Sunday, November 15, 2009

Kicking it Swank Style!

Last Sunday was the 11th annual Swank 65 (k) in Pisgah. Did this event for the first time two years ago and it was super awesome because 1. its Pisgah, 2. the weather for the first weekend in Nov. was pretty dang good, 3. i traveled with Ed, Larry, and wife of Larry, 4. rode myself into 2nd place SS, and 16th overall without realizing it. Time goes by, blah, blah, this year has been the year to do more stupid-long endurance type events for me ever and this seemed a fitting way to end the "season". Sure, if something pops up it could happen but for me any serious racing is most likely done (Ed did do the 6-hour race at Lock 4 yesterday-more on that later). Some good K-town folk signed up- Googe who is always crazy strong, Shawn from Harper's , and Ben whose genes allow him to ride any type of bike anywhere, anytime. Left early in the AM Sunday and with 40 being closed detoured through Newport and Hot Springs to dump out on the North side of Asheville. Ended up only taking about 20 minutes longer travel time which was good. Got to the Fish hatchery area, got ready, and lined the bikes up for the LeMans start. Ran (stupid) then got to pedalling, nice gradual uphill singletrack to start, except that I was in the dreaded "train". Found myself with Shawn and we started passing when able but knowing there was a good section of doubletrack at the top of the climb. The course did an awesome job of singletrack, forest road, back and forth highlighting the fish hatchery trails all of which are good. I could tell that Shawn was going good-climbing well and descending superbly (full-suspension, great knowledge of Pisgah, and of course skill help alot). I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want to beat him, and that there weren't separate classes-OPEN men, so we were all against each other. Anyway, we basically climbed up to Butter Gap together but he got me on the downhill. Then it was the not so steep but all singletrack up Longbranch and by the second time up to Glouchester and the rest stop I had caught up again. Then the infamous steep forest climb to Farlow where the descent off Farlow was more about survival with a little riding thrown in. Stayed in front of Shawn's group up the climb and caught a guy who at the time was the second place single-speeder. We rode together out to Farlow and then the crazy stuff started-rocky, steep, leaf-covered goodness, scary but ridable I made it farther than I thought I would but as soon as I started walking, I heard the tires coming and I knew it was Shawn. Just had to keep going, not get hurt and when back on the bike ride hard. Made my way down staying in contact with the SS guy and another dude on a FS rig untill it really opened up and they were gone (SS guy come to find out was running a 32-18 29er!!) At the last rest stop someone said I was top 15 and that made me very pleased, so I quit worrying about Shawn or anyone else and just wanted to maintain that position and if I caught anyone in the process so be it. Flat, rolling trail/forest road to the base of the last forest road climb one I know well from riding over there and is the perfect grade for me not too steep, not too gradual and the last chance to make time and/or make sure no one catches me. Pretty much went into the "red zone" and after racing for over 3 hours this effort was hurting but I knew where the top was and that it was mostly downhill singletrack to the finish. Caught SS guy and FS guy about half-way up the climb said "hey" and just kept truckin'. Later the ss guy told me he tried to tack on but didn't have anything left. Made it up, then navigated the singletrack back to the start/finish without killing myself and ended up coming in just over 4 hours and almost 9 minutes. Only a handfull of minutes behind Shawn and good for 13th place out of 138 finishers!! Very pleased, very tired but my helper for the day (ED came over but didn't race) had a tasty recovery beverage ready for me at the finish!! Googe came in about 20 minutes later, and Ben rode incredible for right at 5 hours! Great day of racing (thanks to Shawn!!) Weather was unbelievably good-sunny and topped out at around 70!! Burgers, beer, won a 29er tire and then Ed and I fired up Papa's and Beer before driving back to K-town!! Thanks to my partner in crime ED for traveling with me-again a great day on the bike (second best of the year-Shenandoah being the best day on the bike this year!!) Looking very forward to doing more of all this in 2010!

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