Thursday, November 8, 2007

Shake The Trees

So my latest adventure found me in the Charlotte area to participate in the 12 Hour Tree Shaker Challenge. I was pretty excited about this race because two of my fellow Vassago Team mates were going to be there, Brian Archer and Chris Davis. Plus the competition was going to be good with Team Dicky and Ross Dowswell showing up.

The Run

So we do the usual Le Mans style run at the start. The goal of these are to try and spread guys out before you hit the singeltrack. You drop your bike off at the start line and do a small loop. It never works :). My goad for the start was to try and get up front as best I could because the trail doesn't offer many places to pass and there are several bridges that I knew were going to be bottle necks. One in particular would give me trouble for at least 3 laps. There was a suspension bridge that was so narrow that my bars wouldn't fit. I tried flicking the bars around and being all fancy to try and stay on the bike but after eating it on 3 consecutive laps I figured the best plan was to just walk this thing.

Settling In

I basically ride these lap races in big chunks of time with out stopping. I usually do one 5 hour chunk and then stop for a little bit. My plan was working pretty good. I'm riding at a steady brisk pace and really enjoying myself. The trail has nice flow and it has a nice combination of fast swoopy stuff for the first half and harder climbs for the 2nd half. I'm starting to pick out all my landmarks too. I like to make note of weird rocks and trees so that I know where I'm at on the trail.

First Stop

I had great support for this race as a good friend came in to watch me so I was really taken care of well when I did make my first stop. I did a quick check of the results and I surprisingly saw that I was in 2nd behind Dicky. I always have reservations about checking results. When I see that I'm doing well it makes me freak a little bit but it also inspires me to ride more.

Half Way

We've reached the halfway point and I've slipped to 3rd. Ross caught up to me about halfway through one of my laps. We rode together for awhile and he went by me. I hung with him but screwed up a log crossing and had to dab. That was enough for him to get a gap on me. I tried to close but then thought better of it. I knew that if broke from my pace I'd burn myself out and risk not finishing. I backed it off and let him go. There was still lots of time left and anything can happen.

Bring The Pain

Eight hours in and I'm starting to feel it. The hills are getting steeper and my body is starting to hurt. The low points are coming faster and more frequent but I'm still able to ride out of them. My pace is still good and my legs feel great. Each time I start a lap I get a new burst of energy. I'm riding less consecutive laps but after checking the results I have a one lap advantage on 4th place. Dicky and Ross are pretty well ahead of me but I'm not worried about that. I just need to ride for another few hours and I'll be done.

Just Let It Be Over

You get to point in these races where you don't care how you finish you just want it to be over. I'm there now. I'm riding at night. It's very cold and it seems like I'm the only one on the trail. The laps are coming real hard now and I know I have to do one more to make sure I have 3rd locked up. Dickey catches
up to me on my 2nd to last lap. He is still riding strong and says he is going out for one more. I ride with him for a bit just to chat and then I let him go. My light is also acting up a little bit. The connection into the battery is loose and it cut out on my. It's so dark in the woods but I don't panic and get it fixed.

Last Lap

I go out for my last lap and my support crew is really cheering for me and it helps. I know for this last lap that I just need to finish. Doesn't matter what time I finish. I'm riding just fast enough to not fall over. I'm starting to walk one of the bigger climbs. I get on the back half of the trail and I don't think I'm ever going to finish. It feels like I'm the only person that exists in the world right now. The trail is so empty. The only thing that keeps me going is the distant cheering I here. It's my support crew and it drives me forward.


I roll into the finish line and find that I've managed to hang on for
3rd place. A final check of the results show that I had 2 laps up on 4th place which means I didn't have to do that last lap oh well. Overall this was one of my best races. It was a tough bumpy course but the Jabberwocky held up and begged for more. This one is going on the schedule for next year.

As usual thanks to Vassago Cycles and The Bicycle Escape.

Congrats to all my Teammates and Pete for great finishes.

Now I need to focus on La Ruta

Few Pictures

One of these things is not like the other ;)

Brian on the trail tearing it up

Chis hammering

Me trying not hit trees

Pete in his purple flames


Anonymous said...

was a hell of a fun race. it was good riding with you for a while there at the end of the second lap on the retarded climb out. good luck in la ruta. -jon

Hmmm.... said...

Great race Kevin! I am very proud of was good to get down there and see you race. Some good competition to keep you going.

Always ready to support you!

Tom said...

Nice work Kev!