This past weekend Cricket and I traveled to Danville, VA to take part in the weekend long festivities. Saturday was filled with a morning course pre-ride with some of our Charlotte friends Cathi Mowery, Laura and Terry Gleason, Bonnie Kelffman, Layla Billowitz and Mike Schafer. We also took O-Jo along and she took full advantage of the leisurely pace by chasing a few squirls and taking a few creek baths. I didn't know what to expect from the course. Id' heard it was a lot like the Whitewater Center without the fire road sections for passing. Well, I don't know about all that but I do know it's tight, twisty and throws a few really steep climbs at you. In all a fun course and that could take a big hunk out of your ass if you didn't give it the respect it deserves. You see, we were to do 3 full laps the next day; and the 6 hour riders, well...I've seen harder endurance courses but this one would not be easy. After our ride Cricket and I contemplated doing a time trial they had planned for the afternoon, but we opted for more time sitting in the sun, eating lunch and generally enjoying the great weather.
That night there was a showing of the movie 'Great Divide'. The documentary that follows the riders long the Tour Divide course in 2008. The race promoter also organized a little Q&A after the movie with 6 time champ Matt Lee and our own, and 2010 female winner, Cricket Butler. It was cool to see all the interest people had. I train and race with her a lot and know quite a few of the stories. I mean, I've always been interested in how a 2,700 mile race goes down but to see others really get into it and check out her gear and such was cool.
The next morning came extra early because of daylight savings time and the fact the our teammate Kelly Hudson decided he'd give us a call at 5am as he began his drive from Concord to Danville. It went something like this:
Me (under my breath as I pick up the phone): "WTF? What time is it?"
Other end: nothing
Expecting it to be a wake up call from the front desk that Cricket set up the night before I quickly hang up.
Phone Rings again.
Me (not under my breath as I pick up the phone): "WTF? Who's calling at 5am? Cricket, did you set a wake up call? Hello?"
Kelly: "Yo, yo, yo. Don't hang up the phone."
Kelly: "Yo, what up c-dub? You ready to get it on?"
Me (with very little enthusiasm): "Oh, hey. I guess so."
Kelly: "Were you sleeping?"
Kelly then proceeded to tell me that he got an email form the race promoter that on-site registration will be closed at the race and preregistered riders only will be able to race.
Me: "What? You registered, right?
Kelly: "No, man. We're turning around right now. Noel's driving and he hasn't registered either."
Long story short, they didn't make it. We slowly got up, ate, packed up the gear and dog and headed to the race course to set up our pit and get all our food in order. We were alone with no support so there was planning for both of us to do. Jason Wilson and Luke Sagur from the CBC team joined us a little later. The race came quickly enough after a slight delay and before I know it we were off. CRASH! 25ft into the race 4 rows in front of me cat 1 and pro racers were on the ground. I make a huge swerve to the left, roll though some grass and onto a parallel paved road where half the field were avoiding the pile. I got in the woods without a hitch and settled comfortability into a strong steady pace. Not much went wrong for me. I had a little problem with a tree but really it was perfect. I went good on the first lap but somewhere in the second I began to feel my strength slipping. 5 min later I knew it was going to be a painful day. What fitness I had was good, but the tank was a small one and the short, steep climbs took their toll. I started to hemorrhage positions and figured I was in 3rd just behind Jason Wilson. On the third lap I lost Jason and was eating out of the 'sufferfest bucket'. As I crossed the finish I was sure I was out of the top 5. To my surprise I held on for 4th and a nice $75 check.
After my race Cricket still had another 3 hours of racing to go. After about an hour she came into the pit frantic because she thought she was in second in the pro/open by just 2 or 3 min. I fed and sent her out to chase the girl down. She battled very well and in the end held on to a solid second place taking home a cool metal and 150 bones. Did I mention the payout was great? Yea, it was great. They even paid in the Cat 2/Sport classes. I've never seen that.
Danville was a great little town and the race was nice with a fun course. In all, we had a great time and were fully smoked by the time we got back to Charlotte. O-Jo slept most of the next day without moving a little paw.