Thursday, June 24, 2010

crash and burn

I was out on my weekly Wednesday night mountain bike ride. This Wednesday it was insanely hot; pushing 90F and really high humidity. So hot we didn't really feel like riding but kept pedaling.... slowly.

The front hub on my Mavic wheel is messed up so I opted not to ride the Superfly but take my Cannondale 29er 1x9 out today.

An hour and a half into the ride the temperature dropped. Probably in the upper 70s now. What a sigh of relief. We started feeling better and started riding a bit faster. The plan was to head down this trail, hop across the forest service road and up the next big climb. Then head out to the powerlines and ride the powerlines into the woods behind Bob's house. Final destination: Bob's house where we started. Easy enough. We do loops like this every week.

2 hours in, 7pm, we're having a good time. I come over a giant rock and somehow dropped my chain. Stopped and put the chain back on. Bruce and Andy took off. I've been feeling strong all day (probably residual from Translyvania Epic) so I decided to pick up the pace a bit.

Out of the saddle, cranking those pedals and shifting further down the cassette. Had some great lines through these scattered rock gardens. Hauling ass now too (20mph? not sure, but it was really fast. faster than I normally ride some of those trails.). Next thing I know my front wheel does not get over a rock the sized of a six pack of beer. Probably because I was leaning forward a bit as I was out of the saddle pedaling a pretty big gear. My bike washes down and I keep going forward. Arms behind me and I'm soaring in the air like Superman. Only to land face first into another grouping of rocks.

My left temple takes the brunt of the impact and my face slides along the ground with tons of dirt filling up my mouth as my lower lips and jaw are dragged across the earth and rocks. Came to a standstill not that far from where I hit ground. Probably two feet or so.

Ouch. My face hurt really bad. I sat up and was spitting all kinds of stuff out of my mouth. First thing I thought of was my teeth. As I'm spitting shit out of my mouth I'm worried a lot of it is my teeth. Quick scan of my mouth with my tongue reveals all teeth intact. Well, I think so.

More stuff coming out of my mouth. Lots of blood and dirt. Bob shows up as he was behind me a ways. Andy and Bruce are further down the trail out of sight (I later found out they heard the impact of me hitting the ground. Wow!). My chest is full of dirt (jersey was open because it was super hot out). My left arm is black from dirt and my left glove is shredded. Right arm is full of dirt and my right knee has a huge scratch on it (like road rash).

I never lost consensus and was awake for the whole ordeal. I was very alert and mobile when speaking to Bob and trying to evaluate the situation. My head did not hurt but my fact hurt really bad. It felt very swollen. Bob gave me a tissue he had and told me to hold it up against this cut on my face near my left nostril. I am still spitting blood up.

When the spitting of blood lessened a fair amount I finally got up and found my bike (10-20ft away from me off the trail). Bike was fine and I started walking out. We were very close to the forest service road. I get out onto the forest service road and both Andy and Bruce were like:

"What the fuck? Holy Shit!"

This is not a good sign. Here I am thinking I have just some road rash on my face.

"Its just a scratch."

But I got on my bike and pedaled slowly down the forest service road back to Bob's house. Felt okay pedaling. A bit shaken up and my thighs hurt when trying to climb but otherwise I was okay. Not shaky on the bars or anything.

We get back to Bob's house (around 7pm) and I look at myself in the mirror of my Jeep.

"Oh Fuck. This isn't good."

Now I saw the cut on my check near my nostril. I also opened my mouth and saw this huge 'hole' between my lower front teeth and lips. (turns out I ripped my gums away from my teeth and there was a huge cavity between my teeth and my lower lips) I almost passed out and had to sit down in the driveway for a minute.

My new Uvex helmet is destroyed. It did its job and I am very thankful for it. It protected me and I have not had any headaches or internal head pains. I now swear by these helmets. It did not move one bit from the impact. It was in the same spot on my head as when I put it on at the start of the ride.

I left a message for my girlfriend and then used Bob's shower to wash all the dirt and sweat off of me. It stung so bad when I rinsed my face. I'd leave the soap and cleaning of my face to the doctors.

Right after I took a shower at Bob's. I then went over to my friend Joey's around the corner. He works in Hartford Hospital and is a long time friend so I had him take me to the hospital since he was closer than my girlfriend.

At the hospital around 8/8:30. Check-in at the ER went smoothly. 30minutes later I'm in a room and a physician's assistant was helping me. I called my friend Becca, whom is a doctor in the ER, to see if she was working. It was her night off but she did talk to my PA about getting a specialized for mouth and faces to come in and fix me up.

Sitting in the ER, waiting for the doc.

The mouth and face doc showed up around 10pm and got to work. The numbing of my face hurt the most. The first needle was okay. I tensed up but was able to relax myself. The second needle caused me to pass out. I forgot that I get like this with needles. 10sec later I come to and am all sweaty. There are quite a few more people in the room helping. One putting oxygen on me and the other inverting the bed so the blood flows down into my head. A few minutes later I was okay. My lower lip was somewhat numb so I didn't really feel the next couple needles of anesthesia.

First order of business was to flush out my mouth and clean out my gums. Then sew it up. Four or five giant tubes of salene wash and some picking of rocks and debris with tweezers everything was clean. I forgot how many sutures were put in my lower lip/gum line but it was probably upwards of 10. The entire front of my mouth had to be sewn up.

Second order of business was to sew up the cut on my face near my left nostril. More salene wash and around five or six sutures and that was cleaned up.

Third order of business was the vertical gash on my upper lip, moustache area. I think that was two sutures.

Took about 40 minutes to close me back up. The PA then cleaned up the scratches on my face and finally looked at the scratch on my right knee, left shoulder and fore-arms (very minor). Got some oral antibotic and ibuprofen for the swelling and we were out of the hospital around 11:30pm.

My girlfriend was already at my house and took care of my dog for me (thanks!). She kept an eye on me last night. I actually, surprisingly, slept well. Woke up every couple of hours but quickly went back to bed. I slept on my back and right side. Got up around 7:30/8am and washed my face and put a new batch of neosporin on. Swelling also looked like it is slowly coming down.

The next morning. All sewn up. The Doc did a good job.

I feel fine. I am alert and mobile. I took today off to rest on the couch and wound up spending the bulk of the afternoon catching up on blog entries from the Translyvania Epic. I do not really feel any pain unless I move my mouth around a lot (then the internal sutures hurt really bad). The swelling is annoying. That's really all. Annoying feeling of the swelling and sore cheek. My teeth feel fine (no pain) and my jaw has no pain. The doc said some of my teeth look like they may be fractured even though they are intact and don't hurt. Therefore I have to call my dentist and have him take a look at things.

Took a while to get some oatmeal down in me for breakfast but I got it to work. I picked up some yogurt and fresh fruit smoothies to eat. Cooked two eggs, ham and cheese for lunch. If I break it up into small chunks I can eat the food. Eating is slow going. If I get food caught infront of my teeth it hurts to flush it out with my tongue so I've been trying water.

I am very fortunate. My helmet saved me from many horrible things. If my helmet was not properly fitted and positioned I would probably have some internal head trauma. I have what I call "cosmetic issues". Its just deep cuts that will heal with time. No achy joints or anything.

Things happen when you push yourself. I was riding faster than normally would because I felt good and wanted to go faster. I am paying the consequence for pushing myself a little too far. That is life.

I hope to be back on the bike in two to three weeks. We'll see what the doctor says when he removes the sutures. I was told SPF50 and stay out of the sun as much as possible for the next six months. Looks like I'll have to put a visor on my helmet and load up on lots of sunscreen when I'm in Breckenridge in August. Don't want the scar tissue to get damaged.

2010 TSE - Day Seven

We had a great time last night. It wound up raining late in the night which got the trails all nice and wet for the last stage of the race.

Stage seven would be a 20mile look that followed part of the first stage but extended out further away from camp. At the halfway point there was a decent climb to start the trek back towards camp.

Us singlespeeders called a truce and decided we would all ride together and enjoy the day. We also decided that we'd finish the stage in the reverse order as our GC position. Since there are six of us this would put three of us on the podium for the first time all week (second when talking about Dave).

Photo: Peter

Upon arriving at the starting line we quickly realized Greg was onto something. He arrived with a backpack full of beer.

Photo: Peter

With the Men's Open and Master's Men fields in close battle the starting line was certainly split into two halves. The ones competing up front and the ones having a good time in the back. A mullet of a starting line-up if you will. We each had our starting line beer and a few minutes after Mike and Ray called "Go" we were off on our casual, merry way.

Once we got to the top of Sand Mountain road and a bit into the singletrack it was time to stop and get more beer.

Photo: Peter

The moto whom was sweeping the course and collecting arrows caught up to us. We were officially the last ones on course.

Photo: Peter

More riding continued and we got to a rocky section where Peter wanted to film us.

Photo: Peter

We rode some more. Dicky would pull ahead of use as if he was trying to attack the group. The remainder of us would ride together and I'd slowly reel Dicky back in. When we got to the halfway point it was another beer and we walked the climb together. Shortly beyond that was the aid station.

Photo: Peter

We rode by an Omish family that were out for a nice ride.

Photo: Peter

We eventually got back to the finish line... Just about three hours after we started!

Vegan, Peter and Dave duked it out for the podium

Greg, Dicky and I would come in next. Little did we know Dicky had something in store for us. It was supposed to be Dicky, myself and Greg. Dicky stopped short about a foot or two from the finish line. I stopped short as well. Greg was not paying attention. He was upright taking his gloves off. Next thing he knows we are stopped so he comes ramming into the back of my bike and fell.

A few minutes later we, eventually, finished with Dicky, myself and Greg respectively.

What an awesome week of biking. This was by far the most fun I have had in a stage race.

The stage was:
1st singlespeed: Vegan at 2hrs 50mins
2nd singlespeed: Peter
3rd singlespeed: Dave
4th singlespeed: Dicky at 2hrs 52mins
5th singlespeed: myself
6th singlespeed: Greg

Overall it was finalized:
1st singlespeed: Greg at 17hours, 11minutes even
2nd singlespeed: myself at 17hours, 29minutes, 5sec (roughly 18mins back)
3rd singlespeed: Dicky at roughly 30mins behind Greg and 13mins behind me

2010 TSE - Day Six

I've been looking forward to this day since we finished stage two. Today would be another day similar to stage two except not as humid. Rocky singletrack and good ridgeline trails. In face, we were riding the Tussey Ridgeline trail, the best trail in the state forest surrounding State College.

The night before I had the good folks at Freeze Thaw Cycles replace my broken spoke, true my wheel and replace my Stan's yellow rim strip and valve core. I also switched over to a new set of WTB Wolverine 29x2.2 tires. Nice high volume tire for the rocks since one of my Maxxis Crossmark 29x2.1 had a hole in it and I didn't have time to find it and patch it.

I woke up and had a good breakfast. Felt pretty good. My diarrhea was subsiding. Well, enough to keep me away from the bathroom for an extended period of time.

Today would be another, and the last, remote start. We'd have a neutral roll-out along a forest service road. Then an 8ish mile climb up a rocky and grassy jeep trail. Across the ridge and down a very rocky descent (used in the Stoopid 50). Then onto the three bridges trail which we ride in the W101. Then out to an aide station and up onto Tussey Ridge. Ride the Tussey Ridgeline trail (we did this in the SSWC05) for a few miles and then duck down the backside of the ridge on an awesome fast singletrack trail. Onto a gravel road and a right onto a paved road. A few paved roads (2-3miles perhaps) and then a short climb up a doubletrack. Crest the top of the climb and roll into the finish. 25miles long. Fun stuff.

My plan was to ride hard and try to keep Dicky either in my sights or behind me. I had a nine minute lead on him and he kept on telling me that if I got another flat those nine minutes would be gone. This got to me and my descending was reserved for the day. Stupid head games. Us singlespeeders also decided that if the General Classification does not change today then tomorrow, the last stage, we are doing a 'fun' ride and enjoying the day. So, basically, today was the last day of 'racing' for us.

We started off the climb alright. It was hot and humid on this climb so things were tough. I stayed with Dicky the whole climb up and across the ridgeline. Greg was way out back hanging out with Peter and the two of them did not realize that the race actually started. Greg caught up to Dicky and I as we dropped into the Stoopid50 trail. The insane rocky descent.

I worked so hard to stay with Dicky on the climb that my balance was all messed up trying to go down this descent. As a result we let Greg through and Dicky let me go infront of him. Near the bottom I felt better and picked up the pace a little. I made it through the early part of Three Bridges Trail no problem but the later part was tough. It is so much fun to ride it in the opposite direction (the way the W101 goes) but in the direction we rode it was hard to rest and recover from the first climb. I somehow found a way and found a good rhythm over the rocks. Caught up to Selene as she was leading the women's field overall and for the day. We rolled into the first aid station together. Greg was standing there with this dumbfounded look on his face. He wasn't expecting to see me and quickly took off up to the ridgeline. Selene rode through the aid station and I stopped to refill a bottle.

As I was leaving the aid station and started climbing up to the ridgeline I could hear Dicky screaming my name. Screaming in an effort for me not to forget he's behind me. Again: head games.

I caught back up to Selene and the two of us duked it out with the Moto. Both wishing the Moto was not on trail for the exhaust stunk and he was riding as fast or slower than us. We eventually passed him and I eventually passed Selene and bridged up to Greg halfway down the ridgeline.

"Do I attack Greg or do I just ride with him and enjoy the remainder of the day?"

Greg had a gap of around 18minutes on me. We are between mile 15 and 20 of a 25mile day. I can't make up that time. I also worked hard on the first half of the course and was having trouble recovering, yet still found a way to continue riding hard.

I decided to ride with him rather than attack.

Greg riding the Tussey Ridgeline.

Selene on the ridgeline with Karen Potter in hot pursuit.

Greg and I finished the ridgeline together loving every foot of the trail. The views were magnificent and the riding was top notch. We descended down the windy trail along the backside. Greg would pull away from me since I was descending very conservatively. I'd then catch back up on the next traverse or incline.

Dicky trying to catch back up to Greg and I on the ridgeline trail.

Dave having a blast up on the ridgeline

Peter cringing in paint with the rocky trail and giant blisters on his hands.

At some point I pulled past Greg and got to the bottom out onto the road first. He quickly caught up with Selene right on his wheel. Selene picked up the pace when she realized Karen caught up to her. On the road Selene took off while Greg and I rode at a decent pace to keep moving but not kill ourselves.

On one road there was a six feet long snake laying in the road. Greg was stoked to see it and I freaked out like Indiana Jones does.

"I hate snakes, Jock! I hate 'em!"

I rode around it as far away from the snake as I could and the two of use mustered on. We weren't sure how much further to go but figured the end should come soon. I looked at my watch and we were on track for a 2.5 race. That gave us another 15minutes of riding.

Shortly thereafter we turned onto the doubletrack climb. The last climb of the day. Greg set pace and I forced myself to stay with him. It hurt, my legs were starting to cramp from such a hard effort that day. I stuck with it and ultimately finished the stage right behind Greg. one two.

Greg, 1st singlespeed for the day at 2hrs 20mins

Myself taking 2nd singlespeed for the day at 2hrs 20mins and 2seconds behind him.

Race director Mike Kuhn snapped this right after Greg and I finished.

Dicky rolled in at 3rd place about five minutes later.

Awesome day. I had a lot of fun and was relieved that the racing was done for the week.

Photo: Peter

After dinner we had a little party.

Photo: Peter

And did some interviews:



Thom Parsons made an appearance

2010 TSE - Day Five

I was up all night after our day at Raystown. Back and forth to the bathroom. None of the food or drink I put down would stay down. This was my problem the week before the Translyvania Epic. This was also a problem the day Dave and I were traveling to the event. It slowly went away with the help of some pro-biotic yogurt. Unfortunately I was out of pro-biotic yogurt and didn't have time to drive into State College to buy any.

Fortunately for me, Day five would be sort of a 'rest day'. The format for today is completely different than any other day in this event. It kind of reminded me of the 9 day stage race I did in India. We would ride casually, as a group, to the first timed section. Then there was a 5-10min sprint through this timed section. We'd all regroup and move onto the next sprint location as a group. Four total sprints for the day. As long as I stuck with Greg and Dicky then I'd be okay. Could I do that while trying to recover and get rid of whatever was in me?

Peter brought his dancing pants.

I felt O.K. at the start. The first timed leg was long. There were mixed talk about whether us singlespeeders should go hard or just 'ride' and take it easy today. Once we stared I think that all kind of got thrown out the window. Or was it me that threw it out the window?

1st 'mini XC':
Greg was off the front. I was somewhere behind him and Dicky behind me. Dicky managed to pass me as a tree branch wedged itself through my rear wheel taking me to a stand-still.


he said as he passed me. I quickly removed the tree branch and went off after him. Passed him right as the trail was turning very rocky and going downhill. Greg went on to take 1st SS, myself 2nd and Dicky third.

2nd 'mini XC':
Mass start down a gravel road to a right turn pile-up onto singletrack. Greg somehow got into the singletrack before us and Dicky and I squeezed in right infront of the tandem. I managed to get in ahead of him and cruised this rocky singletrack right on Karen Potter's wheel. Greg took 1st SS, myself 2nd and Dicky third.


We had a nice casual lunch and then a nice casual ride to the start of the 3rd leg.

3rd 'mini XC':
The start was uphill on a grassy jeep trail. I felt really good when we started so I took off. Everyone's riding the two tire paths so I went up the middle. Made it to the top where the trail crested with Mark Weir and the WTB guys right next to me and the top leaders off the front of us. The WTB guys took off and I did my best to stay somewhat near them.

Right turn onto a dried up creekbed. Rocks galore. Huge rocks too. more like boulders. Somehow I was able to stay off the saddle and keep on pedaling and rode right through them. Caught up to a bunch of 26inch wheeled guys and passed them. The trail then smoothed out and eventually crossed a running creek.

I felt good going through the creek but did not fare too well whilst exiting the other side. Flat rear tire. I rode it as much as I could hoping the Stan's would seal it up. No dice. Then I saw the cones on the trail marking something like 100m left to go. Screw it. I'm winning the singlespeed field for this leg, albeit insignificant for the overall, so I'll keep going. I rode the bike to the finish on the rim. Greg passed me within a bike length before the finish. Damn. Almost.

Abe got a good photo of Dicky rolling through the creek.

Quickly changed my flat with the cyclocross tube I had and realized I also had a broken spoke. Guess that was from the tree branch on leg 1.

4th 'mini XC':
Not wanting to flat a second time I took it easy on this one. Lots of rocky singletrack again. It took us back down towards the parking lot. Greg and Dicky went ahead of me and I did my best to not flat. Wish I could have ridden this leg faster for it was a lot of fun but I did my best damage control. It worked.

Somewhere far ahead of us Mark Weir gapped the road that we had to cross. Insane!

Photo from WTB FaceBook page

We finished up the day with some food and then piled back in the car and made our way to the campground.

No change to the overall today (Greg 1st, myself 2nd and Dicky 3rd) except Dicky, once again, stood on the podium all by his lonesome.

Photo: Peter

Photo: Peter

I actually felt good during the day and the format for the day allowed me to recover well. My sights were set on stage 6 seeing as it was going to be another rocky day like stage 2. The evening was okay on my internals. I actually slept this evening.

What did Dicky think about today?

What did Buffalo Bill think about today?

2010 TSE - Day Four

Today would be an awesome day of riding but a horrible day of recovering post race.

Dicky drank a lot of alcohol the night before. I rested for the last '10 miles' of stage three took a lot out of me and I wanted to have some fun on stage 4.

Stage Four was at Raystown MTB Trails which was about an hour or so from the campground. Word on the street is that these trails are some of the most spectacular fast and flowy singletrack trails in PA. Built by IMBA and a blast to ride. Everyone rides with a smile and goes home with a giant smile.

A little preview of what was in store for us from local riders last fall.

Another hot day but it was sunny. Start was delayed because someone forgot their cycling shoes back at camp. Once everyone was at the start/finish and ready to ride we started the race. Total of around 30-38miles for the day. 100% fast singletrack. Wow. Awesome!

I opted for my very own, custom, Team Dicky jersey.

Photo: Peter

The start consisted of a road climb for an 1/8 mile to 1/4 mile. As I was climbing out of the saddle I watched in sheer amazement of how quickly Mark Weir was pedaling up that incline. He and his WTB buddies wanted into the singletrack first and it showed. I felt pretty good and that got me into the singletrack ahead of all the other singlespeeders. Greg caught up to me prior to entering the singletrack so he was right on my wheel. Wow. The first few seconds on those trails were so much fun. Throwing the bike into turns. Hauling ass around a bend to the next one. Pure bike handling skills coupled with strength to pedal fast.

Greg and I were enjoying the pace I set (tried to set a pace that wouldn't blow me up) and were just chatting as we rode. A gentleman's race if you will. Not really paying much attention, I heard a rider coming up on Greg and Greg letting them pass. Naturally, I let them go as well but without looking. Dicky came speeding past us.


While we immediately took off after him I was also complaining to Greg for letting Dicky by. We stuck to Dicky's wheel and the three of us motored through the awesome singletrack. Probably 5 to 10 minutes later Dicky sits up with a "That's all I've got" and let us pass him. As we passed he was laughing. He just fooled us.

We mustered on with myself setting pace and Greg following. Garth eventually caught up to us and Dicky was a few seconds back. Enough to see on previous switchbacks. I was slowly starting to fade but tried not to show it. Eventually both Greg and Garth passed me and kept on going. I did my best to stick with Garth's wheel but that did not last long and they disappeared. Meanwhile, Dicky was somewhere close behind. He'd eventually pull back up to me and set pace and then I'd set pace. Back and forth and eventually I got out infront of him and pulled away.

An awesome photo Abe snapped.

Probably halfway through the race we came up to a gravel road. The trail we were on kept going straight and the course direction arrow appeared to be pointing straight. Not thinking anything of it I kept going straight. A few minutes down the trail I see both Greg and Garth riding towards me at a high rate of speed screaming "Wrong way!". I turned around and saw Dicky not that far behind me, also turning around.

"We pulled a 'Dave' and made a wrong turn. Son-of-A..."

We were supposed to turn left and go up the gravel road. Guess now the singlespeed race was starting over. Greg led us out with Dicky right on his wheel and myself on Dicky's wheel. Garth pulled on all of us and took off up the climb. I passed Dicky and did my best to stay with Greg. I felt okay but not well enough to stay right on Greg's wheel as he slowly pulled away from me. Slowly..

Up to the top and back into the singletrack. I couldn't see Greg but kept on riding as hard as I could. Perhaps I'd catch back up but at the same time I'd minimize the time he puts on me if I keep riding hard.

At one point I thought I was lost again. I was all by myself and didn't see a course marking for quite a while. Part of me wanted to stop and backtrack while the other part of me wanted to keep on going because the trail was so much fun. Eat and drink and ride fast. I kept on going and eventually got to a sweeping left turn where at the apex of the turn there was some coursemarking tape and I saw another racer. Sweet. Guess I'm going in the right direction.

I eventually came back out onto the road at the bottom of the climb from the start. Down a little descent to a big sweeping left turn to the finish line. WOW, that was some of the most fun I have had racing/riding a bicycle.

Greg took 1st place singlespeed in 2hrs 44minutes.

Dave 'Fourth Place' Cormier snuck in and took 2nd place singlespeed in 2hrs 47minutes. Guess he got ahead of use when we were off-course.

I finished in 3rd place singlespeed at 2hrs 48minutes

Dicky was not on the podium as he finished 4th.

Peter, Dicky and I packed up Dicky's truck and made our way back to camp. We made a pit stop at Subway for some food. The heat did a number on me that day and my diarrhea came back in full force when we got to Subway. (I had it the week prior to the race and days zero and one.). This plagued me for the remainder of the night. I was in a world of hurt and not sure how I'd hold onto 2nd place overall, or even try to close the gap and possibly get into 1st.

Photo: Peter

2010 TSE - Day Three

Day three was going to be a tough one for us singlespeeders. A lot of road and a lot of flat early on. Not something I enjoy.

We woke up to some rain. Excellent. A lot of road and a lot of flat early on with rain. This will be 'fun'.

The course started at the campground and ended at the campground. We rode out a bit of the prologue course from day 1 and then came down the backside of the ridge and made our way towards Coburn. Rolled around in Coburn and towards the fisherman's trail (which we ride in the opposite direction in the W101). Then up a good jeep trail climb (which we also ride in the W101) and then to the carriage road (again... W101 course) to eventually the big climb of the day (don't recall it being in the W101). Big climb to the second aid station and, supposedly, 10 miles to go. I think it was more than 10miles from there on out. Up the climb we descended in the beginning to get up over the ridge and descend down into the campground.

Everything started out great. The rain stopped, but the trails were wet, and we had a good ride out of the campground. Upon entering the doubletrack Dicky was fooling around and had a good fall; skinning his left leg really good.

Shortly thereafter was a technical climb and I just couldn't hang with Greg. I couldn't ride this hard 30minutes into a race. I did what we all fear.. Got off the bike and walked a 10-20ft section. I needed to break up the monotony and, unfortunately, it came quite early. Back on the bike and Greg was gone.

Up and down over the ridgeline and onto some gravel and paved roads. Dicky and Dave caught up and the three of us rode for a bit. We'd pull away from Dicky on the descents but he'd be back with us on the next climb. The last, longer, descent I was able to pull away from the two of them as we rode down into the Coburn valley. Onto some wet, paved roads I was all by myself. Rolled into the aid station & refilled one bottle. Somewhere beyond the aid station I saw someone catching up to me. Wasn't sure who it was and it turned out to be Karen Potter. Little did I realized Dicky was close behind.

Up this short little incline on the road and Dicky came flying past me. I hoped on his wheel and followed him up the road as we left Karen. Across the crest of the road and down the backside I rolled away from Dicky. Karen caught back up and I did my best to draft her on what was now a wet dirt road (got lots of dirt in my eyes). We pulled away from Dicky and rolled into the fisherman's trail together.

I took the lead on the fisherman's trail and high tailed it; consequently pulling away from Karen. Out of the fisherman's trail and onto a decent climb. The first of two major climbs for the day. Having ridden this climb in the W101 (backwards relative to TSE) I knew how long it was. I found a cadence and my carrot (a red blur off in the distance) and kept at it. Pedal stroke after pedal stroke that red blur would get closer to me. Eventually I was able to make out who it was (can't see much at a distance without my glasses): Rebecca Rusch. I eventually caught up to her and passed her before cresting the top and rolling down the backside; pulling away from her.

Right turn onto a gravel road and rolled on more somewhat flat gravel roads until we found the even more flat, carriage road. Rebecca caught up to me and passed me as we entered the carriage road. Still no sign of Greg. I was hoping I could match Rebecca's pace and have her 'pull' me up to Greg as we'd roll down the carriage road but that didn't work out too well. I couldn't keep her pace as she shifted into high gear and took off. Needless to say I was left to pedal my singlespeed down this long, straight flat road all by my lonesome. Not a happy camper.

My time on the carriage road was spent with the red of Rebecca slowly fading off into the distance ahead of me and no one in sight as I looked over my shoulder to survey behind me. Not sure how much time passed but I rolled up to the tunnel. A volunteer was telling me to slow down and I eventually did, knowing there were huge boulders in this dark, earthen tunnel. We ride through this tunnel in the W101 but in the opposite direction and I remember there being some big rocks. Turns out the rocks were pushed aside and one could ride straight through the middle without any obstacles. If I knew that I would have kept my speed.

Through the tunnel and down a shorter section of the carriage road. Then across a narrow bridge.

Beyond this we eventually made our way to the biggest climb of the day. No sign of Greg ahead of me and no sign of Dicky behind me. I'm still riding all alone. Feeling pretty good I did exactly what I did on the last climb: found a good pace and stuck with it. Stood up and just kept turning those pedals. Standing with the fork locked out helped my pedaling a lot. Not much water left in my bottles but I felt good so I pushed it. Motoring up this climb I saw Rebecca again and worked to catch back up with her. I caught her as we rolled into the aid station at the top.

Supposedly it was 10more miles but it definitely felt a lot longer than that. I don't run a computer and just go by time via my watch. I was also quite tired from riding up the two big climbs rather quickly. Rebecca left me yet again as she could ride faster on the forest service roads as I could. I enjoyed the views when I did get some and just kept telling myself to keep on pedaling.

As I got closer and the terrain was becoming more familiar I realized we have to ride up the slippery and muddy descent we did early on in the day. We needed to get back up and over this ridgeline. Ugh.. Not looking forward to that. To throw another monkey wrench into the mix the sky opened up with a torrential downpour. I thought I heard thunder at times. The rain was coming down so fast and in such large quantities that the rain drops felt like bee stings as it hit my skin as I was flying down the forest service road. The water did help keep me cool but too cool. I was starting to shiver at times. ugh oh.

I eventually got to the last climb of the day. Still no one ahead of me and no one behind me. I hope Greg didn't put too much time into me today. I kind of figured I lost 1st overall and moved back into 2nd place and just tried to minimize the damages. This climb sucked. I couldn't gain any traction. I needed to stand up to pedal but my tire would spin out. I wound up walking the lower half and walking/riding the upper half.

Luckily I got back on the bike as I crested the top and Abe snapped this photo of me.

Over the top and across Sand Mountain Road. Home stretch!

Through the doubletrack/singletrack where Dicky spun out early in the race. Down the paved road to the campground. Couldn't catch anyone and no one caught me.

Finished the 45mile day in 2nd place singlespeed; 3hours and 49minutes.

Greg finished 1st singlespeed in 3hrs 34minutes. Ouch! 14minutes on me.

Dicky finished three minutes behind me.

Photo: Peter

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

2010 TSE - Day Two

Day two would ultimately turn out to be one of the best days I have had racing a bicycle. It was also one of the most difficult days of the Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Today we had a remote start and rode back towards camp. 40miles, mostly singletrack with the end being gravel and paved road. Race start was around 10:30am (kind of late relative to what I am used to for stage races but we ultimately got used to it).

Profile from TSE website

Actual GPS data from Mike Cushionbury.

Let me see if I can remember the terrain:

The start would take us down some gravel roads and hang a right into a rocky singletrack climb. We would crest that descent a loose and rocky descent out onto a grassy jeep trail. I remembered the grassy jeep trail from the W101. That jeep trail was undulating and ended up where aid station 3 is within the W101 (mile 60 of that race I think). Rather than heading up a singletrack climb like we did in the W101 we went up a gravel climb. Somewhere in here was the first aid station. After the aid station was more singletrack that eventually turned upward to Slate Ridge (I think). Rocky Singletrack along the ridge and down the backside. Rip through some singletrack within the valley and onto aid station two. Some more singletrack and out onto a gravel road. This gravel road took is all the way over to rt322. Through a tunnel (we ride this in the W101) and up the access road alongside rt322. This is the last climb of the day. Left onto the access road to the scout camp and a 1/4 mile or so into camp for the finish.

Shuttle service was provided via a school bus. Ray and Mike fabricated some nifty trailers to carry our bicycles. Due to a VIP being with us; Peter, Dicky and myself received a private shuttle to the remote start by Mike Kuhn's wife.

"The Body" was ready and enjoying the private shuttle. As an Ex-Governor comes to expect.

We arrived to find all the bicycles neatly organized at the start.

Found our bikes and rode around a bit to 'warm up'. Not much of a warm up seeing as it was already quite hot and humid. More like pedal around lightly and sweat.

Once Garth signed in for the day (he was the last one to sign in) we had a little meeting and then the race started.

Race Start with WTB guys leading the pack out.

Right past a cool barn where Abe snapped such an awesome shot.

The singletrack climb sucked. I don't do well with huge efforts at the beginning of races. I was climbing horribly and my lower back became enflamed (as it does when my posture is horrible). Breathing heavy and sweat pouring out of everywhere. Greg and 'The Body' pulled away from me like I was standing still. Somehow I made it to the top and began the descent. Either I was exhausted from the climb or my head was not on straight but I could not ride fast down that descent. I kept slamming on the brakes and scrubbing speed. Thoughts ran through my head:

"If this is how you are going to ride big mountain PA then you are going to suck."

Somehow made it to the bottom and made the left onto the next trail. Tried to recover but the trail had some up to it. Eventually got onto the gravel road climb. I found a rhythm on the gravel road climb and was able to recover and pick my pace up. I remember the singletrack at the top and down the backside of this climb to be super fun. I forgot about my fears on the previous descent and stayed away from the brakes for quite a bit of it. Throwing the bike into turns and over rocks and fallen trees. So much fun. This fun energized me to keep on going.

Drink and eat some Perpetuem. With heat like this I try to down a bit more than one bottle per hour and a flask of concentrated Perpetuem every two hours. I estimated this race to be four hours so I would need to stop and refill my bottles at an aid station. Had a third bottle in my jersey pocket of just water. I'd drink some of that too.

Rolled into the first aid station (mile 12?) as 'The Body' was leaving (I think). Refilled my bottles with Heed and water and was off. Back into the singletrack in search of 'The Body'. I caught up to him on the singletrack climb. It was very hot and there was little air circulation (ie: no wind). We slogged on and at some point 'The Body' let me take the lead. We'd falter here and there but kept pushing onward. Partway up the climb we caught Greg. He was moving extremely slow. He mumbled something about the heat affecting him and his legs just not having anything in them. I think seeing us gave Greg some energy for he kept on with us. Now the three of us are riding together, kind of.

We crest the top and start along the ridge. Greg pulled away from me a tad while I slowly pulled away from 'The Body'. I'd catch back up to Greg and we'd ride some and switch back and forth a bit. Lots of out-of-the-saddle riding to maintain momentum and get through all these rocks. Still pulling away from 'The Body'. At some point Greg lost a tool or something from his toolkit but quickly was back on the bike within sight and sound of me.

"Keep pedaling. Ride consistent. Don't do anything stupid. Don't worry about 1st 2nd or 3rd"

I kept running that through my head. I remember a short 20-30ft incline that I muscled up. Upon cresting the top of that I realized I probably shouldn't have ridden it for my legs hurt a lot. [Greg later told me he couldn't believe I rode that.] There was another incline of this type not that far down the trail and I opted to walk that one. Once I got to the top I turned around for the first time in a while. I was all alone.

"Where did Greg go? I thought he was on my wheel?"

Guess I pulled away from him. Grabbed some Heed from my bottle and back on the bike pedaling down the trail. I typically don't really hold a 1st place position in a race. Especially in a 4ish hour race and multi-day race. This was new territory for me. I kept thinking back to my previous thoughts and forced myself to just ride my bike and not worry about who was who in the race (except making sure I was ahead of 'The Body'). If I am meant to take the stage win then it will happen. I kept on riding and focused on staying consistent and eating drinking to ward off any cramps due to the severe heat and humidity. So far I haven't had any cramps and my legs felt good. No signs of fatigue just yet..

I rolled into aid station two and refilled both my bottles. I left the bottle in my jersey pocket empty as I felt pretty good and didn't feel like I needed three bottles to get to the finish.

Back onto some singletrack and eventually out onto a road. Still no signs of anyone behind me and no signs of anyone ahead of me. I'm in 'no man's land'. I typically have a hard time maintaining a consistent pace riding solo on paved or gravel roads but I did my best to keep the cadence up and keep moving. I'd occasionally look over my shoulder and still didn't see anyone.

"Am I riding that much faster than everyone? This is weird. Something is wrong."

Pedal, Pedal, Pedal. As the road dipped downward I'd pick a tree and pedal as hard as I could to get to it (often resulting in super high cadences). Then aero tuck and coast. Back again pedaling like a madman. Aero tuck and coast. This kept on going and I eventually got to the tunnel underneath Rt322. Seeing Rt322 made me happy. Especially since I was out of Heed and water.

"I'm almost to the finish. Sweet!"

On the other side of the tunnel were some people and they were handing out cans of PBR. At the last second I decided to grab a can and start my way up the last climb.

About 100ft into the climb and half the PBR in me my legs started cramping. NO. Not now. I'm so close. I backed off intensity and did my best damage control to keep moving. Unfortunately the damage control consisted of not finishing the PBR.

wish it was me but I can't tell who it is..

Now I am around the first yellow gate. More pedaling. I tried standing up but that hurt more so I stayed seated and ground it out. Around the second yellow gate and over a rock. Wow. That could have spelled disaster [cramp] if I give too much effort but somehow it worked fine.

Last leg of the climb and the damage control was working. I was now pedaling at a consistent pace. A glance over the shoulder and saw two people but couldn't make out who it was.

"Pedal faster despite it potentially hurting you in the long run. You are so close to winning a stage and can see the top of the climb. Just make it to the top and you have a large enough lead to coast into camp and take the win."

Made it to the top and immediately got into an aero tuck. High speed left turn onto the access road to the scout camp. Narrowly missed two cars. More aero tuck and stretched those hamstrings while I was at it. Rolled into camp and my legs felt much better so I spun my ass off around the lake and across the finish line.

Victory! Stage win!

4hours 0minutes 46sec

I can't believe I pulled that one off. And was 12minutes faster than Selene Yager, the fastest woman for the day. I am typically hanging with the top women riders or slightly behind them.

Greg rolled across the finish line a little over two minutes behind me to take 2nd. 'The Body' almost three minutes behind me for 3rd.

Peter finishing stage 2 after finding his 'dark place' and coming out of it.

'The Body' wasn't happy to be in 3rd place.

Aghh. This is a much better podium pic.

Later that evening Tim, from CyclingDirt interviewed a few of us.