The plan: Nice and simple. Go to Michaux and celebrate my birthday with a 50 mile race (ride) in the appropriately named Terror of Teabag race... or is that Teaberry? Well anyway this is what happened.
The Ride: I drove down to Ship on Friday night and crashed at my old pad in Matt and Aaron's apartment. I hung out with Matt for the night, drank a beer and watched some Entourage. 6:00 a.m. my alarm clock goes off disrupting a solid night's sleep and I'm ready to roll. After eating some breakfast I drove the rest of the way to the southern end of Michaux. Upon my arrival I was greeted with a parking lot almost entirely filled with rain water (on top of a ridge none the less). I began to dread the race from the beginning. When it comes to racing I am a mudder, but when the plan is just to ride and the length of the course is 50 miles, the efforts would be comparable to 100 miles. So I get ready and try not to think about what a mess everything is going to be. The start was casual. Harlan led it out and I sat right behind him, but let him go when he picked up the pace. Soon Chris Beck would also pass me on an early climb. Again I did not respond, but just held a nice tempo and planned to do so for the remainder of the race. As we rode through the first couple of trails I became relieved as the trails were merely dampened by the weeks rain and the mud I had anticipated was not a factor. During the first 12 miles I would catch up to Chris on numerous occasions through the rough stuff only to be dropped on each climb. This began to eat at my racing instincts and I would find myself pushing a little harder in the singletrack to catch back up. At the first aid station I passed Chris as he stopped to fill up his bottles early on due to the 1,000% humidity. Yes it was that humid. My skin had already felt drier in the shower than during this race. So as I passed Chris, I was careful to stay in front of him for the technical descent that was to come. This left a gap large enough that Chris was no longer in sight and Harlan was still about 1.5 minutes ahead. From here, the next 20 some miles would be almost exclusively singletrack. I settled back into a steady tempo (this time backing off of my pace was a race strategy to avoid dehydrating)and continued on. By the time I approached mile 20 I had lost another 2.5 minutes to the leader. Without concern, I maintained focus and steadily rode to the top of the next climb which would in turn reward me with some more sweet trails. Everything was going really well, and I even heard that Harlan was only a minute ahead of me. I knew if I could keep this up another win might be in the books. Then it happened. I hear my rear tire rubbing against the chainstay on my Scalpel. I think to myself, That's odd, this tire I just put on had plenty of clearance. Maybe my skewer loosened on the rear wheel. Stopping to inspect the situation I concluded that a little bit of mud had built up causing the tire to rub. I hop back on the bike and go about 100 yards and the rubbing gets worse. Now I know something is not right. Off the bike again. I carefully inspected all of the surrounding areas until I see it... You've got to be effin kidding me! I notice that the left chainstay had decided to migrate away from the front triangle. I smash it back in and realize where I am at on the course. I specifically remembered this section of trail as this is where Jeff Schalk had been forced to walk along the course last year after the race. I also remembered he had not returned to the start/finish after hours of walking as this was the farthest spot away from anything that you can possibly be. So I took all precautions and proceeded to carefully ride my bike as slowly as possible until..... clunk! Now I'm off the bike again and for good as both chainstays had completely separated from the rest of the bike. Oh well, shit happens and I'm not hurt. Only 6 more miles of walking through Michaux and I will be able to get a ride back to the parking lot from my parents who are probably expecting to cheer me on and hand me a bottle within the next 20 minutes. That 20 minutes would take over 2 hours. There were no signs of life for nearly my first 15 minutes of walking. First up was TJ, who would ride to 2nd place for the day and capture the Michaux Endurance Series win. Congrats. When he caught up, he stopped for a pee break and we chatted a little before he took off. I was expecting to see a slew of racers come by within the next 5 minutes or so, but that did not happen either. Racers passed me as I walked riding alone or with only one other person in 15 - 20 minute intervals. This is the first time that I realized just how great of a place Michaux really is. Its technical terrain weeds out riders by ability like no other place on earth. So I hiked on and after about an hour I began to wonder if Chris had dropped out, but shortly found out that he was having trouble too as he came up from behind me. Once he reached me he got off and walked, explained, some bike trouble and how deep he was in the pain cave. This was clearly visible from the expression on his face. I told him that my parents were at the bottom and would be able to give him a ride out as soon as I made it back. Soon he got back on and rode the rest of the way to the road with some nausea to accompany him on his travels. Another chunk of time went by and I was on the last downhill where I was greeted by my dad. He came with some water and offered to push my bike the rest of the way. Thanks! After another 20 minutes or so we made it back to the road. I immediately downed my recover drink so that I could have a couple of Troegs Hopback Ales to quench my thirst.
The outcome: Some of you might say, "Wow! What a shitty day." , but I try not to think of it that way, instead I see it as a pretty darn good birthday present as I will be getting a Carbon Rush frame this weekend to replace my broken Scalpel. But for the record, I have nothing against the Scalpel even though I broke it. This was my first season on this bike and a great one at that. I just feel more comfortable with the extra squish that the Rush provides for my style of riding which does not entail choosing the smoothest line, but the straightest, fastest, and sometimes gnarliest.