Hello again to all those faithfuls that still find themselves brought back to this random collection of musings about my bike racing life. I've been a bit quiet this year... Not in terms of racing in general, just in documenting it. Maybe I'll do a 2012 re-cap at a soon but later date. Bottom line was I really needed a year off of any seriousness. A year to relax, have fun, party and eat like a fat kid, and otherwise just enjoy riding and racing without the strict lifestyle it can sometimes come with. Overall I still managed a pretty good year, got to travel lots, hang out with great friends, race awesome races, and even added a few decent results to the resume.
Soooo.... the BT. I feel like I kinda owe it to some of my fantastic crew to give them the play by play so that all their help doesn't go in vein. People like Dan and Nan who pit crewed PRO Nascar style, to people like the Manimal who pushed me to dig just a little deeper on a few of those long training rides, to Ethos, and all of the other people that stand behind what I do. Oh and to the crew of cabin dudes who let me post up on the pull out couch over the weekend! That was a life saver...
The BT Epic has always been a thorn in my side. Well, almost any endurance event can fall into that category. I've been referred to more than once as a 2 and done kinda dude. Two hours and that's about where I loose interest, and fitness. Not willing to let this year do the same piliaging of my soul as the past, I decided to put forth some actual effort instead of shooting from the hip and hoping for the best.
No, this year I would train. Back to back to sometimes back days of 3-5 hour days. The typical ride was from mi casa in Downtown KC to Burp, up to Swope, and then home. It was a good mix of road/trail and left you with smiles for days when completed. It's always an awesome day when you can link up both of those trails. Typical mileage was 45-60 depending on how whippy I was feeling that day.
I did that for ummm, something like 6 weeks. And on the 7th week I rested...
The Day - BT Epic 2012
It started out cold but I knew that it wouldn't take long to warm up. My clothing choice down to my snowboard pipe gloves was spot on. Although I will say my man hair legs didn't look quit as nice as those silly boys with their girly shaved legs and embro. Not sure that's should be allowed in a mountain bike race, but whatever, I guess our sport has to have its pretty legs too...
The first gravel road section came and almost went without any issues. The pace was ridiculously slow compared to prior years it seemed. So much so that after the second incline I decided to take to the front to do some pace setting. I knew I needed the heart rate to spike a bit before hitting the trail and before I knew it I had the opening of the single track in sight. Beings that I was in front and it was $100 to the first one in the woods, I decided to go for it. I stand up, sprint hard to the inside of the road and not a second to early Steve cuts me off to the inside... Like as in cuts the living day lights outta me. Luckily my Epic has auto correct and was able to fix the sliding and skipping sidewards motion that my bike and I went through trying to make it into the single track without crashing. Steve is a roadie so this move may have not been so sketch to him, but to me it seemed a little wrong. It's ok though, now I know how he plays for next year.
So into the woods I go 2nd. Not a bad spot to be in, but it didn't last long. Drew Edsall came blowing by on the first downhill, trying to work his way into the lead but there was ol' Tilly again to make sure that didn't happen. Not sure why Tilford cut back into Drew when he was trying to get by, but it didn't really matter because Drew made quick work of passing just down the way.
Dwayne Goscinski pasted me on the bottom flat section before the first big climb, where Tilford decided to get off his bike and walk causing us two to do the same. It ended up being the only hill I had to walk all day. That's a pretty remarkable statement considering past years where I was debilitated to walking almost ALL of the later hills.
Fast forward a few minutes and all four of us are back together, Drew leading, then Tilford, then Dwayne, and Me. The flow was on high, and these boys were making quick work of everything... but the hills. Maybe my climbing has gotten way better, but it seemed to me the hills were the easiest parts of riding together. On the flats and downhills everyone was drilling it, but when it pitched up the pace came to a crawl. I wasn't minding it at all though, because it was fitting in perfectly with my plan. Ride in the lead group, climb with a high and easy cadence. That simple.
You know it's a good day when you can have a conversation with the guy in front of you and you don't feel like your about to loose your breakfast. Dwayne is always a blast to ride/race with and this was no exception. I spent a good amount of time behind his wheel during the first half of the race and he was having just as much fun as he normally does. What a dude... Freaking animal.
So fast forward to the 2nd checkpoint, the Berryman Campground. I had a flawless pit, and didn't even have to stop. Luckily Dwayne kept us on track and we barely made it back into the single track without missing the turn. Bomb down the hill, cross the road and creek, and then the SAND! Last year this exact spot began what was the end of my race. I believe it took what seemed like forever to get through the sand and to the next giant hill last year. This year the sand was cake, and the climb wasn't bad. Drew had busted loose at this point with Tilford, Dwayne, and I hot on his heels.
I came around a corner only to feel that dreaded loose wobbly feeling in the rear end. My tire had lost some major PSI. I quietly stopped and began my damage control. First Co2 was a dud, awesome. Second worked... Good. Next I had to find my multitool to clean out the bottom 4 gears of my cassette that had become filled to the max with leaves leaving me no bottom gears that worked. I knew I needed that fixed or I was going to be hosed come the long gravel/road section from checkpoint 3-4.
So that's where the race was lost for me. Had that not happened then I'm pretty confident I could have stayed with the leader (Tilford) just fine until the racing heated up later down the road. Up to that point I was completely withing my realm of comfort, and was saving everything I had for the last section of single track and gravel. To me, that's where the real race was going to begin, but sometimes plans don't work out like you expect them to. Instead I was left to chase, and no mans land is never a place you wanna be out in the middle of nowhere, smack dab in the middle of the hardest section of the race. But I pushed on, and knew that if I could stay steady that there was at least a chance I could maybe catch back up to one of the other guys.
Luckily that came sooner than later in the form of Dwayne up the way. He was also have some mechanical issues with his cleats but pushed on to finish a stellar 5th on the day. I was able to break free on the four wheelin' double track full of the giant bike swallowing mud holes. On the gravel I pushed hard, and then dropped down the big road decent only to see Drew a couple hundred yards up the pavement.
Stoke is on high.
I caught Drew on the climb up to the campground, and also the last checkpoint. I asked how he was doing, and his reply was pretty unenthusiastic. Coulda' been the mile long climb we were deep into, or the 35+ miles of hard riding we had just finished but either way that slight hint of discomfort was all I needed to hear to get my mind wrapped around the fact that I had the chance to take 2nd place.
Into the pits and again my whole crew was on it. I had to used a floor pump to air up the rear tire that was back down to 10psi. During this Dan fed me a banana, Nan found me a spare Co2 (thanks Jamie!), and threw in a new full bottle into my cage. Within just a minute or so I was aired back up, and back on the way into the last single track section.
Drew's pit was almost as fast but he ended up hitting the single track right on my wheel. There was a short section of fairly technical riding, then a fast downhill, after which I looked back to see I had dropped Drew.
I was a bit surprised at the amount of energy and power I still was able to maintain on the last 13 mile single track section. I definitely had a few moments where the body was getting beat down, but the overall flow of the trail, awesome weather, and the thought of Tilford being just around the next bend kept me going fairly strong. Unfortunately I didn't ever catch that moment of him being right around the corner, and after what seemed like an eternity of thinking I was lost from mile 46-49, I popped out in the grass field and up the double track climb to the gravel road home.
The gravel was just ok, I didn't feel great and there were a few little popper climbs that had me down to a crawl. Otherwise I was able to maintain my 20+mph pace to make quick work of the last remaining miles. Down into the campground, around the corner and finish!
4 hours and 35 minutes from the start and I was done. I felt good, but in the back of my mind I knew I had been yanked out of the chance for the win. Not by anyone other than the mechanical gods, and we all know how that goes. You can have a great race, but mechanicals are always part of the equation and sometimes you come out ahead and other times not so much. Regardless I was able to pull it all back together and still make my way from 4th to 2nd overall for what was my best endurance finish ever.
So that was it... All the prep, all the time, all the pain crescendoed into the one short morning that is BT.
The afterparty was what is always is which is awesome. The people, the beer, the food, the fire. The awards were good, and we even got some sweet trophy's this year. All in all it was well worth the trip down.
Those that are close to me know my plan moving forward. It involves
getting pretty serious. It's time to make everything I've worked for
the last 6 years worth it. I'm there, just some deep dedication, a
strong focus, and the right living and I can finally accomplish what
I've been working towards for so long. I want to be full time, not part
time, not sometimes, but full time. I want to travel and race all over
the world. I want to race the best, even if that means coming in
mid-pack. I want to ride this train out as long as the good Lord will
allow me to, and in the end if it doesn't work out, well you can be damn
sure I won't sit around wishing I would have tried harder. Nope, it's
all in now folks. You're about to see a G that you've never seen
before. Fast is a word of the past, Flying is the new word of the day.
So welcome to the Journey 2.0. It's going to be an even wilder ride, full of what will always be a few downs, but hopefully more ups, high times, and good riding. I promise to keep this thing up to date so you can follow my ride.
As for now, it's that 808 time. Long rides, fun times, and getting the engine ready for next year.
Then it's go time...