Monday, May 26, 2008

flat fridays.... redemption

Friday's ride was a bust. I'm an hour in, riding solo, and I blow the bead on my front tire after going off a 2ft drop. No sweat. I've got a tube and a pump. A few minutes later the tire is back up to ridable pressure. Cool. Pull the handpump off the valve stem and next thing I know the valve core is still in my pump.

Oh great! Now I'm in for a long walk since I just double-flatted. Bike on my shoulder and I'm walking. Seeing as it was the Friday evening before Memorial Day I made many phone calls before getting in contact with someone for a ride home (I ride my bike to the trails from my house... a few miles up the road).

Not a happy camper

An hour later I'm at the trailhead on my street and my ride is waiting for me. One hour ride and one hour hike.

Fast forward to Memorial Day. I ditched the Ignitor front tire and put on my CrossMark and re-sealed everything up. New chain and we're good to go. I head back up to the West Hartford reservoir for a lazy ride before it got dark. This time... All is good and I had a great 2h ride. Looks like the bike is all ready for Mohican next weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

talcott mountain & thanks

First off, thanks to all that came out to REI the other night. I hope you had a good time and found it very enjoyable and informative. We had a good turn-out and I fully enjoyed sharing some local info and my La Ruta experiences to all.

Went for a hike over on Talcott Mountain today. Hiked up to the Heublein Tower. Unfortunately it is not open yet but I did get some nice views from the base of the tower. Very cloudy with some patches of sun. Windy too.

Here's some photos I snapped with the iPhone. (I should have brought the real camera.) It was drizzling too.

Two rainbows!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Tues. May 20th! Come on out to REI West Hartford

This coming Tuesday, May 20th at 7pm I will be giving a presentation at the West Hartford, CT REI. The topic will be primarily focused on my La Ruta experience.

Here's the REI website info.

Here's an excerpt:
"Whether you are new to mountain biking, looking for new places to ride, are an enthusiast looking for your next big adventure; this presentation will highlight the full spectrum of possibilities within mountain biking. From casual rides on greenways to hitting the trails in the West Hartford Reservoir or venturing out to the jungles of Costa Rica, you'll gain an insight into where your bicycle can take you!"

Looking forward to it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Maximus Rockimus

Tim Dougherty, his friend Sean and I drove out to Michaux State Forest near Gettysburg PA Saturday evening (Yeah, the race was back on May 4th). Set up the tent and was asleep by 9. Awake by 6:30 (slept like a rock) and got ready for the race. Very foggy but the sun was out around 7:30. Race start at 9. Huge singlespeed field.

This race was 50miles and 48miles was singletrack and nothing but rock gardens. It destroys you and destroys your equipment (typically tires). Some of the singletrack was new so it was soft and slow-going. Not to mention a lot of mud from the rains. 29inch wheels are the name of the game. Quite a few people running them and it helps with the rocks.

Got a good start. Top 10 singlespeed. Saw Harlan on the side fixing a flat early on. That wasn't a good sight. Shortly later he's passing me trying to get back into the geared field (turns out he flatted twice and still took 5th). I had a flat rear tire around mile 10. Hole in the tread and the tire sealant wouldn't seal. Had to pull off and put a tube in my very muddy rear tire (there's a bunch of mud in my tire too). Watched most of the singlespeed field pass me.

Tire is fixed and I'm back on the bike picking people off. Felt good and rode hard. Caught up to Buddy and rode with him for a bit. He had a nice pace going so I tagged along with him. Could keep up on the climbs but he, and his suspension fork, would pull away on the descents. Damn rigid fork holding me back. I recall at some point saying "Buddy, you're killing me!" in an act of frustration in not being able to hold on his wheel. We kept on catching up to people and passing them. This felt great. At one point we came into this big sweeping turn that ended in a very short and steep climb. Buddy punched it and I was in the 'moment' and did the same. We both pulled from deep to get up that climb. In addition to us riding it there were quite a few geared and singlespeeders walking up it. Got to the top and kept on going. What a reward. We both were like "We're going to pay for that later."

Fast forward: More rocky trails. A long rocky descent in which Buddy pulled away from me. I knew at some point we have to go up this long and steep grassy climb. I forgot how close it was so I did my best to not ride too hard knowing I'd need the energy to get up this climb. A few more miles later I rolled up onto it and also caught back up to Buddy. Turns out the climb was in the sun which just added to the suffering. My goal was to ride as much of it as possible knowing I could make up some time here. Lots of people backed off and resorted to walking. I rode as much as I could and would walk a few feet. Then back onto the bike for a bit. On the bike, off the bike, on the bike, off the bike. Typical game I play. Luckily the times on the bike were greater than off the bike.

Got to the top and rolled into the 3rd aid station. Ruben refilled my camelbag. I quickly realized I'm behind the 8-ball with fluid intake for my camelbag was relatively full. Also asked Ruben how far up Tim was. He said word on the trail was Tim busted a bunch of spokes in a wheel for he hasn't passed through the 25mile aid station yet. Not good. About a minute passes and I'm back on the bike and off to find more people to pass.

A huge headache set in around somewhere between mile 30 and 35. I could thank dehydration for that. My lower back was also on fire from poor posture. I had the strength in my legs but the lower back pain and headache were messing with me. Felt as if I couldn't even turn the pedals over. Those miles were very slow. Lots of walking some sections I normally could ride. I felt miserable. Drank and ate more and was trying to drink a lot to compensate. Not a good idea. Now my stomach is somewhat
bloated. The valley were in ended with a ride up a running creek to a steep climb out of the creek. I walked most of the creek thinking "What at they doing sending us up a creek with water beyond my ankles?".

Got onto the steep climb and tried to ignore the headache and was able to ride out of the valley. At the top it turned onto a fire road and I found a pace I could ride and try to recover. I'm now starting to feel better and most people near me are starting to feel horrible so I'm back to passing some people (no singlespeeders though). My legs felt good (no cramping) but my headache persisted. I eventually saw a sign that said "39ish" so I knew I was getting closer. Most of the course was different from last year so I really didn't have a clue as to where I was. I just knew I'm getting close to 5hours in and based off my time from last year (6hours 4mins) I figured I'm almost to the finish.

Went down a very tight descent with lots of switchbacks. So steep I basically had the wheels locked and was sliding down the trail. Another singlespeeder caught up to me and was tailing me down the hill. I recall him asking me where the next aid station is for his bottles were empty. We came out onto some flowing singletrack with hardly any rocks (wow, a rare sight) and pushed it trying to get away from this guy knowing I had water and felt good and he was slowly loosing it. I drank and ate some more to fend off any unwanted cramping while trying to stay ahead of this guy. Couldn't quite
shake him but the last aid station saved me. He stopped and I kept on going knowing I had some water and we were told we're 3 miles to the finish (albeit uphill).

I gave it everything I had to get up that hill. Thank goodness it was undulating doubletrack that wasn't too technical. My legs hurt but there was no cramping. Eventually saw the finish line so I pedaled like mad and finished in 5hr 38mins. Took 17th place in the singlespeed field. Not bad! The winning singlespeed (Topher) was within an hour from me so I was excited to see I didn't slip too far back. I was faster than last year (5:45 vs 6:04) and with a flat tire and nasty headache so I'm excited about that.

All in all, I beat myself up and somehow survived. Happy with my performance (it is still early in the season) but need to better gauge consumption with my camelbag. I guess I'm paranoid I'll come up empty in a spot of the course where I really need to drink. Water bottles are pointless on terrain like that for I'll just loose them with all the rocks (I started with one as a back-up but lost it within the first 5 miles).

Monday, May 05, 2008

NYC hustle & flow comp

What is it? The NYCMTB Hustle & Flow Competition took place at the Highbridge trails in upper Manhattan. The same trails we did a cross country race at last year. It was a relay race with a rider in just about every bicycling discipline: cross country, downhill, road, super D and dirt jumping.

Friday night was spent at the Ghostship headquarters. Getting up at 4am and meeting up with the rest of our team was easier that way.

Suburban and bike trailer are packed. We're on the road! What a unique drive down I95 into Manhattan. Sketchy at times but thank goodness it was super early in the morning. We got to the trails around 7:30 or 8am. Bikes out of the trailer and we're rolling around looking for the start/finish.

Pete and Mike are up at the dirt jumps enjoying themselves and after a few minutes Pete comes up short and face plants. Glasses shatter and he's knocked out cold in the dirt. We all rushed up there to the dirt jump park and the ambulance was called. A local, Aaron, was shooting photos and caught the sequence:

Stevil Kinevil, over at Swobo has named this one "nap time":

Needless to say, Pete was shaken up for a while. He was rushed to the hospital for some CAT scans and the like thanks to the huge concussion he incurred. Sometimes you're doing well and other times you just come up short. It sthe nature of the beast. I am happy to say Pete is in full recovery and seems to be doing well as I type this (a few weeks later)!

After that painful way to start the morning our team, Team Ghostship, regrouped and reorganized who was doing what. Erik stepped in for Pete. The plan was Doug - cross country, Matt - road, Mike - downhill, Dave - super D and Erik - dirt jump. The XC rider went first. They rode up to the top of the cliffside the trails are at and met up with the dirt jumper. The Dirt jumper would then do a lap on the dirt jumps. When they were done the downhiller went and flew down the DH course back to the bottom (where the XC guy started). Once the DH guy got to the bottom the roadie went mashing the pedals up the paved sidewalk (I recall TimmyD, Sean and Myself hustling up that pavement on lap 1 last year. Near the top TimmyD took off. How he did that when we were all pedaling well over 100rpm I don't know. I do recall Sean and I just looked at each other like "How? WTF?". Haha. good times). When the roadie got to the top of the sidewalk the superD guy would come flying down this new trail (not there in the XC race last year) and he would come out at the finish line (where the XC guy started and the DH guy finished). The team with the fastest combined time wins.

First heat was sometime just before lunch. I rode up the XC loop a few times to get a feel for what its like going up. Last year's cross country race went down this section. Much different having to ride up! We were the fourth or fifth team to go in the first heat. For me, it was a mad sprint down the sidewalk and onto the trail up the cliffside. Pedaling like mad since I had my singlespeed. I was breathing so hard it felt like my heart was going to pop out of my chest. I just did my best to keep the cadence high and roll into the and out of the turns as efficiently as possible. As soon as I got up to the dirt jumps I was able to stop and pretty much fell to the ground. I laid there in the grass near the jumps trying to catch my breathe. I eventually came to and hopped back on the bike to spin around up and down the street to cool off.

Turns out we set the fastest time! Wow. I wasn't expecting that considering how horrible I felt. We had an hour or two to grab some lunch and hang out.

Some of us decided to play around at the bottom of the DH course:

Dave - with a clean X-Up off the last drop.



Seeing as we set the fastest time we got to go last on the final run of the day (run #2 basically). Same as last time except the final run added in the dirt jump loop. That was omitted from the qualifying run. Tensions were high. We wanted to win! We wanted to win because we knew we could and to do it for our boy Pete who was stuck in the hospital at the time.

I'm off to start off the Ghostship team right!

There were two minute gaps between starting riders from each time. Turns out they let the team infront of me go with only a 1 minute gap. Therefore I had a three minute gap on the team infront of me. This didn't affect me at all but little did I realize it was freaking my teammates out. They knew of the 2minute gap but had no idea I went 3minutes after the last team. We're the final team to go. Everyone's wondering if we could set another fast time and we also started slightly later than anyone knew. So, the thoughts were "Did Doug crash? Did something happen to him? We're f'd!"

Needless to say everyone rode just as hard as they normally would despite the stranget thoughts/worries running through everyone's minds.

Mike & Erik on the final run

Mike rolling through the finish of the DH course

the hand-off between Mike & Matt!

Dave finishing up the SuperD. Rumor has it he caught a few riders and passed them in some pretty technical sections. The overall course was so fast that it was very difficult to catch up to the rider infront of you. Put it this way, our overall time was 11minutes and change! Dave's bicycle is an extension of his own body. He is so fluent on a bicycle it is insane!

Some of the trail-side attractions:

So, what happened? We won! That's right. Our final run was only 8sec slower than our first (with the dirt jump added!). Turns out I had the longest stretch with a 5min 8sec duration on the seeding run. I beat that time by one second on the final run. The final run I actually felt stronger and was breathing better. I missed the fastest XC time by 6sec (fastest was 5:01). I did have the fastest XC time on the seeding run. The closest team to touch it was 7sec behind!

Both Matt and Dave did better on the final runs 2:10 vs 2:12 and 2:32 vs 2:50 respectively. Mike was consistent with the DH all day (exactly 1 minute). Mike was second fastest DH time of the day loosing to none other than World Cup downhiller Jurgen Beneke (1min -vs- 57sec). Not too shabby Mike! Well respected! Erik also set the fastest time on the dirt jumps with 29sec!

All in all, Ghostship Clothing had a wonderful day!

Some fun was had afterwards:

While everyone was playing around and packing up the Surburban and Trailer I hopped onto the train and raced down to Penn Station. Then raced out to NJ to pick up my new Jeep Cherokee. Then raced over to my parent's house to pick up some stuff I had there. Then raced back into Manhattan. Why? The awards ceremony was later on that evening (6pm-ish) at the Knitting Factory. It was coupled with the NYC premier of the new movie called "Seasons" by The Collective. I made it to the awards ceremony as soon as team Ghostship was called up to accept their awards. Tons of swag! Thanks Jamie Bogner and the crew at NYCMTB! Another quality event with top-notch supporters and sponsors!

There are some awesome photos here:

the long awaited Cohutta story

I apologize for I've been such a big slacker with writing on here the past few weeks. Lots have been going on. Mountain Bike season is in full effect!

I started writing about the 2008 Cohutta 100 here and never finished. Having let this slide for a few weeks, here's the (lonnng) rest of my observations/thoughts/confusion.

My race season started off with a shocker; trying to race 20miles in a super fast 4-lap race. I haven't done something like that since 2006 and my body definitely is not conditioned for something like that. Well, I take that back. Its just all excuses for why I did so poorly. With proper planning and a good head I'm sure I can do equally as well in those types of races.

Time to redeem: TimmyD and I travel deep into the South for the first NUE 100miler race. Left New Jersey sometime mid-day Thursday. Arrive down in Blacksburg, VA to see my brother and crash on his living room floor that evening. Not enough time to say hello to some ex-college-roomates and check out campus/town. Tim and I wanted to get down to the Ocoee River Basin with plenty of time to relax on Friday. Early to bed Thursday. Early to rise and hit the road. Quick stop at the Christiansburg Wal-Mart for some water and more food and we're en route to Tennessee.

Agh! Blacksburg VA sunset over Brush Mountain. I miss those views!

Tim's asleep. 18wheelers everywhere. I'm on the phone negotiating a new transmission for the Avant and I miss the exit off I75. Who knows when the next exit is so I yank the wheel into a center median turn-off.. You know. One of those locales where the Officers of the Peace hang out with their radar guns.

Northbound we go and we're off the highway heading east to Ocoee. Short while later we've pulled into our campground which just so happens to be less than a mile from the start/finish. Sweet! Even had almost the same site as last year to set up our tent. Tent is up bikes are functional. Time for a leisurely ride to the start/finish to pick up our numbers, submit our drop-bags and chat with friends.

Saw Barbara, the promoter, said hello. Ran into just about everyone else we know... Jessie, Elk, Garth, Topher, Harlan, Cheryl, Michelle, Dicky, Tomi etc... It was hot (85degF) and I wasn't used to these temperatures. Hmm. Gonna be an interesting race. Grabbed some free dinner and figured it was time to get back to camp and find sleep. Met our new campsite neighbors. A nice couple from the Knoxville area.

Asleep around 8 or 9pm. Awake around 6am for a 7am race start. So, apparently it rained pretty hard at times throughout the night. I was out cold and heard none of that. Hear no pounding rain drops on the tent. Stayed nice and dry despite not staking the tent down. We woke up to a fairly wet and damp campground. Hmm. Gonna be a wet day. Will it warm up? I think so. No arm warmers or leg warmers for me. Shorts, SS Jersey and undershirt. The usual "trying to wake up and get moving while its chilly out" morning. Cold oatmeal down the throat. Changed, water bottles filled (ran two), jersey pockets full of supplies (tools, food etc) and we're off to find the start.

At the starting line Tim disappeared up front on the line. I found a happy spot about 30ft behind the starting line next to Topher. Everyone is bundled up since it was a cold morning. I looked out of the ordinary but knew it would warm up to 85 so I dealt with the cold shivers. I recall hearing Bruce Dickman (whom Tim and I labeled as "the Mouth of the South") shouting for Shey Linder's presence at the start line. Guess Shey was a tad late.

And we're off! I recall from last year there's two short road climbs and then a hard right into some singletrack. Granted the majority of this course is fireroad, I wanted to get into that singletrack early so we can just flow without having to slam on our brakes. Hustle up those road climbs! I saw Elk and Topher on the first climb amongst many other singlespeeders (there were 40+ of us!) all spinning like mad. Caught up to Danielle as we crested the first hill and with a suicide roadie tuck I pulled away from her letting my momentum and low aerodynamic drag pull me forward. Saw Dicky sitting up pedaling. Hmm. Strange. Oh wow! He decided to do this race fixed. More power to him!

Up the second road climb and into the singletrack. Wet singletrack. I didn't throw it through the sweeping turns as fast as I wanted for fear of sliding out on the wet dirt. Too early to crash. Not smart riding if I did. Go easy and you'll come out on top. Lots of course remaining.. Somehow my super-fast coasting abilities on the two road downgrades got me into the singletrack before both Elk and Topher. I didn't realize this until we're on a relatively flat trail (albeit full of big rocks) coming back to the Ocoee Whitewater facility (that is when they caught up to me). Our trio road down here together with myself setting pace. Passed Matt Ferrari changing a flat. He didn't look happy. Coming closer to the WW facility. People out watching us now. There's a small creek crossing then a sharp left onto a wooden bridge. Topher makes the creek crossing look easy. Elk right on his wheel and I'm on Elk's wheel. I get halfway through it and front tire bobbles. Left foot clicks out. Momentum carries my body forward over the bars. I'm halfway over the bars and was able to pull myself back and get my foot back into the pedal. All while holding balance upright with a little endo of the front wheel. One swift movement and I'm back up and the bike is on two wheels and I'm riding out of the creek.

Across the bridge a sharp left onto a singletrack climb. Partway up chasing Topher and Elk and I hear "The Mouth of the South" screaming on a bullhorn harassing the riders. Front wheel feels funny but I muster on trying not to have to get off the bike infront of everyone (and risk ridicule). I heard Dicky and Tomi getting harassed. They must be right behind me. Matt F. comes flying by all of us. Damn! He's on a mission. Out of the view from the spectators. I look down and my front tire is compressed. Damn. Flat! I pull over. Wave hello and goodbye to both Tomi and Dicky and quickly find my CO2 to give the front tire a quick inflate. Please Stan's seal up my tire. I don't want to run a tube. I went through three tubes here last year (one including at this exact location). Not gonna do it again. 10g of CO2 and the tire appears to be holding air. On the bike and keep pedaling!

Some more climbing. I'm picking a few people off trying to get back up to Topher, Elk, Tomi and Dicky. Can't find them. Keep pedaling. Stand up and pedal. 34x20 likes you standing up! Down a quick singletrack descent. Front brake doesn't work. Damn. Did I break the front brake in that over-the-bars stunt? Somehow through the singletrack and back onto fire roads. Check the brake and realize my bell was in the way. The bell must have moved when I went over the bars. Simple tug and its back (keep it loose like my brake levers).

The early race fireroads were undulating and the climbs were short and steep. I knew they were short so I pushed it up them. Knowing most of the course was fire road I told myself to keep a relatively consistent pace. "Stay consistent and it'll all work out" was what I thought. "Dig deep for that super-low cadence to get up the steeps. Keep your back straight to avoid lower back strain. Don't swing the bars much to avoid excess waste of energy." It appeared to be working for I came up another climb and around a bend to see both Elk and Dicky. No signs of Topher and Tomi. Dicky and I pulled on Elk. I hoped Elk was okay for its unusual to see him like this. Had a few words with Dicky. He appeared to be in some zone very far away from any of this, including myself. A bit bothered by his recent dealings on the home-front and the promoter's choice of no-iPods at the event. Saw some super small rear cog (later realized it was a 17 with a 32 up front). That must have hurt. "Be consistent!" I thought. Bid my farewells and pulled on Dicky.

More climbing. More fire roads. I began to shiver some on the ridgelines. We were soaked from the muddy singletrack early on. Probably up to mile 25 by now. Things start going up. I stand up and just grind it out. Some ridiculously low cadence. standing up and just turning the cranks. I knew if I kept on pedaling I'd be consistent and would eventually get to the top. Look forward. Nothing but fire road. "When will it end?". Dragging on for what seemed like ever. "When did I last sit down? How long have I been pedaling out-of-the-saddle?". It seemed like an enternaty. Costa Rica taught me well. Down there you've got no choice but to go up. No choice but to stand up and pedal. I quickly learned how to sustain myself while standing up for very long periods of time.

Eventually I crest some pseudo ridgeline to Aid station 3. Probably around mile 35/40 right now. I'm shivering and the aid station volunteers are confused: "This guy just worked his ass off riding up this long climb and he's shivering?" Yup. 50deg temps and I was cold; even after working so hard. My chain was also loose. I tried tightening it up but realized I'm at the extent of the EBB. Need to take a link out. I'll do that [later] if the chain drops. Dicky showed up as I'm refilling my bottles. I then took off. Didn't want him in-front of me. Had enough food with me (was going 75% self-supported with just needing to stop for water).

More climbing but I knew I'm almost at the crest of the super-long climb in the center of the race. Knew I'm almost at mile 50. More undulating ridgelines but this was fun. The sun started coming out and warming things up. The trail started getting dry (its been damp and moist all day robbing us from low rolling resistance). Up down. Up down. Drop. Son-of-A! Chain drop. Chain back on. Keep pedaling. "Get to the bottom and you can shorten your chain at the next aid station". Mile down the road. drop. Back on. Mile down the road. Drop. Okay. Time to fix. I pull over and yank the rear wheel off. Pull out my chain tool and take a link out of my chain. Loosen up the EBB and readjust chain tension. Couple geared people pass but still no singlespeeders. Good. No less than 5 minutes later the chain tension is set and I'm on my merry way.

Up down. Up down. Finally down! This descent was so much fun. Throwing it all out with huge sweeping turns. "No one better be coming up the mountain otherwise.... dead." I thought. Kept on pushing the wide turns. Held more speed. So much fun and had plenty of time to stretch out a bit while descending. Good for my back and legs. In fact, I felt pretty good all day. No signs of cramping and I'm around mile 60/65 now. Might have been a bit behind on hydration knowing I was barely emptying one bottle per hour.

Bottom of the descent. Mile 75. aid station 4. Refilled my bottles and took off. Its flat for a few miles. Gotta keep the cadence high if I want to keep moving. I recall this hurting me last year. False flat pedaling super fast to keep pace. Muscles twitching. Itching for cramps. Not this year. I felt good. Must have been my nutrition. Pedal like mad. Coast. Pedal like mad. Coast. Stand up - pedal up the short incline. Cruise some more. This went on for a few miles. I'd see a few geared guys in sight but couldn't quite catch them. Kept on drinking for I knew it would turn up and I'd then be working hard and not drinking much. Sure enough. Sharp right turn onto another fire road and it went up. Stand up and keep on pedaling. Now I'm catching these geared guys! Their big rings can't save them now! Catch one guy. Pass him like he's standing still. Onto the next one. One after another. Switch-back after switch-back. Ridgeline... Descent into the next aid station. Mile 80 now? We're getting close. Everyone's fading. I'm getting stronger!

Michelle rolls into the aid station as I'm leaving with two full bottles. Next climb. I knew this was the last big climb so I gave it all. Caught up to Danielle and said she's got nothing to worry. Michelle is a bit behind but won't close (my assumption). Pulled on Danielle and some other geared folk. Standing up. One pedal stroke after another. Switch-back after switch-back. What is this? Do I see Tomi ahead? No way. I'd see Tomi around one bend and through the next one he'd disappear. Couldn't quite bridge that gap. Damn! A few more switch-backs later I come around and he's hopping on his bike from a good 'ole nature break. He's closer now. I can get him. Give it all. I know he's fixed and can't coast down the backside. Tactics despite friends. Pushed hard. My legs are twitching slightly. More water and food. Push harder. Got to the top and rocketed past Tomi. All in one split second I felt bad for passing him like that and I felt good for I achieved my short-term goal. He blurted something but I knew it was all in good fun.

Bomb the descent. Up some other short fire road. Right turn into the last singletrack. We're near the end now! 10miles to go. The singletrack was rough. Danielle caught back up and was on my wheel for a bit. I pulled away in the technical stuff but we came around another turn to some singletrack climb. Now I'm paying the price for pushing it to catch Tomi. Feeling the worst I've felt all day but kept on pedaling. More food. More water. Danielle caught back up and we're rocking the singletrack. Caught up to two geared folk and had a little party at a very nice pace that was good for them and great for me. It kept my cadence high which meant I'm moving at a good clip. Around a tight right turn and my chain drops. F! Come on. My chain couldn't have stretched that much. Or did I not make it tight enough? Chain is back on but Danielle and co. are gone. Damn it. I lost my momentum through the singletrack. Mustered on and tried to keep the same pace but solo. It was difficult.

Finally. One turn and we're out of the singletrack onto a fire road descent. I know this area. The campsite is right around the corner. 1mile to go! "Give it all despite how much it will hurt." Pedal. Pedal. Pedal. Turn over that insanely high cadence! Try holding a 100+ rpm cadence for a mile of gradual uphill road after racing/riding 99miles. Its hard but I did it. Roll into the parking lot and Topher's cheering me on. He's still in his riding garb. Hmm. Must have just finished. Pedal. Pedal. Right turn onto a bridge. Across bridge. Left turn and a mad sprint for the finish. Why sprint? What's an extra second going to get you? I don't know. Because I feel like it? Because it looks cool for the spectators? Personal preference.

9hours 14minutes (about the same time as last year, albeit no winter & spring training this year)

19th place singlespeed out of 40+

Clean up. Get some food in me (along with three Cokes). Break down camp. Car is packed. Awards ceremony (TimmyD podium'd). Chat with everyone. Bid goodbyes until Michaux. On the road. I'm absolutely exhausted. TimmyD is driving. We stop early for dinner. After dinner we're back on the road. I'm trying hard to stay awake but that doesn't last long. Think I fell asleep around Knoxville and slept through Bristol and around 90miles into Virginia. TimmyD is tired so we pull over (12:30/1am). Find a good rest stop. Pull out the thermarests and sleeping bags and go to sleep on the grass of some rest stop. 7am wake up and we're on the road heading north. I drive for a few hours. Up in West Virginia we stop for food. Pouring rain. TimmyD gets behind the wheel to get us to New Jersey. I'm back in CT later that evening.

Felt great that Sunday and Monday after the race. Legs were a little stiff but nothing a nice easy spin to and from work on the fixed gear wouldn't clear up. I was actually surprised by how well I felt. Went mountain biking on the singlespeed for almost three hours that Wednesday and felt great. Definitely was tired but had enough in the tank to get a good ride in and push it hard for almost three hours. I was beat afterwards but it was a great ride! Guess my body is liking my nutrition and recovery practices this year.

Next 100miler is the Mohican. Lets hope I will not revisit the dehydration monster this year.....