Monday, May 11, 2009

wow what a weekend - Dirt Sweat and Gears 2009

Words cannot describe all that happened this past weekend down in Fayetteville. I'm sure if you've come here for a race review, you've read (or will soon) all about the full out cement/mud fest that insued. Thankfully this was only one small part of the weekend fun. I drove down to Fayetteville early Friday morning to get setup and settled in. This event proved to be the biggest Dirt Sweat & Gears yet with over 400 racers coming out. After getting camp setup and finding where friends were setting up and I had the pleasure of meeting some new friends from Moots, Team Dicky, Will of Bolt Brothers Cycles, Misfit Psycles, and Curtis of Inglis Cycles. The trail was looking wet on Friday but everyone was optomistic it would be great if the rain stayed away. (little did we know)

I himmed and hawed about going out for a preride lap. I didn't want to trash my bike before the race but I did want to try and get a ride on a YBB bike from Moots. Unfortunately the one they had in my size was already out on the course so I quickly jumped in on the tails of Johnny5 and his teammate Dickey on my Quiring. I rode most of the trail alone and at my own slow pace. It was as wet as I'd seen it but I was loving my tire choices for the weekend.... Kenda Klaw rear and Conti Mtn King front. After cleaning up my bike and myself we made dinner plans and headed out to Raphael's for pizza and gyro plates. The 20" frankenbike race was held when we got back. This was just hilarious and painful to watch. The bike was a normal size frame (for 650b or 700c wheels) but with 20" wheels so the pedals were like 2" off the ground. Just about every racers dug their toes into the ground which caused the entire bike to donkey kick into the air. I got some great pictures of it up on my Flick set.

Saturday morning came early and the sky looked ominous. The forecast called for rain around 9am but we all hoped they were wrong, as they usually are. Camping makes it hard not to get up early so I was up by 6am and slowly getting my stuff organized and getting breakfast and coffee. Once again Clay supplied a great pancake breakfast for all the racers. The perks were huge this year from the organizers... free beer, free pancake breakfast, $10 worth of free food, free beer and a great Yazoo/DSG pint glass.

As we were all standing waiting to start the race the rain came...right on schedule at 8:55am. I knew then it would be a long day for me. I was hoping for 6 laps for my debut 12 hr solo effort. I also was hoping for a long day on the bike as training for the upcoming Dirty Kanza ride. credit: s3ll0ut

I ended up doing neither. My first lap was wet but I was enjoying riding the trail. I was pacing myself for an all day effort so I was in the back of the pack and sitting in a lot of traffic in the singletrack. I was surprised how well my tires were working. Mini review here: Kenda Klaw 1.95 rear tire gets great traction in the wet mud. I was climbing a lot more than the geared riders around me. I got about halfway into the trail before the mud started turning to cement. It was last year all over again, but this time I had a better bike with better clearance, 1 gear and a rigid fork. I was doing good with walking my bike. I had to clear out the back tire a lot but my front still had ample clearance so I trudged along. My chain started looking like a long log of poo and sounded nasty when I could pedal. I finally made it to our pit area and stopped for a bit to get some fluids. It was only 2.5 miles til the end from here and I thought I'd be back soon to clean my drivetrain, lube my chain and head back out. When I finally made it to the finish line I questioned just waiting out the next few laps to let it all dry out. I ate and drank and got my bike lubed up and decided now was the best time to attempt a 2nd lap.

Back out I went but was immediately stopped in the singletrack and the pushing began.

Push push push

clean bike


clean bike

push push

try to lift bike....too heavy (bikes were weighing in at over 100lbs with the added mud)

clean bike... lift bike and carry til my back hurt

Fuzzy passed me walking and had his bike on his shoulder in a way I'd never seen. I was immediately inspired and I cleaned my tires and picked up the bike for the next 1/4 mile. My shoes were getting no traction at all so it was just as hard to walk up a hill with a bike on my back than it was to just push a bike up. Atleast I could lean on the bike when I was pushing it.

credit: Travis West

I decided that once I got to Clay's house at the top of the hills and saw the entrance to the poop-shoot that I was quitting this lap. I struggled with quitting as I've never quit a race before. I convinced myself that if the conditions improved, I would just go back up the poop-shoot and continue my lap where I left off. That was it for me... I finally made it to Clay's house and took the right turn straight down the hill back to our pit area.... exhausted. My first lap was 2:25 and it took me almost 2 hrs just to get halfway around to Clay's house on my second lap. I could see no one was riding, even the pro riders were carrying their bikes and knew it was just a walking day. I wanted to ride, bad, but there was no choice. I could quit and enjoy the rest of the festival or I could continue to carry my bike around the woods on my back.

I'm still bummed that I quit, bummed I couldn't test my endurance but I had an awesome time the rest of the day. Everyone was still in good spirits and laughing it off. I got cleaned up and got my bike clean and grabbed a beer. I'd say the day was saved by the fun people and the food and beer available. People were quitting the race left and right at this point. Strong riders that I admire were quitting which made me feel better. I felt bad for the teams though with riders who never even got to get out and try it. I feel fortunate that I was able to enjoy some of the first lap before it all just got rediculous.

credit: s3ll0ut
there were huge lines at the bike wash stations so we used the creek to wash up... it only smelled a little like horse poo.

Big big thanks to Clay/Grant and Tryon for putting on such an amazing event. Thanks to everyone for coming out and giving it their all. The people who attend these events make them a success and this event has the best participants for sure! HUGE props to Scott McConnell...the only rider I know who started the 12hr race and didn't finish until it was over. He didn't quit when everyone around him did. Amazing!

I am sore, definitely more sore than I should be for only being out there for 1.5 laps and I still have a lot of cleaning to do on my bike and tent and gear. Next adventure looks to be the Montgomery Bell Monkey Grinder race this coming Sunday. They are giving an amazing deal on the entrance price so I hope I can get out there to support them.

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