About my victories let’s review my goals before the race starts:
#1. Ride and talk clean.
#2 Get into the woods with the second group, and recover in the single track, the first 20 miles is fast and flowy with limited places to cleanly pass, it reminded me of the first 20 miles in the Snake Gap Creek TT 50 miler where I got excited started passing people in the weeds and got a flat tire. Let’s not do that today it will lead to failure of goal #1.
#3 Pace myself, I’m racing my single speed, not by choice (Thanks FOX service!) the week prior was the first time I survived an XC race without completely falling apart, I’ve been training harder on the SS this year but still have a lot to learn about pacing.
#4 If I can actually finish the race try to do it in about 6 hours (a little under preferably).
#5 Do not come in after Josh Kunz and Bill Mickey! We forgot the #Skirtofshame at home so we made a side bet that last person in has to ride in the trunk of Adam Elser’s Kia to our celebration beers at Chattanooga Brewery (45 min away) thus the #trunkofshame is born and someone mentioned putting on lipstick too.
The race begins and the first thing I notice besides the usual everyone clipping in and bumping into each other is our “pro” friend from earlier has a support to the banner around his seat post, I think about how funny this should be when it pulls tight and his bike snaps back like a rubber band on him, I start to move out of the way awaiting the impending snap back...
Bill and I duck onto Old Copper which is flat double track with some occasional rocks and roots, we talk about #trunkofshame bet aside, if we can stick together we’ll try to make up some time on the roads and work together.
We cross an awesome bridge that goes over the Ocoee River and go back onto some steep single track. On the pre-ride we went up what we thought was most of the climb maybe a ¼ mile, Vanessa Marts who was with us said “it wasn’t much further than there was a switchback and then double track” well the ¼ mile was actually a mile of steep climbing, now I was regretting my gear choice and Bill was breathing down my neck so I let him by. I continued to mash at my own pace and try to conserve energy, even if it meant getting stuck in the trunk with ruby red lipstick on I wanted to finish the race! Bill pounded away from me and I just kept telling myself I wasn’t going to get off and walk in the first half of this race and at least I was passing geared guys which was a confidence boost to think about how slow I’d be climbing if I had my fancy geared bike with me!
We finally arrive to the first aid station which I ride by and now enter the gravel grinder part of the race, as much as I hate descending on gravel it was a nice break from the beating I just got from the never ending single track climb. The gravel was pretty mellow compared to some of the stuff I’ve been riding in Mohican country, I just kept telling myself to control my pace I had no idea what was coming ahead of me. Passed aid station two and I roll into aid three I was stoked to see Bill Mickey bumbling with a drop bag loaded to the gills and behind him the flowing red beard of Josh Kunz. I roll in and Josh asks me how I’m doing which I lie and say “I’m getting my second wind” and he promptly takes off. I grab my bag load up my camelbak and leave the aid station before Mickey and after Josh like Cole Trickle trying to hit the pace car.
Josh and I approach the last aid station together only to see Bill in his usual aid station pose we enter the single track together and Bill quickly jumps in behind us ten miles of singletrack to go and all the trunkofshame combatants are wheel to wheel. Josh is nursing every gear that he has and Bill and I pass, I thought the climbing was over but now it is short punchy climbs and I know one of them is going to uppercut my hamstrings for immediate cramping and I’ll be on the side of the trail crying in my pink jersey and my pink handup gloves as I was expecting to happen. I get a lead on Bill and Josh and one of the punchy climbs I gave in and started walking…followed by a loud expletive that Bill heard (Failed at Goal #1). I could see Bill chasing down my sailor mouth and as soon as the climb was over got on my bike and tried my best to keep spinning while going downhill on a rigid bike.
I’m a horrible descender and it’s no secret, doing it on a rigid bike while trying to pedal to fight cramps probably looked like a flailing monkey in tight pink lycra or maybe it helped, I drop out of quartz trail and nobody is in sight, Adam Elser warmed me if I was going to get lost this would be the place and certainly Bill would have yelled if I made a wrong turn right? I stopped at slow rolled the double track looking back for the now deceivingly difficult to see FMBR jersey through the trees…nothing, great I made a wrong turn going to end up in the trunk with ruby red lipstick. I keep slow rolling and I see a couple guys I recognize that were helping with the race “I’m going the right way?!” I ask they confirmed I was ok and I pedaled as fast as my soon to be cramping legs would take me.
Onto Chestnut which had a lot more punchier climbing than I would have cared for, then the Thunder Rock Express…which for all the warning I had about the trail I didn’t think was so bad, maybe I was too tired to care about it I just was waiting for Josh and his full suspension bike to jump over me but it never happened. Get to the bottom of the trail and I hear red beard yelling at me he catches up to me on the flat I try to draft him for a while for a free ride to the finish but can’t do it and tell him to take the win for the #trunkofshame he sits up and says we’ll ride in together and that I’ve earned the win…single speed and all, (for those not in the know Josh races with me as an expert SS in Ohio he chose not to bring the single speed and was ridiculed ALL weekend for it…I don’t care too much, if I had my geared full suspension couch I’d been on it too) so we cruised to the finish line.
A volunteer starts yelling at us "TURN RIGHT!!"
What?! My face looked like this….