Tuesday, June 22, 2010

24 Hours of Creek to Peak

24 Hours of Creek to Peak - race recap - 2nd place sport

A place on the podium. You'd think I'd be excited, but not really. 24 Hours of Big Bear was canceled this year. I wasn't sure what race to do that weekend, until I got in touch with Jeff. His team was looking for someone to fill a spot, so I decided it was fate.

Packed up all of my stuff, why that takes so long I don't know, and headed down to Eleanor, WV. It was a long drive, but I would be staying Friday through Sunday, so it was bearable. I was first to arrive at camp, and noticed there were not many other groups camped. I found a place that had electric, shade, and a central location. Home. Set up the trailer and awaited the rest of the team.

Jeff, Dave, and Chris arrived in the next few hours and set up camp. We then went out for an easy pre-ride. It was raining, thought the forecast had not called for it, I should've realized the foreshadowing.

The trails were tight and running pretty fast. The name of the race was telling, Creek to Peak. Basically, we had to ride up a series of switchbacks to the top of the peak. Then rode around on top, then headed down the back side. Well-maintained trails, some easy sections, some technical, rocky sections. The back side was a surprise though. For quite a while we could see camp, but it never seemed to get any closer. At this point the rain was heavier, and it was dark. I finally made it back to the campsite, but my legs were feeling a bit tired. Found out later my rear brake was dragging a bit. Luckily fixed that before the race.

The rest of the teams arrived, but the fact was there were not many other teams. Well, at least there was a lot of room to camp.

The next morning arrived quickly, and before long David took off on the first lap. Our pre-ride had taken 1:45 at an easy pace with some rests, so we were hoping for much quicker times. But did I mention it had rained again? Yep.

Before long Dave completed his lap at about 1:40. Not bad considering the trails had gotten considerably more muddy. Jeff was next to go. Jeff was the fastest rider on the team, so were expecting a pretty good lap from him. When he was out about 45 minutes, it began to rain in earnest. A very heavy downpour hit.

Jeff got back in 1:35. Next, my turn. By this time it had been raining for about an hour, but had luckily stopped for my lap. I rode the first third pretty well. I got to the top being able to ride most of the trail. The logs were slick, but the rocks had traction. I did the top section at a good pace as well. I thought I was on track for an 1:40. But then I hit the last section.

The back section of the hillside must have been made up of a completely different soil composition. To be specific, I think it was peanut butter. Very quickly I realized my frame was being jammed with mud, and the wheels were not moving easily. Every uphill had to be walked, and both logs and rocks were very slick. What should have taken me 20 minutes took two to three times that amount.

I finally finished my lap, and was mentally and physically exhausted. Chris headed off for his lap. My lap time was 2:20!!! I could see the look in my teammate's eyes. I hadn't raced with these guys before, and I could imagine them thinking they should've gotten someone faster. I then asked them if their bikes were as muddy as mine? Their eyes widened when they say my bike, and all of the accumulated mud.

I cleaned up and my legs felt as they would never be able to ride again. Chris returned with a time of 2:45. The trail was getting worse. And, oh yeah, it began to rain again.

To summarize: course was closed from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. due to severe lightning. We finished in second place, out of three teams. The closing ceremony was brief and orgainzed. We received medals and some swag. The for the hard part, I tried to drive home. Why is that always the hardest part?

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