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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
(x-post from Passion)

The forecast was for scattered thunderstorms in Ducktown, TN – the closest town to the Ocoee White Water Center, home of the 1996 Olympic white water kayaking venue and race #5 of the SERC mtb series.

The majority of the SourceBURN Factory Team bailed. Something about not wanting to drive 12 hours round-trip to race in the rain. Sissies. But Ed & I, heretofore to be known as Team Eternal Optimists (aka Team Dumb & Dumberer) knew the forecast had to be wrong.

I had done everything to gaurantee it wouldn’t rain: I packed all my rain gear, I didn’t clean my bike or wash my car, I brought only black cycling socks, and I tied plastic grocery bags over my saddles for the drive up. I was prepared for rain, therefore it would be beautiful and sunny. Right?

It was grey and drizzely as we made the 90 minute drive from Atlanta up to TN on Sat. to pre-ride, but it was warm and here & there blue sky could be seen. Hope springs eternal.

The course is 11 miles –either straight up or straight down.nothing particularly technical, just up or down. Our pre-ride couldn’t have been more perfect. The weather was clearing, the humidity was dropping, and aside from 2 mud holes the trail was in perfect condition. We patted ourselves on the back for being so smart as to ignore the forecast.


ok, so this isn't from this weekend but it sorta looked like this

We pre-rode, we ate, and we went to bed early. The alarm went off at 6am and we woke up to…………….A MONSOON!!


this is actually a pic from WVa, and we didn't see any cows but other than that, it looked a lot like this

When it wasn’t raining, it was pouring – coming down in sheet, raining cats & dogs, I’m sure a hurricane couldn’t have been far away.


well, maybe it wasn't quite this bad

The rain slowed as we left for the trailhead and picked up again as we parked. By the time we started at 9:45am I was soaked through. But at least it was warm and I knew dehydration wouldn’t be a problem.

Apparently a little hurricane didn’t deter the Women’s Expert/Pro field. 13 women lined up to start and every single one of us finished. Not a single DNF (which is a lot more than I can say for all the delicate flowers in the men’s expert field!!). These are some hard-core women!!

I got a great start. I was 3rd behind an expert girl and one of the pros, Lisa, as we hit the first climb. It was pouring but the trail was in decent condition. We climbed and I felt good. I was right on Lisa’s wheel as we closed the gap between us and the girl in the lead. We caught her and Lisa said ‘on your left’. We both passed and I kept going past Lisa. I wanted to make it to the top of the climb and the 1st singletrack descent with as much of a gap as possible. I knew Lisa would eventually pass me. She starts slow but once she gets going she’s gone. I thought if I could get a good gap on everyone else I could stave off the inevitable for at least a little while.

I hit the 1st singletrack descent with the lead and a small gap and promptly went down in the mud on the 1st turn. Ooops. I picked myself up and pedaled on. It was still pouring.


yeah, i borrowed this off another site but it conveys the mood

A little later I hear Lisa behind me, “Keep pushing we’ve got a gap!” I kept pushing. The leaders in the men’s Sport field caught us and passed. A little while later Lisa passed me. I hung on her wheel briefly but there’s a reason she’s a pro and I’m not!!

The rain continued. I was alone and in 2nd place. Another Sport guy passed. Then a few minutes later 1 more. Women’s Expert was only doing 2 laps (reduced from 3 because of the weather and trail conditions). I felt good and began to think, ‘hey! I might be able to pull off 2nd!!’ Note to self: chickens…before hatched…counting – yeah, bad idea. Because that’s when I hit the descent.

For someone my size I descend pretty well (or as well as 105 lbs can carry you down a hill. I’ll never win a down hill coasting contest though!). Especially on a fast, non-technical course like this one. When it’s not raining………and the trail is dry………and my brakes work………and my tires hook up………and the planets, sun, and moon are in proper alignment. I hit that descent and suddenly discovered that I had no traction, very little brake power, and no control. I mean zero! I was everywhere, all at the same time. If I got enough weight back to keep the back wheel biting in, the front tire was skidding everywhere. Conversely, if I put enough weight forward to get control over the front weel I was too far forward, the rear of the bike slid around, and I was in danger of going OTB. If I centered my weigh both tires slid in all direction simultaneously. I had to slow down.

I concentrated on controlling my descent and got passed as I hit the fire road part of the descent. Ok, 3rd place is fine. I like 3rd.

The descent ends on a steep gravel road with a sharp right turn, a little more dirt road, and then a long paved straightaway back through the start and feed zone to begin the next lap.

As I hit the gravel descent a handfull of die-hard specatators were cheering. I looked ahead to the sharp right and bagan to brake……….I mean, BRAKE. ACK!! No brakes! BRAKE!! Come on, BRAKE! NOW! The spectators were cheering “You’re doing great! Keep it…” Suddenly, my front brake remembered its function and, to my dismay, I promptly endo’ed. The spectators stopped cheering. “Uh……You’re 40 seconds back…” I had hit the heel of my hand hard on a rock and smacked the inside of my right leg with the frame of the bike. Ow. “Uh……Are you ok?” I scrambled to disentangle myself from the bike and with an “I’m fine.” got back on and continued.

The rain had finally stopped but the wind was picking up and the temps were dropping – just like the weatherman predicted. Go figure. I was glad we were only doing 2 laps.

I came through the feedzone to begin my 2nd and last lap in 3rd place. I still felt good and had high hopes. I climbed well but with the end of the rain and the start of the 2nd wave of racers (now ALL the competitors were out on the course) trail conditions were quickly deteriorating.

My tires hooked up well on the climbs and I spun along. And then I hit the singletrack and the 1st descent at which point I discovered that I no longer had any braking power at all. None. Zilch. Nor did I have any traction. My Pythons climbed well but failed miserably in the descents and even on the few flat sections. I was without brakes, traction, and control. The final long descent promised to be ugly.

Suffice it to say that it was as ugly as I imagined. My brake cables were so gummed up with mud that it took all 4 fingers on each hand to pull the levers (not comfortable considering the endo related bruise coming up on my righ tpalm) and pulling the levers resulted in minimal reduction in speed. I was as cautious as possible and got passed. A lot.

Coming in along the the paved straightaway I saw 2 girls ahead of me. I pushed it into the big ring and went hard, hoping to catch them before the finish. The course ends as it starts, with a sharp right turn onto and over a wooden bridge that crosses the river, and then a slightly less sharp left turn off the bridge and onto a gravel road. Only ½ the bridge is open for racers and the turn is tight.

I am within 8 feet of the girl in front of me as we approach the turn to the bridge. She slows and cuts a tight turn. I go to slow and NOTHING HAPPENS! I’m going too fast to make the tight turn and I swing wide heading directly toward a course marashall and the railing that prevents people from falling over the side onto the boulder & concrete lined bank of the river 10 feet below. WHAM! I slam full speed into the railing nearly tossing myself over, yelling obsceneties as I go.

Fortunately I do not go over the rail nor does my bike (though I briefly consider picking it up and doing a huffy-style toss). I apologize to everyone for my language and say ‘no brakes’ as an explanation as the course marshall and everyone within sight asks if I’m ok. I’m fine. I just want to get back on my bike and pedal the last 50 feet to the finish.

My 2nd lap took 10 minutes longer than my 1st and cost me 7 places. I finished 10th and joined the legions of other racers wading in the cold river water to remove at least 2 or 3 layers of mud before shivering my way into dry clothing.

Congratulations to Ed for overcoming mud blindness and finishing 5th in Senior Expert, and to Z for hammering out the 2nd half of his last lap stuck in the big ring and finishing 2nd in Expert 30+. Many thanks also to Tony for doing feed zone.

As usual many thanks to the following: SourceBURN team & Energy Drinks (www.sourcedrinks.com) – you guys were wise to stay home!; Team 180’s (www.180s.com) – that polypro came in handy once again; Outback Bikes ([email protected]) – see you guys soon for new cables, housing, and brake pads; and Hayes Brakes (www.hayesbrake.com), boy do I wish I had disk brakes on my hardtail!!

rt
 

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Still chuggin' along
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Wow, that's a great write-up! Your sense of humor cracks me up :D

How did you lose your brakes?? Geez, my heart was in my throat reading about your crash and impending doom!
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter #4
thanks grrl!

kpicha said:
Wow, that's a great write-up! Your sense of humor cracks me up :D

How did you lose your brakes?? Geez, my heart was in my throat reading about your crash and impending doom!
i run xtr v-brakes on my hard tail and with all the mud and water i wore the pads down to the metal. the back brake pads really needed to be changed before the race but because the pre-ride was dry they worked fine so i decided (yeah, i'm stupid) not to fix what didn't seem to be broken. lesson learned!!

:)

rt
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter #5
mmmmmm! chocolate.

screampint said:
Thanks. Great write up as always. Good job on fighting such tough conditions. I think you deserve some chocolate.
:)

i sat on my couch last night and ate chocolate hazelnut praline filled cookies while my bikes sat idle propped against one another in another room. :D

thanks Sar!

rt
 

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rt, was it you that I talked to next to the river on Saturday? I can't remember if I was in cycling gear or paddling gear at the time.
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter #7
i don't think so.

SheSpeedsNotSingleSpeed said:
rt, was it you that I talked to next to the river on Saturday? I can't remember if I was in cycling gear or paddling gear at the time.
the only people i remember talking to next to the river were a couple of guys from Atlanta who were also washing off a couple layers of race mud. i don't think i talked to any girls who didn't race. (actually, i was pretty bummed about my race so i was trying to avoid talking to anyone! :( )

the paddling must have been great!

rt
 

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I think the girl I talked to was the girl that came in 4th in the beginner women at Tsali. You both look simiar with helmets or helmet hair vs. without. The only thing I remember about her bike is that she has the black salsa grips with red chilies on all the bumps and that her handlebars were incredibly narrow compared to what I ride. Maybe it was her, I feel bad I don't remember her name.

We're probably going to be riding/paddling at Tanasi this weekend, camping some where over night. We were planning on going to WV paddling, but our plans may have been foiled by lack of rain. (The two sports compliment each other in timing). Think you'll be around?
 

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i worship Mr T
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Discussion Starter #9
nope, definitely wasn't me

SheSpeedsNotSingleSpeed said:
I think the girl I talked to was the girl that came in 4th in the beginner women at Tsali. You both look simiar with helmets or helmet hair vs. without. The only thing I remember about her bike is that she has the black salsa grips with red chilies on all the bumps and that her handlebars were incredibly narrow compared to what I ride. Maybe it was her, I feel bad I don't remember her name.

We're probably going to be riding/paddling at Tanasi this weekend, camping some where over night. We were planning on going to WV paddling, but our plans may have been foiled by lack of rain. (The two sports compliment each other in timing). Think you'll be around?
with all the mud from the course this weekend i probably looked like every other racer out there regardless of gender! :D

no salsa grips on my bike (though i know which ones she has and they look cool). right now i'm running the Cane Creek lock on grips with little raised CC newts on them.

i'll be around this weekend for sure. no racing on the calendar till the week after next!

rt
 

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*rt*

Can you get private messages?
 
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