Sunday, June 03, 2007

Results Are Way Overrated...

Well, the 13th Annual Bump and Grind is over and I got my first taste of racing in the Sport class... a very humbling experience I must say.

Left out of Montgomery in the little blue toaster about 7:15am this morning headed to Oak Mountain State Park for some pain and suffering with a dash of embarrassment. As I pulled into the parking lot, the place was swarming with bikes and people. I meandered my way through all the people and lucked up on a parking place in the back in shade by the lake. I was also happy I made it to my parking spot without hitting anyone cause the toaster almost took out a guy who pulled right out in front of me on his Specialized S-Works ful suspension that cost him close to $5,000. That probably would not have been the best way to make a new friend (or maybe he was in my race goup and that would have been one less person that would have passed me during the race).

I did not pre-register which I will never do again as long as the race has online capabilities. What a big mistake on my part. Why is it they have a stack of approximately 4,000 registration forms but only one pen which was has been missing for the past 2 hours?!?!?! Not to mention, if you don't pre-register, you are not guranteed a tshirt. I had totally forgotten about that and didn't get my race tshirt cause they were out. Next rce I will get it together a little sooner. I think I was in a state of denial since I was planning on racing in the sport class. After registering, I had about 45 minutes to get my gear together and get warmed up. Met up with some of the guys from the team and we headed to the start line.

As I was standing there in my start group, I felt like I was in some other world. I couldn't quite get my brain around the fact that I was about to race 17 miles. Wht exactly was I doing here? I just kind of looked around and about that time, the horned sounded and we were off!

Any worries I had about racing in the Sport class disappeared as soon as I clipped in my pedals. I had forgotten how much fun starts can be! The B&G start is perfect cause it lets things spread out some before you enter the woods but man was it dusty!

As we entered the woods, I was probably mid-pack and settled in with a group for the next few miles. Then the 40-45 age group caught up with us and they were moving like a herd of buffalo. There never seemed to be any part of this race that did not have any traffic. But my philosophy is, if you aren't in my age group, and riding my back tire, I will be more than glad to let you come on by. The first 7-8 miles, I pushed it probably a little harder than I needed but I was just trying to keep my position and knew if I could make it to the climb, and still have my legs, I could handle the rest.

Well, I made it to the jeep trail where in about a mile I would be facing a 3-mile climb that will make you start questioning your existance on this Earth. It is the most brutal thing I have ever ridden on a bike. It makes Emerald Mountain seem like a piece of cake. Half way up, you enter the feedzone where girls are handing out water bottles and others are spraying riders down with water. Now my CamelBal was pretty full but I took a bottle and it was he best tasting Gatorade I had ever tasted. Then when I was asked if I wanted to be sprayed, I was like, Yeah! It was the most wonderful feeling I have ever experinced on a bike in my life. But as soon as I crossed the bridge, it was back to climbing and the angels with water sprayers were a thing of the past.

Two more climbs and I finally reached the last climb that would take me to the summit. I could tell I was about done cause evrey time the road leveled out after crossing the bridge, I thought I was on the last climb. But as I looked up, I saw Chris W. on the side of trail. Not sure what was going on, as I got close, he said his back was hurting. He got about 50 feet from the summit and started walking. I ama shamed to say that when I saw him walking, I mentally hit a wall and walked with him. Let me be the first to say I have never walked an inch in a bike race and Chris and I were not the only ones either. It looked like the wounded coming in from war!I was in so much pain that if there had been a sag wagon, I would have been the first on it. We got over the top and Chris pulled away. I tried to play catch up but the legs weren't having anything to do with it. They were done so I spent the next couple of miles refueling and doing my best get my legs back, not to mention I knew I had blood rock and the bump trail to battle next.

Normally during this section of the jeep trail you can get close to 30 mph. But I had forgotten that my big chain ring was bent so I my speed was limited. But I really didn't need to be pushing a big gear so I was fine with being passed by a couple of guys. As I reached the end of the jeep trail, I saw the markings to drop down onto the bump trail. The hairs were standing on the back of my neck cause I had heard the ambulances had been running all morning with people underestimating how dangerous this section of trail is.

I made it through the first section and came to the infamous Blood Rock section. It has been over five years since I had ridden this section of trail and I had forgotten just how crazy blood it was. There was no way I was riding it so I hopped off and started running down it. I must have been making prettty good time cause one guy told me I probably needed to slow down. This probably had more to do with me looking like gazelle on crack running over boulders the size of my Honda!! Somehow I made it through without blowing out my ankles and I hopped back on to start the second section. This section of trail is where they came up with the name Bump Trail.

This section is nothing but crazy. Again, my mind had no recollection of the insanity going down this trail. For about 1 mile, it is straight down, with several curves, on nothing but rocks, small boulders, with small jumps thrown in to send you flying just to land on more rocks and boulders. You pretty much just hang on for dear life and try not to go down or get a flat. Because if you go down, you WILL get hurt, and more than likely be hauled off in the chuck wagon.

Not sure how but I made it through, but I got down the bump trail and made my way to Johnson Moutain. Johnson Moutain is always tough form me cause it is always toward the end of the race and in this direction, you end up climbing it. And it never seems to ends. I had almost caught back up with Chris again but he had already looped around to the other side of the valley and had about 45 seconds on me. I ended up passing a couple of guys who were having trouble with the short steep climbs and I managed to get to the top in good time.

From here, I had just a few more miles and knew I had to pick up the pace. Towards the end I was putting the pressure on a guy but didn't want to pass and have him pace behind me. So sucked his wheel till we broke out of the woods. I shot around his left side and hammered it through the finish.

After the race, I headed to the team tent to check and see how everybody did. Everybody had a good race and we had some good results. Those good results did not include mine though. But overall, I am very pleased with my results and look forward to getting a few more sport races under my belt.

Pictures to come...