Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TransSylvania Stages 5, 6, and 7.

Stage 5:
We left off with Raystown Lake where I burnt a lot of matches charging up short steep hills and launching moguls. The 5th stage was setup to be a little different. 30 miles were slated to be covered, but with only 4 short 10 to 15 minute sections of actual racing, the rest would be easy riding in between the hard race sectors. It was a nice change of pace to roll out as a group and socialize with people you normally wouldn’t get to race with. After a 20 minutes or so we hit the first of the four sectors. We lined up, and the group became a little uneasy with the everybody nervous regarding the mass start on a descent. As usual, our promoters did actually know what they were doing and the sections were super sweet. The only big piece of drama came on sector one at about 25 mph when my front tire got caught up in a rut and I had to plant a foot into the grass and slide to a stop. Sector 3 included riding at full gas down the rockiest stretch of trail I have ever seen (until Stage 6). It was literally a creek bed 3 feet wide that you just bombed. OK well maybe the WTB guys bombed it while I bounced down it. Sector 4 saw a nice size stick get jammed through my derailleur limiting my gearing choices to about 3. I was spun out on anything over 15 mph but still made it down smoothly. The stage ended up where we started at the base of a large spring fed lake at RB Winter State Park. Snacks and recovery drinks were graciously provided to us as always. Despite the overwhelming apprehension from many of the riders regarding the safety of the day, everyone left feeling it was pretty fun. Even the guys like me who are not known for their technical skills.
Photo Credit : A.E. Landes Photography
Stage 6:
Rocks. Lots of rocks. Rothrock Whipple Dam. Tussey Mountain was on the docket for the day. My mission was to drop 9th place on the climb and chip into the 5 minutes on GC he had on me. Jason from WTB was a better bike rider than me but I believe I had better fitness. If I was going to go I had to do it on the first climb of 4 to 5 miles. I started to make my move, dangling onto the back of the lead group. I gained maybe a minute of separation heading into the first descent. Ray warned us this descent was bad in the previous night’s rider meeting. I dropped in and whoosh… the WTB train blew right by me. I focused on riding clean down the descent and living to work back some time later. While dropping down the steep rock infested trail, I lost focus and came out of a relatively smooth line, facing a 20 foot section of small boulders pointing starkly downward. I literally yelled as I desperately tried to navigate through the mess of a line I had put myself in. I have no idea how I timed the rocks correctly but I made it over them.
Photo Credit : Jenn Bair
Later I found myself on the famous Tussey mountain trail, atop a ridge, bombing a rocky but flowy trails. The views, between scans of rocks and gasps of air were spectacular. A long hike a bike section (maybe 100 yards, but felt like 6 miles) found my back throbbing from carrying the bike.

Photo Credit : A.E. Landes Photography
I was bleeding time badly. My descending skills were “writing checks my legs couldn’t cash” All week I had used my fitness to bloat my placing and make up for some of my technical limitations. When we came out to the road… finally dirt roads… I went to town. A few minutes in I saw Jason from WTB on the side of the road tending to a flat, and a nature break. I kicked it into gear, went hard up the last climb in the singletrack and waited. I gained back 2.5 minutes heading into the last day…
Stage 7:
I knew taking back 3 minutes was going to be a hard task, but I came to race and I had to try. While the single speeders and women’s open took the day “off” from racing (the single speeders finished drunk!) I had work to do.
We started and I was immediately in trouble. The legs felt ok, but I seemed stuck in ¾ throttle. Both Jason in 9th and Yozell in 11th rode away from me. I took the pace hard and just tried to stay upright and not flat on the last day. I had 8 minutes on Mike Yozell and knew better than to just give up.

Here comes the drama. 6 miles in a went over a road crossing between stretched of single-track and my saddle slips. Im sitting on a slab of covered carbon angled 45 degrees in the air. Realizing I cannot ride for 15 more miles with the seat like this I stop to fix it with my ill fitting multi tool. I remount after wasting a few minutes, and then… it slips again. I slam my leg onto the nose of the seat and it awkwardly pops back into position.

11 miles in right before the base of a long 20 minute climb, I am flying down some rather fun trail. There sits a large embedded rock in the shape of a wedge across the trail. It appears I can simply roll it at speed if I manipulate the weight distribution of the bike. As soon as the front wheel touched the wet rock face the bike shot to the right. I started to barrel roll to the left side and hit my knee, then hip, shoulder, right hand, and finally double taped my head onto the rocks below. Shaken I popped up in a lot of pain. I mounted the bike as quick as I could and got 3 feet before a stick in my rear wheel stopped me. I hopped back off, checked the bike over and remounted in considerable pain. My entire left leg was numb. Similar to when I crashed at Marysville 2 years ago. The blast of adrenalin helped me as I hit the climb. I was murdering it, or so it seemed. After about 10 minutes the pain sunk deep into my leg and I fought to push through. 6 miles remained when I hit the checkpoint where Lauren was handing out bottles. Here’s a glimpse into a not so fun 10 seconds of my life:

Me” Did Yozell come through?”
Lauren “Yes”
Me “WHATS the GAP!”
Lauren “Don’t worry about it”
Me “WHATS theG AP!”
Lauren “10 minutes”
Me (thinking 10 is greater than 8) “FUCK” Now what Lauren was saying while I was thinking was “he took a wrong turn and cut the course” I didn’t hear than part. I took off spiriting determined to get back 2 minutes in the last 6 miles. I never left the big ring. I was hammering. I crossed the line reeling in pain. I took a not so gracefully, over dramatic seat… and cyclingdirt.org was there to capture it.
Watch in horror as I realize what happened.
Cyclingdirt interview:

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I ended up remaining 10th after Yozell’s time was adjusted for the cut sector. The race was done and it was time to party… Next we will wrap up the race and dive into the festivities of the last night at TSE!

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