Monday, November 8, 2010

That's a Wrap!

Thursday Nov 4th 2010
Pre-rode the entire course. Legs feel good. Course is super dialed. Bike is dialed.

Friday Nov 5th 2010
Rode from Williamsburg to the finish. 2 inches of snow overnight has me thinking the course is going to get sketchy.

Saturday Nov 6th 2010
8AM – Slept well. The cabin in Grayling is relaxing. Wolfed down 3 huge whole wheat pancakes. Dan O’Dea makes the best pancakes.
11AM-One more pancake down the hatch. Drinking water like a fish. The nerves are building. We sit in the cabin waiting in anticipation. Got a phone call from some of the early finishers. Course sounds like it’s holding up.
12:30PM- We leave in route to the start. I’m totally focused. Everything has been planned and rehearsed. I feel relaxed yet excited. I hop on the bike for a 30min warm-up. Course seems fine. 2:30PM- I line up at the start and get called up to the front. It’s a huge moment for me to stand there on the front line with the superstars of Mountain Biking in the United States. The only guy we’re missing is Lance Armstrong. Lots of hard work and sacrifice to get here. I feel proud.
2:31PM- The countdown starts. My heart is pumping, my legs are primed. 5-4-3-2-1 I rip off the start line. I know taking the hole shot isn’t the best idea, but I do it anyways. I couldn’t stop my body. I may never have the opportunity again. It seems fitting someone from Michigan leads it out.
2:35PM-It’s a full out scrum as we hit the dirt. Bikes and bodies everywhere. It’s fast, really fast, but my legs are doing it. I stand on the pedals and I move up thru the carnage.
2:50PM-We hit Tornado Alley. I’m the first one in and I lead the train thru the twisty singletrack. My course recon is paying off.
3PM- We hit the next section of singletrack. I’m still on the front. I let up and let Tristan go by. The course has turned into total peanut butter. We’re sliding everywhere. He pushes the pace hard and I focus intensely to stay with him. A couple more guys get around me including Todd Wells, Jeremiah Bishop, and Sam Schultz, but I emerge with the group as we head back onto the two track.
3:15PM- I’m totally stoked at this point. Everything is going to plan. I make the front group and I can take a break and sit on as we navigate down Sand Lake Road.
3:16PM-I go from totally stoked to a fit of rage as I drop my chain. I’m in full on panic mode as I try to un-wedge the chain from the crank. I finally get it out, but the chain is skipping from all the mud packed into the cassette. I try my best, but I’m totally deflated as I limp along doing my best to try and take spots back.
3:30PM- I arrive at the Williamsburg Road crossing. The drivetrain is so packed up, I can’t find a gear that works. People pass me in groups of 5. I stand on the trail with Mitch and my in-laws ready to throw in the towel. Mitch already knew it was over when she saw the front group fly by without me, but I don’t think she had the heart to tell everyone else. Dan begins pushing the bike. I can tell my family is bummed and I can barely look at them in the eye. I decide I need to try and finish anyways. I grab cup after cup of water at the aid station and rinse the drivetrain clean. I think I pulled an entire pine cone out of the cassette. The bike works now and I’m off. All the 100 milers have honed my trail side engineering skills.
4PM- I’m moving thru the field. I don’t know why I’m even trying at this point, but it’s fun and I continue to crank away on the pedals.
4:10PM- I roll up on some riding buddies. First it’s Dan K, Chris Peariso, then Scott Stewart, my old time home boy from Oxford. We’re having fun. I take it up a notch and attack him. Elbows start flying, bars are banging. We come into the final shoot. The crowd is screaming like we’re racing for the win. I open up my sprint and we decide to give them a show. Scott tries to come around the inside. I feel his handlebar touch my leg and I know we’re in trouble. Bam! We go down. I get up instantly and run for the finish line. Scott’s sprinting. It’s close. I cross the line and realize I’ve been struck in the groin with my seat in the crash. I’m in extreme pain as I go to the ground with my family watching in agony. What the hell am I doing? Why do I do this to myself? The hours, the sacrifice, it all seems like such a waste at this moment. This kinda shit happens all too often. But I love the sport. I love everything about it. The dream never dies, not even in a dodgy sprint for 28th and you find yourself rolling on the ground covered in mud and your own bike kicks you in the nutz. That’s how much I love this sport.
4:30PM- The pain in my groin subsides. I don’t need to go to the hospital, I’m fine. I clean up and work my way over to the Kuhnhen beer tent.
4:50PM- My good buddy Don pours me an 8% IPA. A couple of these bad boys and I’m challenging Rob Selle to a squat off and other random human feats of strength.
5:00PM- I’m dropping love bombs on everyone and speaking to my buddy Adam in a British accent.
8:00PM- We show up at the bar. It’s within walking distance to our hotel. Is this good or bad? Dang we’re here early.
9:00PM- Deep conversation with Randy Laprarie about being cold and hungry. I tell Danny Klein I love him.
10:00PM- We’re organizing a ride for tomorrow morning. This isn’t gonna happen in a million years.
1:00PM- I run into Brent Bookwalter in the bathroom. I squat him 10 times. We take our shirts off and flex in the mirror. That’s the last thing I recall.

It’s been a great season. I feel so fortunate to even be able to compete in this sport at this level. Thanks goes to all my sponsors, Notubes, Trek, and SRAM, and to all the people that helped and inspired. Congrats to Brian Matter for stealing the show. He is hands down the man to watch at these races. I’ll take a short break now, and begin my preparation for spring 2011. Thanks for reading, and keep the rubber side down over the winter!