Monday, May 5, 2008

Dirt Sweat & Gears 2008!

Dirt Sweat & Gears 2008 was a huge success! I rode for team Cul-de-sac as part of a five man team and we finished 4th with 7 total laps in the 12 hours. Riding with the guys this weekend was special, because for a couple years we were all neighbors on the same street and could ride whenever we felt like it. It had been way too long since we ALL got together for a ride.
Because of my traveling and schedule last week I spent Friday night at home instead of camping out at the race. The tornado warnings and straight line winds also had a role in the decision. I showed up Saturday AM after a 2 hour drive in the pouring rain to find the rain had stopped, but left a muddy mess. After fishtailing the van through a muddy field to the campsite I jumped out, said hello to the guys, and was informed I drew the short straw (in abstention) the night before and was riding the first lap. I learned a valuable lesson in my last mud race and brought my Trek hard tail that I wouldn’t worry about getting crazy on in the slop. It was a Le Mans start to the shooting of a double barrel shotgun (Fayetteville, TN).
I jumped out to a good start thanks to good bike placement before the start, and found myself slipping and sliding all over the open field track. The 1st mile was open field riding in the mud and people jockeying for position before entering the woods. Once we hit the woods it was standing room only as everyone was walking/carrying their bikes and sliding all over the place. At mile 3, I was able to get on the bike, but quickly thrown over the bars when my front wheel became so clogged with mud the bike stopped and threw me. At another point the bike came to a complete stop on a serious downhill as the front and rear tires became thick with mud. I couldn’t get the clay to stay out of the front fork or the rear triangle and kept having to stop and clean it out every 100 ft. Miles 3-6 continued this way – walking, riding, cleaning – until I finally took off the front V-brake which gave me some additional clearance and I was able to get rolling.
The sun came out and the trail dried up a little for the final 3 miles which I was finally able to ride with some speed. Lap 1 – 2:09:09, ouch. The sun came out in force, the trail dried up, and the lap times kept dropping. I was eager to get back on the trail and redeem myself after the slow 1st lap, but I had several hours to wait while my teammates tore it up on the trail. With the exception of one bad exchange (sorry Jason) we had a great time cheering each other on and hammering out some decent times. As daylight started to become an issue we had completed 5 laps (everyone rode one) and I finally got the chance for my second lap of the day. I broke out the new 29er and hit the trail with a mission. I hit the open field with the bike in the big ring and just hammered it. I couldn’t believe what I was riding was even the same trail. I didn’t recognize most of it because it was so fast and dry. I felt strong through most of the riding, but my calves started twitching on some of the downhills in the last couple miles. Lap 2 – 1:14:52, sweet.
We squeezed in one more lap after dark and called it a day with 7 laps complete and in 4th place. The awards ceremony was a wild affair with Gary Fisher himself giving out several complete builds and signing them on the spot.
The crowd dispersed to campsites, beer tents, and the bonfire. We enjoyed some good brews and good stories before calling it a night.

No comments: