I am starting to write this more than 24 hours after the finish of the race and parts of my legs are still sore. This race is the probably most suffering I have ever done, the most on a bike for sure!
Tammy handed me off to Tom near Asheville, I drove to give him a break and let him work from his mobile office, he is always being productive, that man is. The GPS was a little off and we stopped at Ranger station first. I hollered down to some guys riding crossing the bridge to ask them were registration was. It was one of those small world moments as it was Michael Bonsby, he showed me around the MOCO Epic a while back. I would see him many more times, several during the race as we were yo-yoing back and forth for a while, late in the race.
We get to registration, sign up, pick up our SWAG bag and number, some complementary pre-race pasta, confirmed no course changes with impending inclement weather, drove the opening road climb and walked down to the first hairy bottle neck, checked in to the hotel and had a little pizza to supplement our fuel and protein stores and were in bed a quarter past nine. This is normal for Tom, I on the other hand had to move my bed time up gradually over the last several days, just so I could manage at 5am. I was getting a head ache, probably a remnant of my 38 degree race tune. I took some aspirin a and buried my head in the pillow until my hydration caught up to me at 3:30. I little more fitful sleep, I could not let Tom have all the fun I guess.
The weather man was not wrong and we got up to rain and not quite 50 degrees out. I foam rollered and stretched, suited up, packed up and headed to the start. I lined up with TK on the line, just for good measure, at the front. After a short prayer from the race starter, the race started at 7:02. The start pace was pretty brisk. I fell to about mid pack early and re-caught several riders towards the top after they were fading from the 10 plus minute effort. I felt like I was just warming up. I only saw 3 single speeders pass me, but it was hard to tell for sure in the sea of gearies. I caught one and got on the wheel of a gearie behind behind him, just before the single track. I aimed to mark him as long as I could. We made several passes in the tight single track, until we came to a long train and rode it out until one punchy climb where someone went and several of us followed. I had 2 good saves in that first single track; my front tire caught a rock just wrong on this narrow rise and pitched me sideways, towards the abyss, I unclipped and stabbed the ground with my foot, righted myself and was clipped back in, miraculously without losing any moment or stalling the guys on my wheel. The next was crossing the creek before crossing the suspension bridge. I tried to follow a guys line but he bobbled. I was forced on to some big slabs that everyone seemed to be avoiding. They very slick and under several inches of rushing water. My wheels slide hither and fro and somehow I managed to right the ship. I rinsed the mud off my glasses only to have them completely fog up for the a decent climb out of the river, Then my brakes went out. I just put new pads in for the race and the grit wore them down some much that I had adjust my mechicals. The self adjusting nature of hydraulics was looking pretty goo right about then. I lost some places a couple times until I got it right, stashed my glasses in a pocket and got back to it. I did not stop for rest stop one, as #2 was so close. I passed several that did stop, including that SSer that I marked. "Now on to the fire road portion of today's activities', That SSer cuaght and passed me, commenting on the size of my gear, we were both standing. I was feeling pretty good, though, with a just a few twinges of cramps around mile 40. From 50 on they were increasing. The rain stopped and the sun made its way out. But the damage was done, my bike and I were covered in mud. I switched from my cool weather fueling and tried to get more water into the mix. I was happy with pretty much all my rest stops, as they were quick and the volunteers very helpful. I dropped my vest and long gloves at #4, filled my bottles and heard them say it would be 35 miles till i got back there. It took a while for that to sink in, when about 20 miles into that 35, I see a pop up at a "T" intersection, thinking it was and aid station, I asked for water. They said they were not an aid station, they topped me off anyway and said the real one was still 15 miles away.
My average speed was bouncing between 11 and 10 MPH, I was starting to have hopes of a sub 10 hour time, 9:40 even maybe. Things were looking up as long as I could keep the cramps at bay and now this queasiness in my stomach.
This is really long already and I need to go to bed. Look for part 2 soon, I should have my results by then as well. See Part 2 Here