long time coming.

Chill Saturday eve around the campfire, catching up and shooting the shit and scaring the out of towners with talk of the freshy freshy race loop. Typical race day start, up with the sun, coffee & oatmeal, more bs'ing with other circus travelers. Roll out to remote start line, watch the pro dawgs head off, wait three minutes, GO! okay. SS'ers and vets launch from the line, qwik shuffle and it's two big rings pulling a line of Vets on the left and one speeders on the right. Fast rolling firm gravel, wind it up to 20ish, slot into 5th wheel and quickly notice the lack of warmup and slighty smaller gear I'm spinning, 32:20. I lazily let a gap open up. Call myself a pussy in my head, are you racing? or just riding? Turbo spin to close the gap. Gap closes just as the pace lightens that little bit, overshoot the gap, this is cool, just ease off, drift back in, don't grab a handful of brake. Unfortunately, my easing off didn't sync when I was in that dreaded picture perfect half wheel position. Mistimed the side drift w/ the back drift in order to slot back in and found my mo wanting to be on the other side of his bike a bit sooner than anticipated.


This is gonna hurt, I need to get off of this thing, fuck fuck fuck you fucking dumbass...unclip? peg leg it? no. that never works, look for the bright spot and try to land there, either ride it out that bit longer or literally jump off....now! ouchmotherfuckingcocksucking OUCH! motherfucker, dumbass. Slide to a stop and check my six, oh shit that tire's really close to my head, thank God for disc brakes. Not sure if anybody else went down, sorry if so, didn't see any other bodies lying about when I got up off the ground. No shot the head, no shoulder/collarbone issues...wonder how deep the gashes in the arm will be, how hamburgered is the knee? Somebody stops to help me sort it out, Bobby'sBoy I think? thanks man, I was a bit dazed... Untwist the bars and sit down for a minute, don't let him wait around, "go go go, I'll be alright, thanks, go, I'll be fine..." Straighten the bars, limp onto the bike and fuck me running. Knee is bound up tight and stiff from impact, left hand absorbed the hit and is awfully tender holding onto the bar. Just soft pedal, get back to the car, hide your shame.

So that was the first 200yds. Pull to the side and watch as the masters and ladies roll by, answer their heckling and rolled to the car. The start crew comes back in, "what happened, what happened?" "I was that guy..." Park my bike, unclip the helmet, take off my gloves, walk it off a bit more. Brush off the dirt, get a look at the rash and gash, sit down in the ambulance for a bit. "How do you want this done, qwik to get back out?"

nahhh, I'm done, take your time, it's beer and picture time, again.....that didn't exactly roll off the tongue, hmmm.

Scrubby scrub, nothing too bad, one knick there that could take a butterfly, if it wasn't surrounded by rash. But nothing tooo gnarly. Dresses it lightly, just gonna be chillin'. Got that done, stroll around a bit more...and god damnit, I didn't come here to quit. The internal debate begins, opinions asked, work it out. Rich, Travis, Larry, Jes....eh, fuck it, may as well go back out, at least rip some choice singletrack, then can always bail at the lot again and help with the finish. Helmet clipped, gloves back on, spin it out easy and drop into that first descent. Check the clock, 9:35ish...we rolled at 9:15, keep that in mind.

Off the road and into that first hit of trail......Holleee sheeet! damn is this fun, sooo fast, so flow. Bippity bop bap from rock to rock to grooved loamyness hip bap bip, boing boing boing. Suddenly so happy to be rollin' solo, and ripping. This trail is fkna sweet when you're not bar to bar, wheel to wheel frenzied, oh hellz yeah! The gauze wrap loosens pretty directly and turns into a biohazard streamer for a bit. Hit a spot to sit and spin and take inventory. Damn, that was fun, sure am feelin' frisky, and I've got nothing to lose here. Let's see, I've never mounted a comeback like this before...does this thing go to 12?

Only one way to find out. Hit the next trail section just as hard, rippin it again, attacking the punchy climbs and today the techy skillz are d.i.a.l.e.d. finally. Stop to strip off the remaining gauze, plug in the tunes and cue The Hives. Do the math one more time, 9:35-9:15 is 20, minus maybe five for the rollout...okay, they've all got a 15-20 minute headstart, but I'm a local. And this loop is as local as local gets. Mackey alone should net me 10minutes, Virginia, another couple, 3 Stooges and hammering up every fucking climb out here, and I might just pull back into this thing.

Hit it like a time trial, steady gunning unrelenting tempo. Hammer out the small bits, short sightedness is a blessing today, the only hurdle is what's in front of you, whatever's beyond that is beyond that, deal when you get there. Righ now, right here, you need to move forward as quickly and efficiently as possible. And god damnit you're a fucking dumbass for balling it up like that. fucking rookie move, especially considering the current feedback from the legs. Chump. Give those fuckers a 15minute headstart on the day that the legs reawaken, mother fucker, ain't that the shit.

Get pissed, really pissed and direct all that energy, all of the mediocre races, missed opportunities and the anger about being 'that guy' today and just pedal this damn bike into submission. Who cares about hour 2, hour 3, hour 4, hour 5? Right here, right now, you're gonna hammer up this little wall, breath deep and hit it again and again and again. cuz this is your house, this is your backyard, and god damnit you're fucking due and you sure as hell ain't going down without a fight. not today.

And that's what it was for the next 4 or so hours. Cranked it up and put on a tech riding clinic for anybody that was there to witness, 'twas on it. Opening loop was railing super fun good times, blew past the first cp, and settled into phase 2, the first cramps hit before the second aide, couple of quirky dismounts on RockyRidge fired the right quad, sip of beer while the bottles were filled might help with that. Started catching folks, sorry that I wasn't in the mood to chat, that beer did look tasty though Brett...but I was chasing. I was pissed and I was chasing.

Pop out the end of Mackey and the legs all but lock up. Been here before, plenty, push thru, do not stop moving or you will lock up. No matter the pain, 1 pedal, 2 pedal, 3 pedal, 4 pedal....it will relent, the cramps will pass, they always do, and then it's a 45minute window until the next round, driiiiiiink. Through that first big wave and back into the woods, the cramp monster can't hang in the woods, he only catches up on those spinny open bits. Rip. more. trail. cramp. drink, eat. rip. more. trail. cramp. drink, eat. And then the arms started locking up, ha. Eventually lost that bit of snap to clear some short pitches on the pedal, and my right arm begins cramping during the pushing, wtf? arm cramps? this is pretty burly terrain, guess we are going deep today, shake it off. Jedi mindtricks down Suckerpunch with the ghost of Travis on my wheel, faster, faster, faster....

hit the final check point, there's Lee:
"TOMI!!! you're 2nd singlespeed, want a cupcake?"
2nd? really? cool, how far up is Theo? no thanks, just water.

5? hmm, I can get that on Stooges. thanks, bye.

Back into the quiet. Me, my breath, pedals moving round. Catch Bikeman Josh, slummin'. 5minutes later....uh oh, I underestimated Stooges, been a while since I've ridden it and I just cracked, my brain on drugs, sizzzllle. Stomach starts grumbling, not a good sign, must be hungry. The nice thing about this stage of the game though, is when you do crack, when the engine light comes on, at least cramping isn't an issue anymore. Can't cramp up if you can't really push the pedals that hard, the greatest risk becomes the mount/dismount maneuver, better watch your step. Keep on keepin' on, angry attitude subsides, at least I worked back into second. Gave her hell, but I'm in a hole now and time is running out, gotta maintain. Out of Stooges and up Stick, no sign of Theo. Then out along the false flat climbing carriage path, eye up the 2 minute long sightlines with no riders in front or back....yep, 2nd is fine and dandy all things considered.

Onto the pavement, hit the quick right up the finishing climb, hike, pedal, look over the shoulder, hike pedal shoulder and finally sounds of the venue reach my ear. Cruise thru the woods, into the finish....

"You're first singlespeeder!"

huh, where's Theo?
5 minute gap at aide three,
he's gotta be here. whut?

scan the board...sr, sr, sr, sr, vet, sr, vet, sr, s...no ss.

well fuck, what happened to Theo? hope he didn't get lost, that would suck, but how? where? nahhh.

few minutes later, Theo rolls in for second..."I missed that last turn..."

awww man, not the way I wanted to end up on the big box, but I guess that's racing....


Nevada said...

Great comeback and account of your ride Tomi!

camps said...

Well, it's the same way many people end up *off* the box.

You could call that your local advantage.

The Wiser Weiser said...

Great read....you sounded like a train huffing through the woods!! ;)

Todd said...

Incredible comeback and post. Nicely done.

huber said...

yeah brotha!