Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snake TT #1 Part 2

After getting everything set I was ready to push on. I saw another rider readying himself and thought that I should get out ahead of him since I was on a singlespeed and it looked like we were getting straight into more climbing. With motivation was low I let him get out first. Another singlespeeder jumped in the mix and before long we were both stuck behind some geared riders. I didn't much care because I wasn't going to be hauling ass anywhere, so being held up for a second was just fine for me - I'd be pushing my bike WAY more than I'd like to ever admit up ahead.

Throughout the entire day EVERYONE on the trail was great. Greetings as we passed by each other. Everyone was quick to let me by as I caught them - which I greatly appreciated, but somehow felt I didn't deserve. At times I was hesitant to pass because my confidence was shaken and I worried it wouldn't be long until they caught back up to me. But most of the time the pass did pay off and held. 

I did hear one message throughout the day that I had a hard time accepting: "you are my hero!"  I guess it didn't matter that I was having my ass handed to me, people were impressed that I was out there on a rigid singlespeed. For most of the trail it was exactly the right bike for the job. I can't fault the bike at all for the climbs. I don't think I can even second guess my gearing (doesn't mean I'm still not pondering a change) because it really came down to my own physical/mental performance - or lack there of.  But yeah, the Glow Worm was the right weapon for the job. 

The only sections I kinda wished for something with a little more... cushion... were the blazing fast and fun descents on the ridge line. They weren't overly technical, just bumpy and fun, and decently long. Although I had been out in Bent Creek hammering through the gnar on a descent and felt AMAZING, my arms were feeling the burn on this trail.

It was my forearms that first screamed at me. They felt like they were swelling to Popeyes proportions and at times I was wishing for the end of the decent as I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold on much longer. Sure enough, on an unassuming turn I couldn't hold it and my front wheel washed out and down I went. I had just passed a group of guys on the climb up so it wasn't long until they retook me - checking to see if I was ok as they flew by. I was. The bike looked ok, my elbow and knee had a twinge of pain, but seemed to be functioning so I pushed on. Luckily my confidence was only shaken for a short time. Well, that and the fact that there really weren't a lot of downward facing trails to blaze through after that spill. 

The next big descent before the fire road climb up to the last section of singletrack was less of a trail and more if a staircase!  This thing was root drop after rock drop, throw some sharp turns in there and you have an idea of what I was facing. Here it wasn't so much my forearms burning as it was my triceps as I was trying to stay as far off the back of my saddle as I could as I maneuvered through the step trail, picking through the drops. At the bottom I breathed a huge sigh of relief that I made it through clean. I had to shake my head as I made my way towards the "final" stretch as now my legs AND arms were sore. 

I hit the last sag station with one bottle left. I thought about pushing through, but decided to refill a bottle just in case. From here there was 6 miles of "the hardest stuff out here" left, followed by 2 miles of road back to the snake pit and finish line. I filled my bottle, ate a little and downed some mustard before I pushed off. 

Soon it was evident that this last section would step up the rock game. At first I loved every second of it. It was a blast picking lines through and over rocks. I started having fun by taking the "pro" line over the crap instead of taking the clear line around. But the combo of rocks, pitch, and fatigue had my speed down a bit too slow for comfort.  There were a few short climbs, and energy spent maneuvering made me curse upward travel. I probably made the first 1/3 relatively cleanly. Then came a mix of riding and hiking. Then came The Wall. This thing was unreal. SUPER steep pitch. Nice switchback thrown in for good measure to dissuade most from even attempting to ride, yet I hear there are some out there that do indeed ride it. I honestly have no idea how one could, but I'm sure they can - I owe anyone out there that can clear it a beer and a high five - you've earned it!

After hiking The Wall I was ready to be done. I soon found myself hiking. I was getting tired if riding and stopping to get over something that my current state wouldn't allow me to tackle so I just never got back on.  Until someone passed me. 

When someone passed me it helped bring me back to reality that I could be riding this stuff and I'd get a (temporary) burst of energy/confidence and hop back on the saddle. Soon I was on a good stretch and I was able to pick through on my bike.  Suddenly I came upon a rider fixing a flat. I stopped to offer help, and lent him a tire lever. As I chatted with him I realized he could handle things and I did want to be finished sooner than later so I left him with my awesome Pedro's tire levers hoping I'd see him at the finish. 

After crest after crest of expecting to see the radio tower it finally came - I was actually worried I had missed a turn as the ridge line rock fest seemed to go on FOREVER!  From the radio tower it was mostly all downhill. First down a gravel service road, to old asphalt, short singletrack to a short pavement climb and then twist and turn down. I was happy to tuck and coast down the hill - hitting up over 30 mph letting my hub hum. Seeing the cones ahead taking the right lane for us was the most glorious sight... I had made it. Up over the curb, short grass turn uphill to a gravel parking lot finish.
I made it.  All of a sudden all the doubt and fatigue left me.  I had complete 34 miles and 5000+ ft of elevation.  Sure, it was much slower than I had hoped, but in that moment it didn't matter.  I was done.  Texting ensued to catch up with Dwayne and Mike (who had finished and left on their journey back to NC) and to let me wife know that I was still alive.  I headed back to the pterodactyl to change so I could get some delicious chili.  As I pulled my leg warmers off I discovered that my crash left a nice bloody skinflap on my knee. No biggie

 Post skin flap - that stuff is just gross to look at, so you are welcome!

Got my chili and waited around for a bit to see if I could recover my tire levers... I couldn't wait - I had a 5 hour drive ahead of me and I surprising felt like I could drive... so I took off.  Sunday morning when I woke my knee was a whole different story - I could barely walk on it!!  I don't know what is going on with it - it kills me when I stand after sitting for a prolonged period of time - like at work, and is a little swollen.

Rest assured, I am NOT on the toilet. 
I'm hoping it's just a bad bruise, but only time will tell.  It's too damn cold out to be riding anyway, so I'll take the next couple of days to rest up before I get back at it and prepare for round 2.  Of course I'm coming back!!  I mean, what kind of "hero" would I be if I just gave up??

I hope to see some of you out there - if you haven't tangled with the Snake, you should!  Regardless of the crapfest of a performance I put out in round 1, it was a blast of a course to ride!! 

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