Thursday, April 9, 2009

Tale of the Dragon's Tale Part 2

So, Sunday morning started great-killed some La Quinta continental breakfast type food then drove down the street to the Starbucks for some real coffee, loaded up our crap and headed to the race start which was about 20 minutes from the interstate. Drove up over a ridge and down the valley to New Castle all the while looking at the various ridges trying to figure out which was the one we would be riding later. Big mountains of WVA off in the distance, lots of sunshine, super-chilled out for a "race" was making this day look really good. We had heard there would be a neutral start behind a car so as to keep everything together until everyone was in the woods which seemed good since we were on singlespeeds and we had gotten killed on the flat, smooth pavement. The race meeting also included a statement that kinda went in one ear and out the other. "The ridge section (10 miles) is super-tech, unforgiving, exposed (no leaves on the trees yet). Be careful, because extraction from the ridge would be very difficult. There will be someone with a cell phone about halfway, where there is the only trail off of the ridge." Sure, ridge riding, probably like Walden no big deal just pedal.

Finally started at 10am and rolled down the road behind the truck, and who was in front but me and Larry giving Team Ed Racing some serious camera time. Another guy was up there with us who was a local and riding a SS stumpy too and seemed like a nice enough guy who talked alot but again something he said I didn't really pay attention to but later seemed relavent to the day. "I did this last year, but I didn't finish. Its pretty tough." Its only 40 miles with a 4ish mile neutral road start, how hard could it be.......

We turned off the road and it went gravel and pretty soon the real players went to the front-one pro-boy from Trek/VW fame that is a local and has won all kinds of hundies. A group of 5 or so was gone pretty quick (big chainrings!!) and the advertised creek crossings started in earnest. We had heard 2, but there were 6 and all were knee or BB deep for those attempting to ride them, with the last one deep enough for a little soggy chamois action. Gravel turned to legit forest service type road that rolled up and down with a little more up each time but nothing steep at all. Finally, got to the turn off for the first singletrack, which was supposed to climb the ridge, right on top, back around, up this again then left on top to begin the 10 mile ridge-top section. Well, this first climb started with a rocky surface then started to mellow and climb steep enough to walk some, ride some given the unknown yet to come there was no sense in wasting a bunch of energy trying to ride the whole thing. Top of the ridge came and it proved to be very much like Walden ridge back home-super rocky, up and down ridge riding. Got to the first downhill off the ridge and it proved to be quite a hoot-fast, pine-needly in places, rocks every now and then but by far the narrowest trail I, and Larry was in agreement, have ever been on. It wasn't hard, but there was no margin for error because of the width. Got down safe, did a short but really fun loop on the other side of the forest road and looped back to Aid station #1.
Was offered PB and J's by the kids of the station workers, filled up on water, and asked the guy there (he had a Shenandoah 100 shirt on so I figured he might know the trail) how far to the next Aid station-to be located after the ridge ride and he said 15 miles. I thought my one bottle should get me there even though I knew I was getting ready to go back up the 2 mile singletrack we had already done just to get to the top of the ridge, then ride this ridge which he offered had 2 "soul-crushing" hike-a-bikes when you got to the far end. I thought well I have already been walking some since I'm on a singlespeed, they probably won't be that bad.......

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