Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chainbuster Oak Mountain 9 Hour - return of PMFC

 *As a report on a 3 man team hopefully this will be about one third the length of a normal race report. No guarantees.

I did my first endurance race in a team format yesterday at the Chainbuster 6/9 Hour season finale at Oak Mountain State Park. I don't count PMBAR as a team format since both people are riding the whole time. I guess I should say this was my first RELAY event. Ah, clarity.

I originally signed up for the 9 Hour Solo Singlespeed race and changed last minute due to my concern over what was wrong with my left leg. I went to an ortho doc last week who checked it out and did an MRI. MRI says...not a whole lot wrong. Doc said go ride but don't run. I decided to try something new and play it on the conservative side for the race and had Kenny switch my registration to a 3 man team with Nick and Sean. Having just turned 26 I can already feel my wisdom increasing.

My planning for the race quickly went from obsessive to unconcerned. I made my race pile in the floor in about 5 minutes then went out for dinner and drinks with some friends. Guilt free.

Out at the park, I quickly declared I would not be riding first so I could avoid running. Nothing wrong with milking a minor injury. The order would be Nick, myself, and Sean bringing up the rear so to speak.

As Nick went to ride I began to get antsy. We had a trainer to ride to warm up under the EZ Up. On a beautiful day. With 25 miles of singletrack close by. Yes, I did a trail ride to warm up before every lap. Not the most efficient way to do things, but efficiency was not high on my list of goals for the race.

Relay racing is tough. It confused the hell out of my body, which is used to going to race for 6 to 12 hours and not sitting. The process went much like this:

-Bust ass on the trail at cross country race pace for an hour trying not to puke
-Sit still and eat too much food
-Forget what time the last person went out for their lap
-Spend ten minutes figuring out when I needed to be at the timing tent
-Go ride to get warmed up while full of sandwiches and soda

The course was tough. It went backwards from normal race direction which mean climbing Blood Rock and descending the freshly built and aptly named Jekyll and Hyde trail. My laps were pretty consistent at 51 minutes for the two day laps and 53 minutes for the night lap. I had a hard time seeing where I was going on the night lap and eventually realized my headlamp was on it's last legs. Batteries don't actually have appendages but it was putting out enough light to see that I was on a trail but that was the extent of what I could make out. Jekyll and Hyde was nasty in the dark but I made it through with no crashes or walking.

Sean finished his last lap at 6:08 and the race was OVER at 7:00. Hmmmm. This was a quickly solved conundrum. Nick was next and even if he pulled out his fastest lap of the day we would still be in fifth place. An executive decision was made to continue on with beer, food, and heckling whoever warranted the abuse. Soon after Lee Neal came around to cinch the 9 Hour SS victory and Jason Barksdale was the last official rider to finish the race. Stacey Davis rocked the women's 6 hour singlespeed style. 3rd place I think? Proud of all of them, good showing. Ed and Wael's team was first place for the 9 Hr relay with the PMFC still in 5th.

After doing this event, I have a new respect for the team riders out there. There is more strategy involved than I imagined and the planning between laps is a skill of its own. Chainbuster puts on some of the best lap races out there and hopefully they will be back next year. As much fun as the team deal was I think I will have to return to my solo roots next race to get a full helping of pain fueled by stupidity. Pics later.

I cannot finish this without congratulating my teammate Sam Porter on a 5th place SS finish at the USGP cross race in Louisville. Real talk. Way to go, Sam!

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