Monday, August 13, 2007

Speedy Gonzalez

Just finished and survived my fourth 24 hour race at Great Glen, New Hampshire at the base of Mt. Washington. Once again our 5 person Co-ed team, "CRUM's Dirty Bums" did not disappoint. We finished with everyone qualifying, no major mechanicals, personality meltdowns, or injuries.

We settled into our usual slot somewhere in the middle of the 24 team Co-Ed category. I was nervous this year. With the addtion of "Dave the punk" to the team, the need to be competitive might spoil our fun. But Dave proved he was a go with the flow kinda guy and kept his competitive spirit in his pocket.

After 4 years of this, the mood campside was a "been here done that" atmosphere. No histronics, no strategy meets, just being in the right place at the right time. Everyone pulled their weight and some extra when Lis, my daughter felt sick in the middle of the night. We just bumped up the rotation and let her sleep through. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, she greeted me at the timing tent to take the baton after my 6:30 AM lap.

Some teams come to win. Some teams just come. No matter what, a 24 hour race will test everyone individually. After 4 years of this, there is always one lap at least that sticks in each person's memory. A lap where nothing went wrong and they flew like the wind. Or the lap from Hell where every tree, trail condition, or other riders conspire to make that lap seem like it would never end.

Being only marginally talented and definitely not fit, I very rarely fly. I tend to have memories of the laps from Hell. I came into the race on only 3 hours sleep the night before. So I was sleep deprived before we even began the race. My lap from Hell this time was my first night lap.

In a fog, I struggled to the timing tent to take the baton from Dave the Punk. Grabbed the baton and began my lap. The first bridge I encountered I rode off of. Down on my back. Thankfully a soft landing. Into the switchback climb and up-up-up. I make the left to begin the descent to the base and my left hand cannot find the brake lever. In a moment of panic, I focus on the lack of lever and slam into a tree. This lap is not going to go well. I am sure of it now. The lever had only bent and was not broken. I straightened it, took a breath, and continued my journey into purgatory.

Most of the lap found me in the wrong place at the wrong time. Another bridge moved out of my way and I rode off it. Rocks, roots and trees all conspired to create havoc for me. And my legs were cramping in places I did not know I had places. But I pushed on. Oddly near the end of the lap, "the Chute" loomed large in my mind. A short steep drop just waiting to dump the tired, the weak, and the unsuspecting. I figured I would just walk it, but at the last minute, I gritted my teeth and dropped into it. I cleaned it as one lone soul said from the darkness, "nice control dude".

"Okay", I thought, "Only 2 more short sections of single track, then the field, and then the timing tent. And some other poor bastard can take over."

It must have been that time of the night. During my lap I had noticed many little wood mice crossing the trail, on the trail, or dead with their legs up on the trail. The little buggers were everywhere. I hit the last section of single track and one of them scoots out in front of me and begins to run alongside as I careen between the trees. And he is keeping his front wheels just ahead of mine. "Damn, even the mice are kicking my butt."

We make a sweeping turn and on the right a long log sits. Speedy hucks himself onto the log and races to the end with me sucking his dust. Stops and turns at the end of the log and looks at me as I pass. I am sure the little SOB is grinning at me.

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