nice rollout up along Penns Creek. Spin it to the front and chill with likeminded WV SS contingent.

Then two geared douches attack up the left and close the gap to.....the lead moto. You guys are so AWESOME! Left across the bridge and it is on. Swarmed by the masses, then try to settle into a long day of carrot munching. Way up ahead is a long line of riders, mostly two by two strung out, start picking 'em off. Look for known one speeders, try to stay in the mix. Hook up with Topher and Billy, can see Benji and Matt up towards the front of the group we're trying to latch onto. Spend the next hour and a half dangling in no man's land. Spend some time in a group of 5ish with Cheryl trying to close the gap. Painfully slow process, reel 'em in a bit, then the road tilts down, real 'em in a bit more, road tilts down. 400yds, 300yds, 200 yds, 100yds...all the geared folk I'm working with make the connection, I'm still off the back of what's probably the second main group on the road.

Hook up with Billy some more out near Coyler Lake reroute. "Spinning my nuts off!" he says, yeah, hear dat. Follow his wheel down Longerberger and ride the bridges and rock garden nice and clean. he big group that was up the road has disintegrated, decision to not blow up while mindlessly chasing looks like a wise one. Settle into a hard tempo up Laurel Run, catch back to the leading ladies and chomp down a big handful of carrots, munch munch munch. Little Shingletown, try not to touch the brakes at all, work the ss mo and flow, passed by some big rings, there goes Cheryl again. Onto the rolling road into CP2, pull off for a qwik piss, bike and head adjustment at just over 2 hours. Michelle rolls by tucked into a nice train, hook up with J. Martin and Buchness for a bit. Bottle swap and Camelbak splash n go out of CP2.

Relax on the bike, get the mind ready for the 1-2 combo of Greenlee & Seeger. Hit the tempo hard out of the gnomey pine forest and solo again picking off the long strung out line up Greenlee. Catch Cheryl again about 5minutes from the top, she's sort of slummin', I try to help, fun downhill coming. Punch it across the top to get clear trail, then rippin' smooth run down Croyle, catching one dude, dropping a bunch of others. Legs begin to feel funny, kinda tight. Here come the cramps, again. Recover a bit rolling towards Seeger, find a solid tempo, keep picking off riders looking for familiar faces. Base of Spencer Trail and I'm with Billy again, he gets off to hoof it a bit, I pedal up to him then dismount. Says he saw Topher just up ahead. Finally, pulling back into this thing. Tempo, tempo, tempo across Spencer into CP3. Holy shite, there's Deejay, there's Topher. Get by Deejay before the CP, there's Michelle too. Didn't plan to stop at 3, but get the bottles topped off for insurance. Roll out of there right behiond Topher and Kyle. Topher dismounts to hoof it, seems kinda early in the climb for that, decide to put in some effort, get around Topher and keep Kyle in sight. On the bike, off the bike, on the bike, off the bike. Walking that fine line of cramping vs not cramping, on the bike, off the bike.

Steady. Gunning. Kyle towing me across Sassafras until the brake scorching steepness, then I'm dropped and Topher's bringing me back I'm sure. Into the fun flowiness below Sass, Kyle is gone, can feel a presence building behind me. I'm not riding well, bumbling, fumbling, looking for the exit so I can recover for a bit. Mind jumbled, trying to remember what the climb back up to Beautiful/No Name is like. Out of the woods onto Coopers Gap and there's Huber popping some pills and Topher is back onto my wheel. Ride past Jamie and immediately cramp up. Hide the pain and soft pedal until I can settle in. Find that rythmn and hit the trailhead w/ Topher and Huber in tow. Bomb down the sweeeeeeeeet descent with Topher tight on my wheel, forcing me to ride it well. Big eyed wonderment whole way down to those rickety bridges, hooting and hollering good time. Are we done yet?

Recovery spin on the road, Jamie rolls up w/ his big ring and I do my best to not cramp up and not get dropped rolling into CP4. CP4, drop bag bottle swap and Camelbak refill. Hear across the radio that Schalk just hit CP5. So he's only about 1.5hours ahead, can I catch him? Refueled for the final push, roll out solo to the Stillhouse Hollow of pain. 2 minutes into the climb and I cramp, right leg all but locks up solid. Immediately begin hoofing it w/ Kyle back in sight and Topher pedals by with that lumbering ss cadence. I keep walking. Topher gets about a 30-45second gap. Keep walking, now get on. Settle in again, find that Tour tempo, use it. Begin pulling back Topher, get around and keep going. Reel in Kyle. Then James Kelly. And a few other unkowns. Don't look back until the top, afraid to find out that the effort didn't open any gaps. Finally a look over the shoulder and it's quiet back there. Now it's really time to go. Two hours max to the finish, you can do this, steady gunnin' and hold 'em all off, hopefully real in some more.

By choice, I've not been getting updates on placing, gauging position by feel and the company I'm with instead. And always keeping an eye on the clock. Judging by aid volunteer reactions, we must be up there in the standings. I'm guessing top 40ish, telling myself maybe, mayyyybe top ten ss. Counting those I haven't seen for a long time; Fuzzy, Benji, Wes, Gunnar, Matt...puts me at best, 6th. With these races becoming more stacked, I'm assuming there's also at least 2 or 3 unkown faces up ahead, so I'll be lucky to slot in at tenth. Just keep pedaling. Make it to Sand Mtn, neck is getting sore from the constant over the shoulder glances. Timmy D is chillin' in the lot and tells me Matt just passed thru. No shit! Now we're really getting somewhere. And yep, sure enough there's Matt. But Matt doesn't look 100%. He's stopped, just standing there, with a goo pack hanging out of his mouth. So, he's either done, or regrouping for a final assault. Damn, this is gonna be tense from here on out. Across Sand Mtn, pass some dude with gears, then it's awfully quiet both fwd and back. Looking way up the road, nothing. Get to that spot I was looking at, turn around.....nothing.

Little Poe, do. not. flat. Do not get lazy, stay focused, this isn't finished yet, no where near it. Focus and do. not. flat. Whew, safely down that abusive washed out dual track and swing the right onto the road to Poe Paddy. Cramps! shocking. Roll into CP5, blurt out Coke or Red bUll!?!?! Pleeeeeeeease have one or the other. Slam three small cups of Coke and gone. Told I'm 5ish ss, cool, still no one in sight. Bit of traffic on the first bridge, and that looong first tunnel is always so damn cool. Rail Trail, spinspinspinspin, 14mph tt hell. No on in site, still no signs behind. Off the rail trail and ramp up to the final climb. Cramps! Let out a holler and push on thru, tempo hammering, just give me ten more minutes, ten more minutes and I'm done climbing. Do not get caught now, brakeless screaming down the backside, please don't ball it up. Fisherman's Path, endo. ouch. dumbass. just walk it at a brisk pace. try to ride, falter again. just walk it. Always looking back, nervous. Back onto the rail trail. Look way up ahead, nothing. 2minutes later, look back the same stretch. FUCK! is that a white number plate wayyyyyy back there? ramp it from 14 to 14.8, spin spin spin, try to hide, work the line of sight. Convinced that I'm being chased by a ss, spin spin spin. Tunraround, nothing. Another looooong viewable stretch, nothing up ahead, 1:30 later, fuck! There's that white splotch way back there. 15.2 spinspinspin. Final tunnel, check the shoulder, holy shit, he's closing fast, now way that's a single. Into, out of the tunnel, turn around and damnit, here comes Huber. Let's make that bastard earn it. Onto the tarmac, 16.2 spin spin spin. 17.4, spinspinspin. 18.2, spin and tuck the little down. 17.8.

"Hey Tom. Been chasing you for a while." Damn you Huber! We let out a hoot and holler with the park in site. I sit up, Huber rolls it home with a small gap. Punch the clock, 8:20 elapsed. 6th singlespeed, which I'm reallllllly happy with. Huge weight off the shoulders. The fear. The fear that I wouldn't be any faster on the coasty vs the fix. Fear that I couldn't hang, couldn't be competitive. That I've been hiding behind the fix in order to not face those questions. And now I know. And now it's time to do something with that knowledge, only a couple more chances left this year......


Anonymous said...

Your write ups rule.

huber said...

well told and so much fun!

doug said...

That was an awesome read! Great job out there!

If I don't see you in Napa CA then it'll be Michaux. Might swing by Shenandoah to volunteer. We'll see.