeke, and others. We stake our claim to pit land and start to get ready to pre-ride. Eddie
pulls my King Kikapu off the rack and starts to try to tighen the bolt on my rear shock, and the next thing I hear out of his mouth is "F&@%"! Great, what happened? The bushing or bolt or whatever it is called snapped in half. I didn't have a spare bike, and we briefly contemplating doing a 12 hour duo where Eddie rode 6 hours and I rode 6 hours on his King Kikapu...but neither of us wanted to ride the second 6 hours because of the cold weather :) So he gets to work looking through his toolbox while I go wandering around asking for something to fix my bike. It turns out Eddie was able to find a really old Specialized bushing from one of his earlier bikes and it was a little large but it worked as a replacement. I would only have to deal with a lot of creaking while I rode, but that was fine, at least I could race. We did a quick pre-ride and it took me awhile to get used to the bike...26" wheels, narrow handlebars, super-high saddle, and...gears. I have major respect for the simplicity of a single-speed. However, the FOX fork felt AMAZING the second I hit the trail. It makes the Reba seem useless. The course was nice...it was in great shape, and not boring. We went out for a quick bite with Eddie's friend Mike and headed for the hotel.
The race: Once again, we arrived late..about 9am for a 10am start, but it was OK since we figured it would start fashionably late, as usual. More familiar faces were found at the start..Mark D (whose pictures I'm "borrowing here") Sandra Tomlinson, Julie Barker, Peter from NC, and many others. It seemed like most of the women were racing the 6 hour, and not the 12 hour...and some super fast women, at that. The mens 12 hour category was stacked with people such as Harlan Price, Rob Lichtenwalter, Andy Mills, Harvey Minton, and Ernesto. I decided to take Jackson and Porter with me to rack my bike on the stands and somehow in the midst of trying to wrangle 2 hyper German Shorthaired Pointers and my bike, my bike ended up falling on me with the tip of the saddle puncturing my calf, leaving it very tender and bruised. Yes I am a clutz..and unfortunately my calf muscle would be necessary to race for the next 6 hours! Ouch. So, the race started with another really long run. I have got to work on my run so I can get to the front..I paced myself so I was near Carey, Julie, and a couple other fast women so I thought I would be OK. However, the masses go straight into the singletrack and a huge long line forms with people walking..everything. In the midst of waiting in line to drop down the first bigger drop, a guy and girl come running along side of everyone waiting, and cut in front like they are special or something. I wanted to say to them.. "WTF?? You should have just run faster during the RUN! Wait your turn, now!" And the guy drops down, but the girl..she RUNS down the hill in the MIDDLE of the trail. I'm on my bike barreling down at least 20mph straight towards her. I can't stop myself from yelling at her...something about how she should get out of the way and if she's going to cut in line she better ride her bike, not run it in the middle of the trail. The first lap was very stressful for me..I hate huge crowds and aggressive passers on the trail. I stopped a couple times to make some on-trail adjustments as I got used to my King Kikapu, but other than that things were OK. I ditched my Wingnut pack on the second lap and settled into an even pace. My calf felt OK for the time being (because of adrenalin, I guess), but my pedal springs were both too loose and I was having problems staying clipped in, which was a bit unnerving at times, especially on a course like Razorback. The next several laps went smoothly, and I got in 5 laps in 6 hours..not excellent, but not bad. My last lap was quite painful on my calf muscle but I knew I was almost done. Nothing really went wrong..I fueled well, and rode well and consistent. I didn't crash, and my bike stayed together (although at times it sounded like it was falling apart!) I realized, after the race, that there was no separate 6 hour womens category, the men and women were lumped together. I think I ended up in around 5th place (women)which is just fine with me. The rest of the evening was a haze, I was exhausted from lack of sleep and I could barely walk because of my calf. I missed the end of the 12 hour race, but I know our friend Harvey ended up 3rd, behind Harlan Price and Rob L. Awesome job, Harvey! Eddie had some bad luck with a mechanical in the 6 hour race, but he was able to score a Kona
demo bike and still ride a hard race. Maybe in a way it's good..since it sounds like he's even more motivated now to kick ass in April...watch out.
Thanks to Richard Walker for helping with the bottle hand-outs!