travel day:  early start from Cheryl's, 7:30 depart from BWI.  Thru the magical tubes of airports and jetplanes, arrive RNO 1ish.  Stubbie chauffers us from the airport, we crush all you can eat sushi and bump into Erica, Mark & Harlen at Trader Joe's, neat.  Swing into the Patagucci outlet, missed the big Labor Day sale, sizes for me are either xs or xl.  Keep picking thru and cute salesgirl says, "Have you looked at the women's..."  uhhh, no, what's the difference?  

"Nothing, other than being cut with a smidge more hip room." Score!  Turns out I'm a size 16, new pair of SuperGuide pants, $29.95.  Up the hill to Truckee, retrieve Cheryl's signature requiring bike from the BackCountry and take full advantage of the Mighty Mobile service center. 

travel day 2:  hourish shakedown ride on the outskirts of Truckee.  Hit some xc trails, soil is interesting, definitely dry.  Jabber feels solid, couple efforts to see how thin the air really is.  mental note: stay out of the red tomorrow.  set the tach at about 5-10beats off normal, ride the last climb at the same tempo as the first is the goal.  Truck loaded, chill out then hit the road after a quick stop for new pedals, and donuts.  The shortcut across Yankee Jim's was pretty cool, with a bit of sketch mixed in.  First hint of incredible vistas, really sweet bridge way back up in there, crossing the North Fork of the American I think.  Then more mtn/canyon road with wandering cows, WV flashbacks for sure.  Venue is sweet, way the fuck out there.  Pre race ritual of flasks and mixing bottles for the drop.  Unknown scene out here, so I'm going with pretty much a self supported approach, figuring to only count on the aides for water and to swap my bottles.  100oz on the back, two bottles of mix and enough calories in the Ergon to get me 10hrs.  Then finally relax around the campfire and take in the mind numbing array of stars.

race day:  5am, damn, already.  shuffle around camp, not doing this out of the back of the CR-V has my routine off.  no biggy, just different.  To relax my head, been saying that 10 is the goal, just go out and ride a 10mph pace, no racing, just a fastish all day ride.  Pre-race mingling, then slot in in 2nd/3rd row, GO!  And the start is....neutral?  Really?  sweeeeeeeet.  EZ rolling tempo, relaxed conversations, Cheryl up there 2nd-third row, sser's spinning along, then we hit the gravel.  Pace starts to wind up and I'm immediately drifting back, not gonna work my legs like that, tooo early.  Hit some washboard and hit a harmonic freq that sends one of my bottles flying, 10 minutes in and I've dropped a bottle, awesome.  See Dicky up ahead, so not drifting back too bad, he's a familiar face to key off of for a bit.  There goes Rich O'Neil, not holding his wheel today though, he's movin' on out.  Finally, we make the left for the first climb.  Feels like I'm about 100ish deep now, time to get to work.  Settle in on a 167-172 tempo, and start munching carrots.  Snap some pics along the way, hook up with Stubbie after he stops to shed a layer, then reel in Cheryl for a bit, eventually the elastic stretches and they're both out of sight towards the top of the climb.  

Hourish elapsed and I get my first real experience with moondust.  The climb was dusty for sure, but nothing like the downhills.  I'm futzing with the iPod and giving up spots after cresting the ridge.  Finally get it cued up and the White Stripes are providing a nice soundtrack.  Fast fireroad descending is definitely not my strong suit, and mix in the blinding, choking, babyhead hiding moondust and I'm certainly not making anytime on these sections.  Drop in behind a group of four, and immediately pull off the trail after sucking down a lungful of dust, not quite puking.  Finally settle into a nice rythmn, finding that gap and timing moves to get around where terrain dictates less cloud producing speeds.  

2ish elapsed and we pop out onto a sweet knob.  I've hike a couple short sections to this point, legs aren't quite feeling the love.   Pre-race beta informed me that the steeper climbing is stacked to this part of the route, so I'm hoping my conservative approach pays off later.  All. Day. Long.  Snap some pics, review the safety manual, hang with Pedro for a bit, then back on it.  Hit cp21 very shortly thereafter and roll right past it.  Pass back about 15 of those that went by during breaktime.  Couple smaller hits then we're rolling downhill again.  Some fun water bars and tighter riding dual track is a nice payoff for the recent climbing.  Pass Tinker, he doesn't need anything, always nice to ask.  Slam down some calories and flip on more tunes, some live Jane's to get me up the hill.  Make the right hand turn for the second ascent and settle back into that mid-hi 160's tempo.

Carrot patch is thin this time around, some geared riders to pick off, one speeders are rare.  Finally hook up with a Cyclepath rider towards the top and keep it rolling thru the summit turn at cp35.  Roll down the pithc then situp, unsure if my blurry interpretation of the arrows was correct.....here comes Cyclepath Matt, whew....  Some nasty rollers across here, hey there's Dicky!  His bike is upside down; wassup?  "Rotor bolts, I'm good..."  These little hits across the ride are getting to me, the loss of the bottle isn't helping.  I did scavange a bottle that somebody else ejected, but not willing to test the contents.  I'm not desperate yet, but that next cp better show itself soon.  Stop to take in the view and some pics and catch my breath, Dicky has gone by, on a mission.  I'm not racing yet, still working the fast tourist approach.  Local Aaron is in need of fire, the shared company into cp41 is welcome relief and we finally make it to Robinson Flat.  

Flirting outside the four hour mark, saw Dicky mounting his steed as I rolled in, so his gap is whatever time I waste here.  There's a small leaderboard posted showing the top 30ish.  Can't comprehend it when I first get off the bike, so I go about topping off the fluids.  Fill the bladder, swap the bottles from my drop bag then take a look at the spread.  They have ice cold Coke, which easily washes down the 4 endurolytes handed up by the cute blond.  Wander over to the board, look at the watch, not quite 20 past the hour....scan the names, Stubbie is doing well, Fuzzy/DeeJay/Yuri hammering up there too, probably out of reach, but maybe not.  Oooo, there's Cheryl, just went thru about 15 minutes ago....  Roll out with Aaron and I'm quickly off the bike hoofing it, stood around the aide too long, need to get loose again.  Top of the pitch and I assist Aaron with his lack of fire.  Rolling again after the SAR Sheriffs clear the area and it's decision time, run the numbers. 

I'm on schedule for a 10ish hour ride, a 9hour effort might bet me into the running as a lingering contender.  I'm sure this field is deep, but it seems like a sub 9 timeat any of these gets you into the single digits on the finish sheet.  So, with a looooong descent ahead I settle in.  I need to cover some ground and start doing it now.  Try to keep a 20ish pace on the down, not insane monkey on crack pedaling, but instead wind it up and work the tuck, and hit every roller with mo and flow.  Catch a few here and there, then link up with two geared riders.  Back n forth for a bit and these guys need to go.  At 18mph thru the sweepers, the one dude is sketchy foot out holding on while I'm sitting in pedaling thru.  He's on his limit, I'm still in my comfort zone, these guys really need to go.  Finally a bit of an up tick in the pitch, punch it around them, and then again, and I'm once more alone.  Some Elephunk from the BEP sets the tone and the numbers are still looking good.  

Hour 6, still hitting the calories, still ticking over the pedals, legs still responding with decent sensations.  Album is over, soundtrack is rubber on dirt crunch, watching the clock, keeping an eye out for decent scenery.  Lots of vert to chew up, keep the TT mindset of the quiet place intact.  Finally roll into cp69, still good on fluids, I slow ask for beta and get the answer to a different question....keep rolling.  Track down a geared rider on the pavement, then leave him when we turn right onto the dirt.  More quiet time, then some tough riding on some abused ridgelineish jeeptrack.  Not trail, but plenty challenging, theme for the day.  Feels like I'm topping out and sure enough, looking way north I see familiar landscape way off in the distance.  Feels good to have confirmation that we're headed home.  Hit cp79 at the crossroads with around 7:30 elapsed, made up a shit ton of time since cp41 and spirits are high.  Emptied the bladder about 30 minutes ago, but still have a full bottle of mix, so I swap the empty for clean water and get out quick.  

Reassume the mindset and still have a sub 9 in my sites.  20miles of 'fireroad', with 5ish of it a fast descent, still seems doable in 1.5 hours. Settle in, comfort still found in the high 160's, turn a corner and BAM!  That's a sser up ahead, booyaa, I am pulling back into this.  3hrs of chasing is beginning to pay off.  ooo, ohhhh, that looks steep.  That's Matt from Oregon ahead of me, and looks like another onespeeder on the next pitch above him.  Matt's hoofing it, his steps look labored, go time.  Pass him on foot, setting down the "No friends on a powder day" hiking tempo.  Then close the gap to the Cyclepath dude.  

Now we're racing baby.  8ish hours and I'm trying to keep on pace for the 9.  Still enough spunk to hit these rollers with authority, the three of us stretching the elastic, give and take, give and take all the way to the earlier course split.  I keep our little group on track and get back on the front.  Change of plans and blast thru cp85, make one final dig to cp90.  Telling the legs, 20 more minutes, just give me another 20, 3ish more rollers and it's downhill spin from there.  Put these guys away now, get out of sight before cp90 and hold it down the descent.  Hit the first pitches out of cp85, don't look back, focus on what's ahead, the race is in front of you, always look forward.  Keep moving forward, legs still responding, keep you head down, work over those pedals, keep working, keep working....ok, now look back.  No one, whew, out of sight, but probably just barely.  Quick recover and then try to rock it steady, next roller....ouch, that hurt.  Check the rearview, shit, there's the Cyclepath dude.  Try to rev the motor and the lights come on, last call folks.  Elastic rebounds and he slingshots right on by, shit shit shit.  Roll the downside, hit the next one and start to go deep, look up ahead and spot Cheryl....holy shit!  Finally tracked her down, she's been hammering.  Think to give a shout, but save that breath.  This pitch is starting to hurt, really.  And I'm off the bike, hoofing it.  Man, when the tank goes dry, it really goes dry.  Top of the pitch and Matt is back and we're at cp90.  I'm shelled and totally slum that final pitch to the descent, give Matt the honors, I'm done, gave it what I could and Matt and the other fella had an answer, good times. 

Final descent sucked.  Didn't seem nearly as abusive on the two trips up.  But coming down, it crushed me, my feet have never hurt that much.  Even thought the course was all 'fireroad', it wasn't lacking in challenge.  Lots of techy focus to pick your line  most of the day, was definitely not a lazy day of pave' cruising.  Hit the bottom rollout, then finally the tarmac to the finish.  Roled it home in 9:18, 10th ss after a good battle for 8th up until cp90.  Never did catch Cheryl, she had a great day took home the big fat winner's check, well earned after an incredible season.  Homeboy Stubbie finished in 12th, damn fine showing sir.  

Apres' race scene was damn fine fun.  Once the puking sensations were relieved and a nice dip in the lake, plenty of good bbq, then did my best to aid in the emptying of the kegs.  Good 'season ender', relaxed atmosphere, good music, spectating the band from up high on the beach.  Drunken buzzed weaving starlit spin back to camp was mind numbing.  Soooooo dark, soooooo many stars, an incredible venue.  "Heyyy Bear!"  Back into camp to wind it down before crashing out next to the fire, perfect end to an incredible day.


Michael Vanderberg said...

Good to meet you out there man. I was dragging ass on that steep section before cp 85. We made it a good race there for awhile, though! Cheers, and keep the rubber side down. - Mike (from Oregon).

Tomi said...

ha, yeah, sorry 'bout that Mike.....had the name Matt stuck in my head.

Michael Vanderberg said...

No worries - ha, I do it all the time! 50 miles at Michaux....damn. Way to get it done. Have fun out there with the new toys...