Meanwhile, Shane was so far ahead that I'd already given up on that dream. But who was behind me? Eric could be right there. And Scott might have been getting a second wind while I was wilting like so much kale in my fridge.
I was as undone during this race as I've ever been....EVER.
Completely out of gas.
Which is ironic (is it? Honestly, I never know anymore) considering that my drive down there was much the same.
In case you are wondering.... there are no gas stations on Hwy 134 between 220 and Troy. None.
"Ah... I'll pass something else pretty soon." I kept saying as I left Greensboro (late, of course) and started south.
I continued saying it until I was about 5 miles south of the Harley Megalopolis, at which point I said, "I think I've made a horrible mistake. Should I turn around? Should I... what.... where... must pee... should... pee....gas... me?
I continued on.... putting the car in cruise control, turning off the radio, staring at the gas gauge intently, willing it not to move, and generally running on fumes.
I rolled into Troy just as my car began to shudder.
Oh... my car! The only reason I made it. The ONLY reason... is because of that thing. I just recently got a Honda Fit. A blue one. (Despite what my son, girlfriend, her daughter, my ex-wife, employees, the actual bill of sale and pretty much everyone else tells me... it's not purple. It's blue... Blue I tell you! (At least the Juggalo working at the gas station recognized it's blueness. "You mean the blue car?" he asked, when my needtopee-addled brain couldn't figure out which pump I was at. So.... despite their take on science....and pretty much everything else... juggalos and me have a temporary truce.)
I'm not really Mr. New Car. In fact, at every car dealership I went to, I kept having to ask them if they had something a little less.... fancy. "Do you have any cars in which the dashboard doesn't look like something from the Enterprise? I just need a speedothingy and gas gauge. Oh... and power windows. Maybe."
The Focus, The Matrix, the Mazda 3.... I finally settled on the (blue) FIT.
40mpg... vs like... 15-18 in the Action Van?
Oh....Don't worry, kiddos....The Big Blue Action Van is still around (they were going to give me $500 trade in, so...) and will still serve as the race wagon...
But after Old man Reitzel and I almost melted it going to the Unofficial Ass-ault on Mount Mitchell, I thought it might be time to get something a little more fuel efficient and... well... non melty. (love you baby)
|Neil, Library Barry and the Action Wagon.|
Me: Nahhh... what? haha... Neil... haha....You're so funny, man. Crack the... haha. Ohhh me!
[enter Ashley "cat-up" Powell] "Aw man.... I wouldn't do that. You trying to crack your engine block or something?")
Here are a few photos. It was quite the time. Lots of beer... beautiful roads... Brutal riding. I took King of the Mountain, but only by tricking Mike Goff , who won it last year. (Soundly.) We feinted and attacked all the way up the hill, and I barely managed to reel in his final, well played attack right before the top. Then, once 20 feet ahead of him, I declared that we were officially done. (we weren't... ))
|Wait... This pillow did what?|
|Hey guys... plenty of blanket over here! Just sayin...|
|This is probably why I beat Goff.|
|Hell yeah... we're done....Halfway.... Whatever.|
|I was lucky to emerge from my slumber unscathed. By rights I should have ended up like Reitzel's mirror.|
|Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.|
Back to the "story."
The race started off alright. Feeling decent... not working too hard.... no cramps.... yet. I was eating and drinking (I thought).
As it turns out, however... I was not. 2 gels in three 11 mile laps wasn't going to cut it, apparently. As we finished lap 3 I felt a twinge in my leg. "Hey... uh, Rich? You have any mustard? You know... in case I cramp... later? Cuz I'm totally fine now. Totally."
He told me there were some packets in the bike tray of the rack on his car.
Little did I know that I'd just given him critical information and that he was going to exploit it. Also.. little did I know that he had mustard on his person, but was not going to part with it because he, himself, was beginning to cramp. We pulled in, Rich further ahead than he should have been. I grabbed the mustard and got moving.
When we hit the trail it was like someone switched me off. I went from "I feel pretty good!" to "me... not... like... Rich Dillen... sleep.... face.... cramp."
I was unhinged. Cursing and slobbering and makey cry faces. (But I wasn't crying.) You have to understand... it wasn't that I was getting beaten... (I mean, I'm pretty used to that)...it was the overall "Motherf*****, you should be fitter than this! You shouldn't be cramping! If you'd just drink water instead of f****** beer.... even just SOMETIMES! If you'd just RIDE more.. or f****** TRAIN! A LITTLE!... then you wouldn't be in this stupid sad state! You've got the SM100 coming up next week, dumbass! And you're coming unhinged at mile 35 of a 55 miler! How are you going to make 100?! YOU SUCK!!!! I HATE YOU!!!"
I slogged through the next two laps, occasionally passing some riders, and occasionally looking (terrified, lest I lose my podium spot) behind me for Eric or Scott.
And then... I was done, both legs seizing with cramps as I crossed the line. Yay for me.
After an immediate beer (yeah... I know.... water... but after this beer) I felt better and could think about the race.
It was honestly a great event on great trails. Well worth the drive. They were fast and fun. With some climbing, some technical aspects, rocks, roots... never super challenging. Just... fun.
I'll be back next year, without a doubt.
Morgan "the redneck swede" Olsson did awesome. 4th overall and 1st in the 40+. (a good 20 minutes ahead of me).
Shane was right behind Morgan and Rich was about 10 minutes ahead of me. Eric Haggerty would have doubtlessly passed me had he not crashed during lap 2. I consider my podium spot ill-gotten-goods.
Driving back I somehow managed to turn onto the exit ramp of 220 (as if I was going to enter the traffic stream against the grain.) I did a quick graceful U-ey and sped off before anyone could identify me or make "wtf are you doing dumbass?!" eye contact.
(Cool story, Watts.)