Sunday, May 29, 2011
Race #75: Whistling Dixie
I caught a ride with Matthew Stierwalt down to General Butler State Park in Corrolton, Kentucky. This park brings back fond memories of Bridget getting back into the sport that she loves, back in 2003 when it felt like we were just kids fresh out of college. She had raced there in the late 90s, when mountain biking was epic. Here is a BioWheels race report about Bike Butler back in the day. Matthew raced there as well back in the day, on a Bianci Forté with Look clipless pedals better served for the road and a suspension fork that would have made a better pogo stick.
I lined up and realized this was my first real race of the year. There wasn't much bumping shoulders on single track in the Death March. I was glad to shake some of the racing cobwebs off a week before Mohican. Butch, Marty, Matt and I went for a warm up lap, it was only 5 miles but there was a fair amount of mud and areas where conditions would deteriorate over the course of the race. It was funny, I found that the granny gear was the best choice for all the muddy climbing.
The race started fairly fast. I was about 5th or 6th into the trail with Marty and Matt just behind. I kept gunning it and was holding Rusty's wheel so I wouldn't create a gap. I was very happy to be within 2 bike lengths of Rusty and another guy from Backwoods Racing within the first quarter lap — those guys from Louisville are freakin' fast. What I didn't realize was that I was slowly going anaerobic — with all the oxygen going to my muscles and evacuating the ole bird brain. About that time I hit a sloppy, muddy downhill going really fast. Well I ate it really hard with my head hitting the ground and my handlebars twisted backward. It took me a few seconds to pull the bars off — leaving a huge scratch on my top tube! I jumped back on and wouldn't you know it — my chain had dropped too! Marty and Matt passed me as I was getting the chain back on. I caught up to them and we formed a Cincinnati chase group. Matt was setting a steady pace as I tried to catch my breath. I was still so full of adrenaline I wanted to ride 20 mph, but I knew unless I settled down I would crash again. So we hung together in a little paceline for about half a lap. At one point I passed Marty where my poor handling must have drove him crazy! We hit an open marshy section and I decided to raise the pace and try to hunt down any Louisville rider I could. I created a gap and I wanted to see if I could beat Marty for once in my life, I thought I would take advantage of an opportunity while I had it. But Marty wasn't feeling his best that day.
Still riding like a newbie. Slowing down. Fearing my comrads coming from behind. Marty's stem broke and he had to DNF. He was shouting out that I was 3rd or something. I didn't believe him, and i didn't want to get my hopes up — but then I remembered there was both a Pro AND an Expert class. Hmm... I started to get siked and dreamt of podiums and champaign.
Smooth sailing! Cleaned everything! Settled down and rode like a real mountain biker, riding a tight-rope up the edges of the trail on the muddy uphills. I was so proud. The marshes were getting nasty, and I swear I could smell stagnant horse poop in the water AND IT WAS SPLASHING ON MY BOTTLES!
Chain suck! I had to switch it into the middle ring and muscle it out. I passed a BikeClicks guy cramping on the ground (from all the mud) and I felt like a cramp coming on. The second half of the lap I was trying to gun it as much as I could — thinking teammate Karwash or another rider would come from behind and steal my potential podium.
So the South won this battle. Backwoods and other Louisville riders took the first four spots, I came in 5th. But I think I might have been third in the Expert class, but what I didn't know was that I was FIRST in the 30-39 age group. It feels a bit cheap but I got paid some sweet money and this is my first win since November of 2009, 44 races ago. But in all reality, getting fifth in this field and third in Expert is a major result for me.
The South also won in another way. I got the shits — I think from that nasty marsh water on my water bottles. Would this be known as General Butler's revenge?