I had a blast at the first 6 hour race that I did. I could not attend the second of the season because of some other obligations. It seemed like everyone was backing out of going to this race and I really didn’t feel like making the trip all by myself. So, thinking that I was not going to race I was easily talked in to a long ride the weekend before. We rode down to Tell City to ride the Schweitzer fest ride and then ride home. It was a 125 mile ride with over 7000′ of elevation gain. It sounded horrible so of course I was easily talked in to it. Shortly after the ride started I was informed that E2 was probably going to attend the 6 hour race. Crap, here I am out doing a really silly race the weekend before a 6 hour race. Oh well I guess we will see how it all goes.
So, going along with making a lot of “bad” decisions, while I was still at work and only a couple hours from leaving town, there was some silly talk about me racing the SS class and my mind started to think it was a good idea. This made me rush home and see if my SS was even rolling good enough. I think I had only been on it one or two other times this year. I have been really missing it, but it was just not getting any love. After thinking that I didn’t make the second race so the overall was not really in play, why not try the SS. I am getting a lot of peer pressure to race the SS class for the Fools Gold race and what better way to either talk me in to it or convince me it really is as bad of an idea as it probably is.
We loaded up and headed east. With the race being Saturday we really could not get there early enough to do any pre-riding. This is not all bad, but it would have been nice to see a little of the trail. But, I had 6 hours to try and figure it out. While getting my stuff ready I figured out that somehow none of the water bottles I brought would fit in the seat tube bottle cage. Humm… I know just the other week I had a bottle in there. I guess it was not any of the ones I brought. Oh well, the lap was not that big so I should be able to stop and change bottles as often as I needed. Normally if I was really worried about “racing” I would not want to stop as often, but I would have to make due.
We started off down the road a little bit for a neutral roll out. The SS does not do so well on flat roads but I did what I could to not fall back too far and also not kill myself. There is plenty of time for that later. I am not exactly sure where I was when we went in to the woods, but there was a long line of riders in front of me. There were a couple sections were some had issues and it would hold everyone up, but I just stayed relaxed and moving forward when it worked. I was rolling behind two Dan’s comp riders Frank and Bob for part of the first lap until Bob had a little mishap on a section. I followed Frank around for the rest of the first lap. Since I have not been riding this bike much I guess I error on the safe side on how much air to put in the tires. The wheels were bouncing off of everything so as I came around the first lap I stopped to let some air out of both tires. Frank was gone.
Stopping was kind of nice. This became my standard for every lap. It let me swap bottles out when I needed, grab or eat food, take some swigs of Coke or anything else that I needed to help keep me going. This was also a nice little break from riding with out stopping too long and having a lot of time go by. I’m just glad I never thought about opening a beer or my number of laps would have gone way down.
After the first lap the traffic was a lot more spread out. I would have people come up on me or I would catch them from here on out, but the passes were very friendly. I was having a great time out there. The trail was a lot of fun to ride and a lot of different views to keep me interested. The roots and rocks were more than the last time I had been there. The lack of riding a rigid fork was really adding up. I was also in a bigger gear than what I used to run. But, I was happy with how I was riding.
I rode everything for the first 5 laps before having to walk a hill or two in the 6th lap. Before I got there, I really thought riding 6 laps should be where I finished but was not sure I would have the legs. I was thinking 6 for most of the time I was out there. Then somewhere on the 6th lap I was looking at the time and thought that I would need to go out for another lap. When I came by the pits I was hoping to see some people sitting around and then I would not feel bad about not going out for another lap. But unfortunately no one was there. So, after another quick stop I headed out for lap number 7.
I was pretty wore out but some how it felt like I rode lap 7 better than I rode lap 6. Probably because I thought I was done after 6. I was still in survival mode, but riding much better than I thought I would be. The rigid fork was really adding up on my hands, arms and shoulders. It had been too long since I had really spent any time on the rigid fork and I was paying for it. I was really regretting not changing it over to a suspension fork after the last ride I did. I will not make that mistake again.
This lap was really odd. At times I felt like I was the only one out there. I kept moving the best that I could but kept looking over my shoulder for some reason. I really had no idea where I was in the standings, but didn’t want to get passed after being out there this long. I had passed a SSer on the 5th lap and hoped he was not hunting me down. I ended up walking the really steep hill again this lap. At the top I took a second to get a drink and eat another gel to try and finish strong. I guess I was staying hydrated enough since I was stopped I figured I might as well get rid of some pressure that I had since the first lap. LOL
I could tell I was all in when I could not remember where I was on the trail or how far I had to go. You would think by now I would know the lap a little better. Actually, I did know it better earlier in the day but now it was all burring together. When I hit the last section of switch backs I knew I was finally getting close to the end. The last climb up to the field where the cross country race was, hurt like hell and made my legs start to cramp but I was not going to walk it on my last lap. When I rolled around the corner toward the finish line I had to pull as hard as I could to get the weak wheelie in the picture above. Not my best work, but I felt I rode well enough that it deserved a wheelie. I’m glad that Kent was quick enough to catch it.
After a little bit of time I could get back to functioning and socializing. I didn’t really have the energy to go check out the live results to see how I did, but as some of the other people were talking about their results it was said that I was 4th. WHAT?!? really?? That made the day even better. As the awards started and the podiums were going it kind of hit me. I may be on the podium. They were announcing finishers deeper than the top 3. Sweet!! This would be my second podium for the year. That is like 2 more than I have had in, well……since some time in the 90’s before I took my break from riding.
So I ended up 4th over all in SS and 27th overall including the duo teams. 9th overall with just the solo riders. I am very happy with that. All my laps were with in the 40 minute mark other than the last one that took 53 minutes. The negative side of me had to come up with something so in the back of my head I was thinking I only finished that well because my class was smaller or something. After the finalized results came out it turns out that I would have been in 4th in open too!! So much for that thought. I guess I have nothing to be negative about. This race also helped get my arm twisted the rest of the way to sign up for the Fools Gold 60 in the SS class. I know I am far from being fast enough to compete against the top of the class, but there is just something about my SS that just gets me. It is a love/hate relationship that we have. I love it, but I swear it hates me. Somehow it tends to bring out the best in me more times than not. I guess I just like the abuse. Yea, I’m not very bright and I have mental issues….