Gong! 0530 on 1 August 2009 the Gong went off! It was time to leave the warmth of the tent, eat, hit the porta potty, chamois up, and get ready for 101 miles of Dirt.
Next to me at the Start fellow Team Bikeman Racers, Brad S, Josh W. and John B.
A few rows Behind me was Former Team Bikeman dot com Racer and creator of XXC mag Jason M.
The Motos that would lead us out moved to the front of the group. As they fired up their bikes and reved the motors getting ready to lead us through town, Brad gave me the nod and the look…..It was on.
You see a few nights earlier, the message came down from Bikeman Headquarters from Big Al…”Pete, I need you to stay back and hang on Jason’s wheel. Don’t Give him the opportunity to bridge the Gap to the boys up front”.
Well, orders are orders, and mid-way through the first climb I saw Jason make his move. I was recovering from pushing a bit too hard but I knew I needed to protect my teammates in the front. I answered his attack and for the next 60 miles Jason did some pulling.
All Joking aside, I was happy to be riding with someone I knew. I let Jason do a lot of the pulling – in fact I Let him do all of the pulling. He was on a mission. Anytime I broke the wind on the flats at his pace, It was just plain uncomfortable.
Questions arose -
Where was this kid going?
Is he Crazy?
What PSI is he running in that Shock?
Did I leave my Iron on?
Look Mom No Hands!!!
I was pretty certain that at this pace, I would not have riding company for very long….that is until we hit the first descent. I was able to open up a bit of a gap as I bombed down the first single track section. I didn’t think it was anything special, but Jason made a comment when he caught me on the next climb about how fast I made my way down.
We made it to the first super funky single track section, the one loaded with amateur photographers – wet bridges, gnarly rocks, and another gap opened up. I hit the next climb I really paced myself on this one as I was glad not to be hanging on to Jason’s rear wheel while I tried to settle into a more normal heart rate zone. As I worked my way around the switch back, there was Jason just below closing the gap….no quicker then I could yell “let’s go Chamois boy” Jason was reeling me back in.
I figured if I am going to finish with Jason, I need to let him go on the climbs, and work my magic on the descents and perhaps at some point things would even out a bit.
I can’t remember how I ended up in front of Jason on the long Single track rocky climb, but there was a lot of walking next to my bike, and a lot of looking back, watching Jason walk next to his bike.
At some point, I decided to take a nature break and Jason , rolled on by. I shook it off got on the bike. Soon enough I caught back up and gravity started to take over.
This my friends, was the beginning of the coolest downhill section of the entire 101 miles. I had only ridden this section of trail once in 2007, but as I was descending, I remembered every detail, every rock, every turn. Riders ahead of my were pulling over to get out of the way, almost as if I were Mosses making my way through the Red Sea. It was beautiful.
Back to reality and onto pavement I made my way to the next aid station. Filled the bottles and hit the next climb…..always looking over my shoulder. I was going slow…pushing was involved, things weren’t look so hot. It was only a matter of time before Jason would show up again. I was feeling pretty worthless at this point.
I finally made it to the last climb, still looking over my shoulder. At this point 75 % of the riders I past on the hairy single track descent caught me, but there was no sign of Jason. Damn, after the first switch back I started to worry a bit. Surely he would of caught me by now. Maybe something bad happened?
Anyway, I got over the climb, descended and made my way through the last super technical single track section; I passed one of the Top Masters riders, who had more legs then me, but not quite the skill set. He caught up later on the flrat rail trail, he through down a wicked attack. I was able to hang on, thinking I would launch my own attack near the finish. We were much further out then I thought, so I started to wear down, but still hung on. We hit the final tunnel…. It was dark, so he played it conservative and dismounted, however I could see the line clearly and I plowed through opening up a big gap. He caught back up and started to hammer. At this point I let the dude take it.
Maybe there were some funky master’s points to be achieved for finishing 129th instead of 130th . I definitely had it in me to punch it at the line, but he pulled my ass for the last 4 miles I think pulling any shenanigans would have been a dirt bag move.
Jason Finally resurfaced at the finish, I was glad to see him, as I really thought something bad might have happened to him.
The night ended with Burgers, Beers, hanging out with some new people and talking smack. The race was tough enough for me to swear of endurance racing forever, but Im already looking at heading down to Shenandoah....so maybe ill see you there!
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