Saturday, May 30, 2009
So my buddy/Mohican 100 race promotor/NUE series director/Ryan O' Dell had been telling how great this event was since we first met last summer @ the Breck 100. The Breck 100 was my first hundy and it was the hardest physical thing I had ever done in my life up to that point. They felt so sorry for me when I crawled across the finish line after 14:30 hrs that the race DJ, Moab Cullen, along w/ Denver Dan invited me to come crash @ their condo which is where I first met Ryan. So anyways I talked Mohican Ryan into coming down to the ARK for the infamous Ouachita Challenge 80 and he returned the favor with some Ohio hospitality.
The race was on a Sat, so to even go I knew I would need some good fortunate. As luck would have it my attendee (Boss Dr.) was a rockin cool guy who had played in the Little League World Series, was a 2x All American Baseball player up @ Oregon, was like California Softball Player of the Decade in Cali, and heads up a couple of pro softball teams; so he knew a few things about passion and athletics. Thank you Dr. Y for letting me off on Friday! That Wed night I did my 1st LP and worked till past 11pm @ the hospital; it was midnight by the time I rode home. Then I stayed up till 5 in the am working on a Wilderness Medicine PPT presentation. Well after 3 hrs of sleep and a long day at the hospital I was in no shape to drive 12+ hrs to Ohio. Luckily we had some freebie SW tix and I scored a red eye to Columbus that Fri morning. Thank you Mom & Dad for the tix & thank you SiR Vandy for the drive!
The preceeding 1 1/2 wks I had felt like shit. Sorry for the 4-letter verbalization but it's true. I was down in the dumps in a nasty funk and I was havin some trouble diggin myself out. When we touched down in Ohio, I started to get excited and felt alive again for the 1st time in a while. Probably didn't hurt that I had just met a hot chick who just so happened to be a cyclist on the plane from LR to St. Louis. To be totally honest I get really bored with the mundane tasks of day 2 day life. I need something exciting & unknown & stimulating (an adventure) to keep me firing on all cylinders. Guess I'm just an adrenaline junkie at heart, beta endorphins have become my drug of choice. Without that sense of adventure with its endless possibilities my life just feels blah...
Soon as I touched down in Columbus, Ohio I headed to a LBS, Bike Source, and rebuilt the Superfly. They were so cool, I got to use a stand and made a huge mess w/ Stan's all over the work area. Their floor looked like a bunch of jr high boys had just left a peepshow by the time I finished sealing my tires. So much love, thanks guys. Then off to the Inniswood Metro Gardens for a chilled walk through the park and beautiful flowers everywhere. I wanted to go pre-ride some of the trail but instead I wound up taking a nap for ~ an hr under a 100+ yr old tree. Just laid out on the grass, barefoot, no worries.
Back to the MOHICAN 100. I pulled up to the race registration a stranger and within 2 mins I had a delicious brew in my hand and I was kickin it with ~15 new friends from Biowheels via Cincinnati. We kicked it all night and they even let me throw my hammock up in a tree behind their cabin. All their friends kept filtering in till midnight including the soon to be 3x defending 100K Female Champion from KY and her pro XC boyfriend from IN. The whole Biowheels crew was awesome, pleasure to meet you all! Even had a fellow med student on their team, we talked a lil medicine & yoga before dozing off outside. Rains came in bout 2am so I hopped out of the hammock and into the tent. Got almost 4-5 hrs of sleep then woke up @ 5ish in the am to chow down on some breakfast. Never can get much sleep the night before these big races...
Early in the am, headed up to the local restaurante and found an all you can eat extravaganza. Saw 3 chicks sitting down and eating and I could tell they were gonna race. So I thought here is a chance to eat with some hardcore badasses of the XX variety, maybe I can get some race tips. Little did I know at the time that one of them was pro rider Danielle Musto and that we would both be getting lost later that day and wind up riding ~50 miles together. After the ladies left I switched tables and found my long lost SS friend, Pisgah Bruce (designer of AWESOME bike clothes @ Pisgah Works!). We met last summer @ Gooseberry Mesa out in the middle of nowhere (45 SW of Zion Nat Park). I was ~45 days into my 2 month Vision Quest and Bruce along w/ his partner in crime were heading out to the SS World Championships in Napa, Cali. FYI: SSWC 09 in Durango, CO this Sept! Come one come all for the mtn biking mayhem that shall surely ensue.
All right, race start finally. Chilled w/ Todd Henne & Sarah Miller (local Arkie friends), then rode up to the start line w/ Bell & Co MTN Biking teammate Rick Sederburg (finished 2nd in Men 50+ 100K @ Mohican)! Took off fast with the 2nd main group and hit the singletrack in ~ 30th spot. Had a few lil tripups on the way to the 1st aid station as my seatpost fell down all the way and my steering was way off. By 20 miles in at the 1st Aid Station I was in Top 40/400 and feeling great. Unfortunately my headset was jacked and had worked itself all the way loose. I put some nut on it and made it uber tight but that totally screwed up my handling. Anyways lost ~5 min workin on mechanicals but hit the singletrack again hard and reeled in 16 racers over the next 15 miles... Then it happened... The racecourse went straight then took a sharp left up a huge hike a bike hill. Unfortunatly I went right with the flow of the trail and kept rippin the singletrack. I knew something was wrong when the numbers that had been increasing every mile started counting backwards. Finally after ~45 mins we stopped and this guy was like, "Dude we are backtracking the first section of trail." I refused to believe him until I recognized a stump I had skirted around hrs earlier. "Oh shit!" Well there goes my race I thought, but I did feel a lot better when another group of 4 riders found us who had missed the exact same turn. We picked up another lost soul and proceeded to find our way back to the racecourse. Aimlessly we rode around for 30 more mins before finally getting back on track.
At this point I had gone from top 10% to the very back of the pack. I was originally really pissed but then I was like "F*** It! I'm in Ohio doin a 100 ultra endurance mtn bike race on some of the best trails I have ever ridden in my life, so stop bitchin and ride." And that is exactly what we did, our caravan of 7 riders started pickin off the field like rednecks w/ shotguns shooting at handicapped fish in a barrel. We finally rolled up to the 2nd aid station and I was so tempted to grab a beer and just chill. My superstrong legs had gone a lil soft and some of the air was out of my sails. Fortunately I had a kick-ass ridin partner who just happened to be a Kenda pro and one of the fastest female mtn bikers in America. She pushed it hard up the hills and I did all I could to hang on. Over the next 50 miles we wound up passing ~100-150 racers. Many thanks to the 6 other lost souls I wound up riding with throughout the day, esp to Danielle for the inspiration. It feels good coming from the back of the pack and moving up in the rankings as opposed to bonkin and goin the other way.
Along the ride I kept meeting amazing people including a rockin guy from up North in a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Jersey, a superexperienced mtn bike hundy guy from Wisconsin, and the pro chick from Niner, Rebecca/Wicki, who I got to kick it w/ post race and was super cool... Another female distraction, back to race report: So the last 25-30 miles I was really pouring on the heat. Even though I had lost well over an hour I was still riding myself into a respectable position and an "EPIC Day" to say the least. In the end I finished 112 miles and >12,000 ft of vertical in 10:02 hrs. Gotta say I'm pretty proud of that finish. Had to overcome some major adversity that day to complete this amazing event. At the finish line, I saw Todd & Rick waitin and cheering me on. I was so happy to see them and the finish. Todd took my bike and hosed her down and Rick grabbed me a beer, man it's great to have good friends! Post race was awesome, we had food & beer & music & food. Got to exchange war stories and meet mtn bike heroes like Tinker Juarez & Chris Eatough who were both super nice guys.
Maybe the coolest part of the whole weekend came after the race. On Sat evening I had the opportunity to kick it with the Niner team: Fuzzy along with his wife, Kristina, and their son, Ian. And I got to meet another Niner SS superhero, Dejay, and Rebecca (Wicki) who was fresh off a win @ a 24 solo race in Italy. I had first met Fuzzy @ the 6 hr Spa City Extreme back in March. Then Dan Lysk from Ar Cycling & Fitness and I took Fuzzy on a lil ~30 mile Tour de Rock ride (mtn style) about a month ago. This Fuzzy dude is actually nicer than he is fast and that's really saying something considering he blew away the field in the 100 mile SS class @ the Mohican. Dejay rocked out too finishing a strong 2nd, so it was a good day for Niner to say the least. We all hung out and chowed down on some delicious Chicago style pizza till it got late and they headed for much deserved rest & relaxation.
I on the other hand was wanting to take full advantage of my once in a lifetime opportunity so I helped Mohican Ryan finish tearing down the last of the banners and we kicked it super chill style. After a long talk about such important topics as the NUE Series & the Ouachita Challenge we made our way through the darkness and towards the flashing disco ball where we met up with the winners of the 100K SS race and the only man with enough creativity to put empty shotgun shells over his rigid SS brake levers, none other than Pisgah Bruce. As we sat around the fire and BSed I had a copper top for my boy, Big O, and reminisced about the amazing experience of which I found myself right in the middle.
What a weekend! It renewed my zeal for life and reminded me of how I want to live until I leave this body and my current stream of consciousness ceases to be. Although I write these words while simultaneously reliving these unforgettable moments, I can not help but be a bit saddened that life has returned to normalcy and I find myself in front of a computer screen instead of peering off of some virgin mountaintop into the great beyond. I guess these are the recovery days, the purgatory we live within until the next great adventure begins...
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Inspired by my good friend Big Head, I have decided to get my blog on... Here goes...
Syllamo's Revenge is as infamous as its name implies, nowhere else will you find a MTN Bike race w/ 50 miles of hardcore rip roarin singletrack of this caliber. OK the OC 80 has it goin on too, but its in a league of its own so thats another blog for another day. Back to the message at hand: Syllamo's Revenge was wetter & more out of control than a Girls Gone Wild video. (To my mother, don't worry I haven't watched those since high school).
We rolled into Mt. View late Fri night and camped out @ the Hwy 5 trailhead. Big O ("yeah you know what I'm talkin bout" -Office Space) & Blockman caught up to me after I had gotten pulled over for doing 61 in a 45. I wanted to be pissed @ the cop but he was so nice. He kept tellin me to pay attention to the road and not look around. After the initial discontent of taking advice from an authority figure esp a policeman I came to realize that the advice might come in handy during the race tomorrow. >>>Fast forward>>>
Threw up the hammock b/t 2 trees and read a few pages from Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries before dozing off about midnight. "And the rains come, and the rains come, and the rains come" -Radiohead. Used the rainfly from my Dad's tent, thought it would be better b/c it was bigger. WRONG. Should have known that is not always true after the fiasco w/ the Swedish Penis Enlarger (just kidding).... Ha ha... Anyways the rainfly had foot long slits in it and I was soaking wet by 2 am. Hard headed I am by nature, but I thought it wise to sacrifice the stars for one night to stay dry & warm so I headed to the Elemente. This is not the first time I have retreated to my Hub of Adventure in the form of a Honda Element affectionately named Elle. Previously I threw up the white flag after being circled by a mtn lion in Leadville and being charged by a grizzly in Yellowstone. This event was far less dramatic but neccessary nonetheless.
After ~5 1/2 hrs of good sleep I woke up refreshed and proceeded to jam out to Rage's "Killin in the Name" as I woofed down cereal & soy milk while simultaneously calling my best friend a puun if he chose not to race in the mud. Peer pressure prevailed and we headed to the race. As usual we were fashionably late and arrived only 30 min before the race began. This left me just enough time to register, do yoga, meditate on the mission of destroying the weaker self within, and take out my fake teeth (can't chew Clif shots with the flipper and I have better aerodynamics w/o front teeth). Hah ha, you outta see the looks. Jumped right out to the front of the starting line w/ all the serious racers in a pair of sandals on a fully rigid SS w/ no front teeth. Their faces were glorious, they all had WTF written across their foreheads. Only downside was I didn't have any time for my ritual pre-race duce or to warm up.
We hit the steep 1 mile climb out of the gates and nobody was really pushing the pace so I jumped up to 2nd place on the UFO (name your bike people, how can you ride it fast if you don't even give it a name and a personality; UFO=Unidentified Flying Object w/ an Untamed Freak Onboard. Let your bike become an extension of your body, be the bike, let it be your friend. On our 1st date we rode in the rain, on our date we biked naked, try it sometime I know 2 people that have done it & they both loved it. Your on a bike in the woods man, surrounded by nature & God and love, fly free "Balls Deep"-Pete Block) Held onto to a Top 6 spot as we entered the singletrack. Up the climb I was thinking "Oh God, why the F* did you bring the SS," I got real nauseous and wanted to vom; yeah only 49 miles to go! Thank you Todd Henne for recommending a 32x20 instead of my usual 32x18. I would surely still be lying on the side of the trail had I not made the switch the day before the race....Back to the saga @ hand..... Bout 1/2way around the yellow loop I fell into a groove behind some other SSers and last year's Syllamo Champion, Matt Keevon. He was taking it easy after just running over a raccoon and getting 3 stitches in his hand. Not sure why past champions are running over raccoons these days, but I thought that story had to be too long for the trail, maybe its part of a new training regimen?
Got to the 1st Checkpoint in around 10th place and felt good, it had gotten muddy so I switched my tune and began thanking the Rain Gods for the wisdom to race my SS. Green & Orange loops were ballin and I'm lovin life on a rigid. "No gears, no suspension, no worries." Caught up to David Bowen on the Orange and proceeded to get us temporarily misplaced (some naysayers like to call this "being lost") but Bowen wisely quit listening to my directions and got us back on the right track. Crossed Livingston Creek as the current pushed my bike downstream with all the fury of a 40 yr old virgin. Got to Hwy 5 & Checkpoint numero dos in ~7th place. Saw the OC 80 SS champ taking off and I was thinkin "Oh yeah!" Amanda (wife of the infamous Big Head) hooked it up on the H20 as I sucked down the sweet ambrosia of the gods (goo gels). As I was taking off, saw Jonathon Sebring pull up and was like "Oh shit, he's already here and he's got gears!!!" So I stuffed enough orange slices into my pants to feed a small Cuban village and I hit the trail, fast... This is the hardest part of the race + being wet + trying to save my energy for the last 20 miles + a lil crampage=hike-a-bike. Kept hearing Sebring behind me so I tried to stay one switchback ahead of him "out of sight, out of mind". Love the guy, but he's in my class, Men under 29. Gotta drop em.
Once I got onto the flats again I turned up the heat, let it flow like lightning and stayed off the brakes. Hit the last checkpoint and took off in 9th, passed a guy..."Yes"...8th... He passes me back..."No"...9th... Top 10 that's my goal, feelin strong, I can do this. Oh shit, something is wrong with my cleat on the right sandal. Damn those phillips head screws knew I should've gone allen style. Bite the bullet, off the bike, multitool out, phillips yes, tighten, quicker, 2 racers pass me, No no no, fast fast fast, back on bike, haul ass, I'm off. Spent the next 10 miles trying to reel them in, but to no avail. I know this trail is like a mirage, it will fake me out 5 times before I actually get back to the parking lot... Flashback to 2006: my first Syllamo's Revenge. I'm 7 hr in, so tired, so hungry, by back hurts, stomach burning, muscles died long ago, dragging on. "This trail is like a mirage when will I get to the trailhead again, is that it: no, maybe there: no, this has to be it: no no no." Jump off the bike and rip apart my camelback searching for anything to eat. About to resort to nuts & berries. Find a blueberry bar, oohh so good, ate it like a hungry bear right in the middle of the trail. "When will this strange hypnotic trail ever end, I'm about to start hallucinating, seeing things that aren't there." .......
Fast forward to present time. Remembering this past moment vividly, I'm much stronger now, sing Radiohead how bout Optomistic "The big fish eat the little ones, The big fish eat the little ones, Not my problem give me some, You can try the best can, If you try the best you can, The best you can is good enough." Back to the Red Loop trailhead. "Oh its on now, let it all hang out on the downhills." Now Rage-"Blasted through your head, Blasted through your head, I give a shout out to the living dead...Just victoms of the in-house drive by, They say jump you say how high." Back to the fire road, now down the mtn, no brakes, saintcha...
Finish line in 5:49, 11th overall, 1st place Men <29.
Life is Good. Let the Social Experiment continue: Syllamo Team Champs: check. 1st place under 29 class:check. ARK Marathon Championship: check. Overcoming immense adversity to complete a goal: check. Practicing mind over matter: check. Killing the weaker self within that says I can't I can't: check, check. Destroying "the true enemy of creativity (self doubt)": check. "This is one for the good days" -Radiohead: check!