Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sweet Revenge...

It's Friday, high noon; Time to draw your six shooter and get the hell outta town. That's what The Manimal, FM and I did - headed down south to the great state of Arkansassy, to ride some sweet trail deep in the Ozarks; Silly-mo as we call it.
We'd been getting psyched to do this 50ish mile pain train of an event for quite some time. The Manimal's first attempt and he had high hopes of a good finish and fast time. I knew he'd love the course and my sandbagged description of it (remember "slightly uphill"). I was hoping that I'd finish, not last, and beat my '09 time. FM was hoping top stay on the right trail and get to through the day in style. My 29er SS was rolling pretty at 32/19, Manimal's at 32/20 and FM was rolling queers gears. Just days before, Manimal had broken his Stumpy frame and had to toss together a Kona replacement frame that had previously suffered the same fate. Knowing how he rides...a new bike was not going to conquer the motivation of the Manimal; nothing can.
We arrive at a killer little campsite to meet Timbo and Brookie-Bobby at Blanchard Springs, which is were the race is held. Timbo makes a five-star lasagna dinner in his Dutch Oven and we all chow down a pre-race meal, toss back a cold one and kick back early for some shut-eye.
The Steel-Bitch Ready-to-rock
Saturday morning rolls around and we ready ourselves for the big race. Eight o'clock start and we are off. It's a few hundred yards of pavement to the infamous gravel double-track two-mile climb. I know better than to get in the back of the pack on this climb because all the geared riders toss it in granny right off the bat, and its a cluster f&%k trying to make any headway on one gear. I get out of the saddle an put the hammer down, feeling good and into the single-track.
The Grind...
Things are going good and riders are flowing for the first mile or so until we hit some technical rock climbs that end up causing a big train of hike-a-bikers. The conditions were same as the past two years; rain the day before has left wet rocks and mud to add to the challenge of an already tough course; shit was slick!
Finally after a few miles we get spread out and are able to ride and race pace. I pass a few riders and grab the wheel of my team mate Kay for a few. Kay has some pretty darn good technical skills and I was impressed at how she'd just monster-truck through some hard rock gardens. We roll through the first aid station w/o stopping.
Things are going pretty good until I bash my bad knee into my bikes stem and leave some fleash for the worms. Knocked myself good enough that I was concerned that I might not be in for the long haul. I'd blown out this knee at the Leadville 100 a few years ago and it has not been the same since. I decided to keep plugging and make sure to think positive and not about the pain. Dig deep I kept saying to myself. 
Burnsey Settled-in
It seemed like an eternity, hill after hill, muddy holes and creek crossings. I'd roll through the check points, sometimes grabbing water but was otherwise doing well with my nutrition as planned ans kept rolling. My legs were pretty tired and I was getting worked as the miles passed.
FM Cruise Control
At about mile 32 I was about to throw in the towel. I was hurting. I was being a bitch-ass-bitch. Thankfully FM pulls up and is all psyched and cranking along with a smile on his face, so I grab his wheel for the final push to the finish. He was indeed feeling good and was outta my sights after a mere five minutes of riding. I pushed on alone for the most part from there on out. Occasionally I'd pass some other poor soul who was about to collapse and I'd shout some form of encouragement to them. At some point hear 'Burnsey' form behind me. It was Luke climbing a long and steep gravel section in hot pursuit. He was looking as strong as I'd ever seen him. I had not seen Manimal since the start so I assumed he was way ahead of me and succeeding in his goals.
Manimal Attack
I finally get to the double track and know its a few miles of ludicrous-speed downhill-action to the finish. Thank freaking baby Jesus, I was ready to be done and toss back some beers!
I roll into the finish a solid 24 minutes faster than my '09 time.Not in last place, felt like total dog shit and happy to have finished the race, I've only had one DNF and I hope it stays that way. It was a helluva a good time and I will be back again for sure. Who doesn't need a good a$$ kicking now and again?
Timbo, Burnsey, Manimal & FM
My ethos brothers and sisters did well in the race. Manimal with 5th in SS, Dave with 3rd in SS and Sarah 3rd in Women's Open. The rest of the crew did really well, better than years past as FM knocked days off his time and Timbo actually finished! We were all happy with our results.
You can find awesome event photos HERE (buy some because I can't, I'm broke-ass-beans-and-rice)...
Manimals race report is HERE...
And race results are HERE...
A 'good job' letter from my boys, awesome!

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