Written by Jason Mahokey Saturday, 22 April 2006 00:00
I spent the rest of my time listening to the iPod, doing some reading, eating dinner and napping. The weather forecast was for rain, but none yet other than a few sprinkles and that was fine by me.
Went to bed around 8. At 10 I woke up to some light rain. At 11 p.m. I woke to heavy rain. The heavy rain would not stop until arrived back in White Oak on Saturday night.
Got up Saturday a.m. around 6:30, chamoised up and headed to the race staging area to register, set up my pit supplies and get the El Santo ready for the coming 6 hours.
A group of what looked to be 20-25 Endurance racers set off at 8:00 a.m. for the what would truly be an epic 6 hours on the bike. Rain, wind, and cold temps hovering in the high 30s and 40s.
The course was a nine mile loop that started on a paved park road, headed though a couple dirt paths that lead to a slippy, muddy hike-a-bike climb up to the start of the single track.
The single track consisted of rocks, roots, a few rock gardens and some mostly middle ring climbs. The first lap I was surprised how well the trails were draining despite the constant rain. This would change throughout the day as multiple laps from the endurance class, beginners, sport and expert/elite classes would hammer the trails into a soggy river of mud, rock and roots. The course was fun, but a dry course would have been great.
My legs were feeling pretty good even with the cold and rain. My plan was just to keep hammering laps out at my pace, try to push my tempo when the trails or roads would allow and only stop to check in and if needed grab a Hammer gel or new bottle.
My decision to use my 4" travel Salsa El Santo proved to be the right one. The Fox 100RLT and Manitou Swinger 3-Way were eating up the rock gardens. I had a couple dabs here and there but this was my first time on the rocks since last year's 24 Hour Champion Challenge. I was shocked (no pun intended) at the times that I would lose my line in a rock gardens but just keep pedaling and the Fox and Manitou would come to my rescue.
The mud and rain just kept getting worse. By the time the Experts started, I found many of the climbs unrideable or slow going.
At one point I was cruising up to the check in just as the Experts where gathering for their start, they parted to let the muddy endurance racer through, many shouting support and patting my on the back. It was cool.
I was able to check in and get out in front of the Experts but once they caught me I did my best to let them by or walk the climbs so they could make it up. They have a LOT tougher race if you ask me. Two laps to get it done, heart rates pegged. Plus it's not often you see a group of 140lb. guys floating over rocks and mud. I can make up my time later.
As I started walking one hill I saw the familiar red, white and black colors of Bikeman.com and expert racer Josh West. So I let out a GO BIKEMAN! As he climbed we exchanged hellos. I would see Josh again later as I was again walking a hill letting the Experts pass. I commented to him that "I do actually RIDE my bike sometimes!" Tried to catch him post race, but out of team kits, everybody looks the same!
By the end of my 4th lap I was really losing brake power. My pads were going, no wait they were GONE! Damn! Thankfully not much speed was had through the muddy down hills. I contemplated switching to the Dos Niner but figured one bike is already "jacked up" from the mud, just go with El Santo for another lap or so.
As the end of lap 5 approached I knew I had plenty of time (about 13 minutes) to get out for #6. The question was did I need to. What place was I even in? So I spied Fernando, an old 24 Hour teammate of mine. He checked the standings and it looked like I was gonna end up around 5th, even if I went out.
5TH???!!!! I thought. How much freaking faster do I need to be to place? Eeessh! I had fun, it was some good training, etc., etc., But it IS a race with the goal to win, or get on the box. So a little dejected and freezing cold I waited till 2 p.m. on the nose and crossed the line, seemingly in 4th or 5th, BUT...
Here, we had misread the score sheet and I actually finished 3rd. On the box. Sweet! Luckily going out for #6 would have not got me 2nd, since I never would have caught the 2nd place rider out on #6 already.
I got some nice swag, a M.A.S.S. medal and 31 sweet M.A.S.S. Enduro Series points.
Equipment rundown: Hammer Nutrition fueled the ride with a bladder of HEED, a bottle of Perpetuem and 2 gel flasks filled with my favorite Hammer Gels- Espresso and Bannana.
Except for my disc pads wearing down to metal and a slight shifting problem on lap 5 in the muck the El Santo worked great and my new 2.1 Panaracer Cinders hooked up on everything but one or two tight mud slick corners. I was shocked. In all honesty, the tread pattern doesn't look that different from the Fire Pros (which don't work well in PA mud for me) but the Cinders shed the mud and grip the wet rocks and roots just fine for me. Nice improvement. Thanks Panaracer!
All in all a muddy, cold ride, but fun race with a decent 3rd place result. Time to focus on the 12 Hours of Lodi Farms in a couple weeks and order up some new brake pads!
Excerpts from "The Soiled Chamois"
The Complete "The Soiled Chamois"
Race Photos by: Dennis Smith
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