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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Saturday I left my house way earlier than necessary to get my ass to The Cowbell 12 Hour Challenge right here in my hometwon of Charlotte, NC. I needed to get there early so I could snag a primo position for my Suzuki Samurai (my official local-only vehicle) near the course. I was going to use it as my pit and a giant garbage can to throw my bottles in, so location was key. After placing the teal doorless wonder under the crackling high power lines I went down to the parking lot to do the pre-race meet and greet and check out the competition. As usual Zach B showed up just to make my life interesting. His one goal is to beat me this year, and even though he was rolling a single speed he was entered in the open class. I think he does it to mess with me knowing damn well that if I win the SS class, but don't beat him, the victory will be empty. Also in from Asheville was Jason Morgan. He finished less than 13 minutes behind me at Cohutta 100. He had actually caught up to me at aid station 2 in the Cohutta forcing me to run away from him like a scared little girl. He is strong, and what's worse is that he looks strong. There were also contenders from as far away as Vermont so I had to deal with a few unknowns in the seven man field. The conditions were going to be less than perfect as a thunder shower dumped on the (almost entirely clay) course the night before. The temperature were going to be close to ninety degrees, and the humidity was so high that you could swim in it.

I had a bit of a secret goal this year. I have never placed better than third overall (male solo) in my four attempts at 12/24 hour races on a single speed. Actually I have always gotten third overall in every single attempt. Last year at the Cowbell I was two laps down on Eddie O'dea and one lap down on Chad Smith. I wanted to win the SS class, but I really wanted at least second overall and to finish on the same lap as the winner. A lofty goal perhaps.

So after all the pre-race jibber jabber we lined up for the LeMans start. The best thing about cheaper endurance events is that people are prepared to have more fun. Sure a few hammer heads shoved their way to the front, but most of us made small talk as we jogged up the road. We got on the bikes and rode off into the sticky air on peanut butter covered trails. It didn't feel like a hotly contested race for the first few laps and I hung out near Eddie O'dea (who took an early DH spill and had cleat issues early on). Somewhere around lap four or five I was actually in the male solo lead as Chad Smith was fading and Eddie was still recovering from his earlier problems. Zach disappeared from site ( I haven't heard what went wrong yet), and just before we were six hours into the race I got word that I was one lap up on second place SS. I must have passed him while he was pitting (or so I thought). I decided to back off the pace due to the heat, and I put on my looser fitting Youngstown State University Penguin Flyers jersey. I rolled my watch over so I couldn't see it on my bars anymore, and I figured I would kick back until Jason got back on my wheel which would give me a 45 minute lead to work with.

Well this all seemed like a good idea until my friend showed up, and I saw him standing next to my Sammy. I asked him if he had seen the current standings, and he said as of 5pm I was 25 minutes ahead of second. "WHAT??" I checked the results myself and my addled brain came to the same conclusion, so I went out back out on the course to put in a couple lap times that would hopefully discourage him. I flew through the next lap, but on my second attempt to lay down a fast lap Jason caught me. I told him he just took the lead, and he disagreed with me. He wasn't sure what lap he was on, and I didn't know what lap I was on, but he was confident that I still had a lap on him. He was riding super strong, and I had no chance when I tried to stay on his wheel. I was mentally defeated. I started doing the math (which is pretty much impossible when you have ridden your brains out) and I figured out that if he just took the lead I could do one more REALLY slow lap and finish in eleven hours take second. I also figured that if I was a lap ahead of him I would need to do two more laps to seal the win ( I think).

I wasn't sure what I wanted to see when I finished that lap and looked at the results. Two more laps to win sounded nice, but one more lap for second sounded a lot better at the time. There would be no shame in loosing to Jason. He is a strong rider, and he is riding a 29'er so I can just use the "superior bike" excuse (just kidding). I looked at the standings, and I really had a hard time figuring them out. I was too tired to do the math so I asked Arleigh of Black Sheep Cycles to confirm what I was thinking. She felt pretty sure that I was still ahead of Jason by just under a lap. I was slightly devastated as I had been menatlly preparing for one more lap, and it just turned into a "two to go" scenario. After a lot of cursing my fate I was informed that I needed lights to go back out on the course. ****. My lights are back up at the top of the hill, but luckily Arleigh came through with a demo HID, and I headed back out on the course cussing up a storm.

It was never dark enough on the next lap to actually use the light, but I did have a problem. I put it on in such a hurry that I didn't notice that the shim wasn't thick enough to keep the light on tight. On the first bumpy downhill the light flopped around and ended up pointing at the sky. Unnngggg. I took the light off and shimmed it with a Hammergel wrapper. I finished out the lap and made it back to the timing tent. Namrita (Eddie's fiance' and fellow endurance racer) informed me that not only was I in first in the SS class, I was second overall, and on the lead lap with Eddie. Alright, time to keep the emotions in check and finish it out.

I went out to meet the darkness, and to ride as carefully as possible. I was starting to cramp in all kinds of places, and I figured that if I wasn't careful I would end up in the fetal postion on the side of the trail watching Jason pass me. I felt my calf, my inner thigh, and the arch of my left foot all competing with each other to see which one could shut me down. I pushed up everything that required anaerobic effort and remounted my bike s-l-o-w-l-y. When I got into the final little loop I knew the race would be over in less than ten minutes. I had my MP3 player on shuffle (with something like 350 songs), and when I hit the final section of trail Stone Temple Pilot's "Meatplow" started playing. I lost it. I started hollering and whooping it up like I had just won the lottery. I don't think the other riders I passed in that last quarter mile knew what to think of me as I rode like a maniac screaming through the woods, but that really wasn't my problem. I rode outta the woods, across the line, and snagged all of my goals.

First SS solo male

Second solo male overall

I finished on the lead lap nine minutes behind Eddie ( I don't think he was being pushed into going to fast as he had a fat lead on second)

Congrats to Eddie O'dea and Rebecca Tomawicki-wicki-wicki on your first place solo efforts. Also a big thanks to Jason Morgan for making it a "real race". I had a hard time out there, and you really, really, really made winning hurt as much as possible.

BTW: Zach, are you OK??
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
brado1 said:
Great write-up/race report Rich! congrats on your win! :thumbsup: what no pix?...man get the boy trained to take some photos :D Gotta have more Cowbell! :p
The Boy is up in Ohio for six weeks so I lost my support guy and PR rep. His photos are usually blurry (if they are an action photo) or crystal clear (if it is a bail of hay or a rock) anyways.
There were cameras all over the place so maybe a FREE pic will show up. It's nice that pros come to take photos at these races, but I don't think I am gonna throw down a chunk of change for a photo of me suffering. I've seen it, and it ain't pretty.
 

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teamdicky said:
I'm out for ORAMM. The Wild 101 is the weekend after ORAMM, and it's the next race in the Ultra Series for me.
bummer. i'm actually training for ORAMM this year....hopefully it will help cut some time off my suffering.

good luck at the Wile 101!

rt
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
*rt* said:
bummer. i'm actually training for ORAMM this year....hopefully it will help cut some time off my suffering.
good luck at the Wile 101!
rt
There's your problem. Training is an ineffective method. I succeed through stretching, meditation, and expanding my mind.
 
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