Wednesday, November 21, 2018

2018 EnduraRace Dragon Slayer

TLDR: 3 laps. Start time 07:00. Finish time 5:15. Total time 10:15 (1 hour slower than last year). Single speed. 21st out of 41 3-lap Slayers. 138 folks finished at least one lap (holy crap!).

This year I rode my Vassago VerHauen with a 32x20. That gear is a bit short on the flats, but it's what I run for any tech. Lessons learned from SSing the GB, EB, CP, Thumper, etc. - walking technical is more demoralizing than spinning roadie sections is annoying. This years's race started off with a bit of banter; discussions of Make Out Point and how my absurd handlebar mustache does little to keep me warm but really gets other folks hot. The actual ride, however, devolved quickly into me figuring out that I'd be spending the next 10 hours off the back. Guys I usually ride with dropped me like a fat kid on a Huffy. I had zero power to put into the pedals, what the hell? That was about how the whole day went: the ride was hard (expected), the cramps weren't bad (unexpected), but the cold was rough. I dreaded the dam every lap b/c I'd end up shivering by the time I got off it. I'd get warmed back up in the rocks but the final 6 miles would chill me again. As far as the overall ride went, I wasn't standing on the gears on the climbs b/c that's how I threw my back out last year, so I did a fair bit of walking on the longer climbs. My pit stops were pretty quick, maybe 5 min each, mostly thanks to Infinit. If you're having issues with proper nutrition on long rides, check them out.

Let it be known now, I hate the cold. Anything under 50 degrees is usually a hard no-go for me. I certainly won't ride for training/fun and I tend to avoid winter races. However, the Dragon Slayer needed ridden, so I spent cash on a rather audacious Alarming Yellow Jacket and figured 'how bad could it be?'

Cold. It could be really damn cold. My core stayed pretty warm but my extremities were cold enough that my words weren't coming out right when I'd speak and I was having handling issues (lots of shoulder-checking trees).

Turns out, when I got home, I felt sick. Sore throat, etc. Initially, I figured it was just from huffing cold air for 10 hours but the wife took the kids to the doctor the next morning and turns out we have strep. So the chills I was experiencing had more to do with the fever and less than the temperature. It does kinda suck to know that, in the elastic of my shorts, I had 8 Advil and could have had a much different ride if I'd have realized that I had a low-grade fever. The next day I got a prescription for Penicillin, so in keeping with the ATX100k/EnduraRace theme of 'throwback to a better day' racing, I'll be dosing with an antibiotic that's been developing resistant strains since the 1920's! Fun.

On that note, it's really nice to see EnduraRace taking off. Not sure if you know, but back in 2011 (?) Todd posted to BikeMojo that he wanted to start a bike race series that wasn't geared towards cry-baby Stravatards, where all the B lines would be roped off, and where you'd be required to ride the gnarliest things we could find. Based on that premise, trying to take cross-country racing back to a proving ground for how good of an off-road rider you were and moving away from a test of roadie fitness, we created the ATX100k series. EnduraRace spawned from those early ATX100k races and learning experiences. We learned that folks don't want to know they'll finish; people want a real challenge. Riders seem to crave a setting where the risk is real and the outcome isn't predetermined. That you're going to get congratulated if you roll across the line, not just if you roll in top 3. The final ATX100k race that first year was held at Reveille Peak Ranch. 43 people started that race, only 3 finished. Coincidentally, one of the 3 finishers of that brutal race was the winner of this brutal race.
Johnny and the fam

Speaking of the devil, my boy Johnny 'Moto' Russell finished 2018's DS in 8:20 and had more than enough time to hang out with my family while they were waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for me to show up. Congrats man, awesome finish. Hopefully next year I'll be able to keep up a bit better :)

In all honesty, the 2018 Dragon Slayer was a rough time for me. After last year's Slayer, my back went out (pinched a nerve) leading to a pretty long recovery, physical therapy, etc. I'm basically 60 hours and 900 miles short on training this year. This year's triple really drove that home for me, with a bullet. Big plans for next year - stay healthy and ride my bike more.

Me with my rock & my kids with marshmallows.
Not sure who is happier ;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

EB 2018

TLDR: Started at GB. 9:18 total time pumphouse to pumphouse.
Strava link:
Relive link:

2018 has been very rainy. The original EB date was postponed until November 3rd. The EB board made a call that the creek was still dangerous on the 3rd and postponed the ride until Jan 12th. Since I handle the cold about as well as Lindsey Lohan handles rehab, I decided to do it solo.

Jason and I were discussing doing solo rides (he rode the next day, the 3rd, so I got to win the EB for one day - thanks J...) and I got pretty freaked out about dying in commuter traffic. I made a spreadsheet that would tell me when I'd be in certain sections of the ride, depending on when I left and how long I figured the ride would take. It has further use, if you have a significant other or buddies who want to meet you along the ride, so I've shared it. Feel free to use it if you want.

I decided to do the EB from my house (basically the Pumphouse trail on the GB). I headed out at 7:10; it was just barely light enough to see the street in front of my house. Riding Pumphouse down was OK, but the lack of light made judging ledges a bit hard and I donked into a few simple ledge-ups while it was still fading dawn. Also, it was cold as balls (40s). I was, honestly, very worried about crossing the creek and getting wet in those temps. Turned out that the water was noticeably warmer than the air, which was nice (until I got out). The creek was down ~6 inches from the previous weekend and noticeably slower.

Traveling in commuter traffic turned out to be OK. The only issue was crossing to Courtyard on the other side of Pennybacker - I had to wait a good while for an opening. I was the only person at City Park, which was kinda cool. A tiny bit of mud but overall it was really nice. About mid-way through CP I started to be able to feel my toes and fingers which was also really nice ;).

I stopped at the firehouse on the way back for my first rest. Talked with a firefighter while I mixed up some Infinit. I've been using a custom formula for years and the results speak for themselves. I can ride for 24 hours and at the end I'm not even hungry. I do 1 serving every 1 hour, so the EB breaks up into 2 refuel stops for me (3 servings per 2.5L hydration bladder). Hopped back on the bike and booked over to St. Ed's. The St. Ed's climb is no longer a fitness/technical challenge, it's just fitness. Some good Samaritan has smoothed out all the ledges so you can just ride up them. Sad.

Rode back to Thumper, had to get off the road a few times to let cars pass. Drivers were very safe and respectful, I must say. Rode Yaupon all the way up. Thumper was a real beast. It's not like the trail has much flow anyway, but with all the timber in the trail getting into a rhythm was nearly impossible. I thought that Jason was kidding me when he told me that at one point I'd have to belly crawl, dragging my bike by the handlebars behind me - he wasn't. I felt GOOD in Thumper and my time was almost as bad as the time I considered setting an alarm and going to sleep...

Popped over to Walnut, stopping at the 7-11 @ Duval and Mopac for a gallon of water and mixed up my final servings of Infinit. Walnut was pretty deserted. I got a bit turned around at first trying to follow my Garmin until I realized that the route didn't seem to have the new sections. I ended up just doing the route I know and throwing in all the new sections I could remember. Wasn't really sure what the proper way to get over to the road was, so I just re-rode up Endo Valley to the high-line.

The road South to home was a trial in mental endurance. Spinning the 32x20, all alone, good lord. By the time I was entering the trails near Enfield, there was enough traffic that the feeder road folks were a bit jammed up and I felt pretty safe with their speed.

The final leg in the greenbelt was quick. The creek crossings were welcome, the chilly water felt nice on my legs by that point. Ended up hitting pumphouse @ the 9:18 mark.

One of the better Fridays I've spent, for sure. My total time 9:18, which is pretty damn slow, but I had a lot left in the tank. I guess, w/o extrinsic motivation, it's hard to keep on the gas. I should have gone harder, but I had a good day w/o pain or cramps which was nice.

The 2018 official EB Podium - overall AND single-speed. 

See y'all in January (as long as it's not freezing)...

Thursday, November 8, 2018

2017 Enchilada Buffet

So, apparently (it's November 2018) I never finished my ride report for the EB in 2017.

End result: 7th overall, 1st Single Speed. I'm pretty proud of that since I'd only started riding SS earlier that year and my back was out (it'd be a few more weeks before my back would take me out for a few months starting mid-November just after the Dragon Slayer)

Here are my notes, they're pretty poor but it is what it is.

Spin down. Holy crap. My bounciness was a topic of discussion at one stop light
BC - Bit of pain climbing out the back side. Saw the girls. Wonderful kids
Road. So sad but not as sad as I'd thought it would be.
Courtyard and CityPark. Walked but didn't loose much distance at all. Lesson here is don't kill yourself to make up time riding up road hills in granny.
CP - nice change of pace. Lots of folks lost plus one rather shiddy motorcycle.
Saw Gary. Hi gary.
Nate - St. Eds. Pulled me to Thumper
Guy in Thumper, British. Sorry
Guy from Thumper over to Walnut back and forth. Got lost on the bridge. Got lost in WC. Turns out the GPS isnt' all that helpful if you haven't ridden Walnut at least once recently.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2017 ATX100k Dragon Slayer.

TLDR: 3 laps. Start time 7:30. Finish time 4:43. Total time 9:13. Single speed.
I was 3rd overall behind Jason Smith (SS) and Noel Reuter. Right behind me were Barry Davis and C. Baron (hardtail) to round out the top 5 Dragon Slayers.

The inaugural Dragon Slayer was all Todd's idea.
Picture blurry to protect the guilty
I just want to make that clear so nobody tries to kick me in the taint (that threat has been leveled).

Generally, most folks would be more than happy to complete 1 lap of an International Mountain Biking Association Epic trail. However, in keeping with the ATX100k tradition of doing the gnarliest crap at the gnarliest places we can find, doing 3 laps for 80 miles seemed just about right.

I had to be at Russel Park to set up, which meant I had to leave my South Austin home at 4:45 am (holy crap). That's OK though, because I slept terribly and was already awake when my 4 am alarm went off. The night before I'd measured 3 laps worth of Infinit (9 total servings - 1 per hour), put 1 lap in my Camelback, and put the other 2 in dry water bottles so I can add water, shake and go. You'd think I would mix them ahead of time so it would be faster the day of, but I'm superstitious so I don't pre-mix them so as to not jinx myself (we're all weird, don't judge). I also put 6 electrolyte pills in my strap pocket, b/c I've found that I need a pair of those every 3 hours or so to keep from cramping up. I'd mixed up a bottle of my specially formulated 'pickle juice'. It tastes like Satan's butthole and it'll gag the guy riding IN FRONT of you, but it'll kill a cramp in 30 seconds, every time. I was riding my Breezer aluminum single-speed frame I picked up for $100 from an un-named good Samaritan. It's got a shock, so I'm not a complete masochist, but the shock does suck and that aluminum frame delivers quite a beating to the twig and berries...
The Good Samaritan

I got to Russel just before 6 am to see Todd moving cones around. He'd slept about 3 hours the night before too. It's been a while since we'd put on a race so I guess we both had the jitters. He'd also been out late replacing flagging that some brain-donor had pulled down. I got kitted out, chatted with a few of the early arrivals and started directing traffic. We'd set the entry limit at 75 b/c we weren't sure how much parking we would have, but it looks like next year we can probably swing 100 riders? Take note: register early, ya slackers.

Before I knew it, Todd called the pre-race meeting (consisting mostly of 'don't count on anyone but yourself' and 'don't be a dick') then we were off. I was in the first group along with Shane and Noel (who I'd finished the Enchilada Buffet with last year). Noel didn't seem like he was hurting at all after winning the EB, so I figured he'd set a gross pace (I was right...). Shane and I were on his wheel for a few miles but he eventually walked off and left us. Chuck and Dwayne went around us at Hogg Park for about a mile until they burped a giant-ass tire and had to stop. A one-lapper passed us right at that slippery sketch bridge and he also immediately had a flat. I guess passing us is bad luck (take note, motherfuckers!)? 
Pass us and roll the dice!
For the rest of that lap, Shane and I were alone. I'd work a bit ahead of him in the rock and he'd run me down and keep me honest in the flats. Lap time 2:47:27.

Crunch. Squish. Horror.
Starting the 2nd lap, I mixed 3 servings of Infinit and  threw a 1/2 bottle of 'pickle juice' on my bike. Shane lit out of the pit ahead of me, and I caught up to him at some point, not really sure where. I do remember those first 8 miles of rock had me cramping. I also kept imagining that the leaves I was running over where Orchid Mantises, which was kinda freaking me out. Miles 30-40 were the worst for me of the whole ride, probably due to the speed of the first lap, some nerves, and not drinking enough Infinit because I wasn't that thirsty. At some point, maybe in the the South Shore mess, Shane and I got separated, and I'd not see him again until the finish. About mid way through the 2nd lap, Jason Smith caught up to me as I was walking up a hill (take note, he was 6 min behind me at the start), and I rode with him for about a mile before he pulled away. I was encouraging him to go catch Noel, that he was making up a lot of time since Noel was in my starting group. I caught him again at the very end of the fire roads and we finished up the 2nd lap pretty close together. 2nd lap 2:58:41

Make out point. Wonder what is going on with those two riderless bikes...
After a quick pit, with 'The Todds' yelling at me to pit faster, I started my third lap. I saw Barry as I was leaving and decided to give him a rabbit to chase. I fully expected him to run me down but somehow I kept out in front of him. Third lap was pretty uneventful, just the usual despair and agony of an ATX100k event. I was super glad to see 'Make-out Point' (Cody - call me!) for the 3rd and final time. Right after that is the bit with all the Elm trees - it's just a really flowy bench cut for a mile or so. That's basically the last bit of technical riding before the finish line 8 miles away. Just before Russel park I heard my kid's chant 'BE AWESOME DADDY!' and I was overjoyed. They'd surprised me by showing up and had walked down the trail a bit to wait for me. I stopped to give them each a gross, salty smooch on the cheek and I hammered up the trail trying to look way fresher than I felt. I wrapped up the 3rd lap in 3:22:25, rolling into the parking lot at 4:43 pm.

The Dragon Slayer was a great event, hands down one of the best rides I've been on. Lots of solitude, lots of tech demanding your focus and no cars to worry about. The Slayer was perfect initiation into the world of single-speed 'not-a-race' racing. Thanks to the other organizers, I really didn't do anything other than show up and tell folks where to park. Huge thanks to Todd for organizing the event. Thanks to Lee Compton for all his work maintaining the trails.

Big thanks to Texas Cycle Werks, Georgetown Cyclewerks, The Peddler Bike Shop, Orange Seal, Hammer Nutrition, 512 Brewing, and Lezyne Lighting for all the loot and support. I've never been to a race with 75 participants and that many prizes. The loot tables were sagging for goodness sake!

Just like the Immortal Twisted Sister said: 'I Won A Rock!'

Images stolen from Tony Fryer, ATX100k, and Jason Smith.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Enchilada Buffet 2016!

The ride started off with a route that used the new Walnut Creek bridges to get us out of the park with dry feet (very nice). The roll south was brisk, and we ended up entering the Greenbelt about 7:30. [[Quick Note Of Recognition for the loon who tried to jump a wire mesh silt fence along Mopac and pulled a super sweet endo going like 20 mph. Made getting up at 5am so worth it]]. Just before Zilker, however, the ride leader got a bit turned around and took us the wrong way so we had to double back on ourselves. I was near the front and was caught in the mess so I entered the GB, I’m guessing, about 30th? At the first creek crossing a bunch of guys were working their way around the water like they were made of sugar. As I plunged in, caveman style, I called out ‘Yer all gonna git wet anyway!’. The fear of wet footsies helped me make up like 10 spots right there! The rest of the GB ride was pretty uneventful as I worked my way around groups of folks, finally catching up to Shane at the bottom of Walls.

Side note: this was also about the time I decided to take my first big drink of my homemade nuclear pickle juice (50% water, 50% vinegar, dash of salt, dash of sugar). I almost died, gaping like a fish as the sludge had a play day with my taste buds. Pro tip, pickle juice works but you have to be ready for that intense flavor. I found over the ride that I needed to take 3 deep, calming breaths before a shot. It really did seem to knock out cramps within ~40 seconds. It’s a bit of a horror show, but the results have earned it a place in my arsenal.

Shane, on a SS, had to hop off and walk near the start of EZ up so he let me by. As I rode off I was bellowing encouragement, but I wouldn't see my usual partner in crime again until Thumper. I ran into Jason, also on a SS, at the beginning of Soupcan. We rode the rest of the way to the HOL, where his technological disadvantage dictated he'd be walking; I decided to burn some matches. I almost no tapped it but I flubbed the little ledge ramp thingie. Thankfully my wife and kids didn’t see that so I got to ride past the cheering ‘GO DADDY BE AWESOME!’ crew like I’d been upright the whole way. Gary was waiting alongside my wife and taking pictures. He told me I was only 90 seconds behind the leaders and that I was in 9th place! At the very top of the HOL, Chris snapped a pic of my 181 bpm misery.

At the top, I actually had to ask a complete stranger to help me get my vest off because my fingers were totally numb from the 50 degree start but my core was overheating from the climb (thanks, stranger, I don’t usually do that on the first date - call me!).

I made it up Courtyard (Willie Nelson for President!) and the CP road w/o incident. I didn't see anyone so I knew I was pretty close to the front. Entered CP with a guy named Don who seemed unfamiliar with the trails. He was on me for a bit but got lost in all the dust and moto fumes. Made it out of CP without incident and I didn’t see anyone except Don the whole time (he was a nip lost but got it figured out). At the pavilion, I was just starting to mix up my infinit as the leaders were rolling out. Josh called to me to see if I was coming with them and I told him ‘I’ll catch-you-up in Thumper’. Yeah, right...

I hit 45 mph on the way down the City Park road. Tis a silly speed on a bicycle! I rode all of Jester, mostly b/c Chris was standing in the middle of the road making videos and my pride wouldn’t let me succumb to my leg's insistence that I was being unreasonable. I then sat at the Lakeway light for what seemed like 5 minutes, popped up 360 and hooked it up Spicewood. At this point I hadn't seen anyone since I left City Park and wouldn't until I was out of St. Ed's. St. Ed’s went w/o incident; I had to work around a few groups of very nice hikers who gave me lots of encouragement. I walked the death cliff - I got kids man! On the way back to Thumper, I passed a few guys heading to St. Ed’s on the road and they were cheering me to catch the leaders.

Gave my name and blood type to Mrs. Dawn and dove in. Saw the leaders pretty quickly - a switchback or so away and decided to try to actually catch them. At the 2 way section Shane was just starting the rocky climb bit and said ‘Thad, my bouncing baby boy, your family is waiting for you at the top!’. That was awesome news and I set off feeling renewed (to be fair, Thumper quickly crushed those high spirits, but for a minute all was rosy). 58 minutes later on the final switchbacks I heard cleats clicking and I knew I'd almost caught the front group. Got a bunch of hugs from my kids at the station, dumped about ½ of my Infinit into my pack (the other ½ went all over), got enough water in the pack to make the powder at least chewy, stuffed 2 orange slices in my pants (sexy!) and headed off just behind the leaders to knock out the final miles.

Caught up with the leaders about ½ mile up Yaupon - man, it’s nice in a group. I’m generally a solo rider, mostly by necessity (when my wife says I have an hour I’m out the door!) but I do feel a bit clumsy in a pack or echelon. That all said, it’s nice having a pace car and somebody to break the wind for you a bit. I gotta say, Noel, Joel, Josh, Dale and Ben were looking pretty spry at this late stage and I wasn’t sure that having caught them was the smartest thing to have done. But, once again, pride took over and locked me onto Josh’s wheel. In the end, it was a good thing I caught up because those guys don’t ride Walnut much and I don’t know if any of them had seen all the new stuff. We wrapped it up in a 6-way finish at 7 hours and 51 minutes. My new best EB time and my first, well first!

The Enchilada Buffet (EB) was rained out multiple times in 2015 and was finally cancelled. After the 2015 season, management changed hands and the Team IPA guys took over. Putting on events is hard, putting on free events seems harder, putting on a free event that 75% of the riders have done before and have strong opinions about the route and rules seems like a real nightmare. That said, they pulled it off with aplomb (and an-orange as well). Thanks guys, really great job.

Trail Angels - you guys make it so much more fun! Huge thanks to the City Park angel (not even sure who you were, I was a bit loopy) who helped me figure out how to get the water out of the closed jug. Thanks to Dawn (and Gracie) for entertaining my kiddos while I slogged through Thumper - those orange slices are life savers!

Last but not least, huge thanks to Phillip at Texas Cycle Werks for keeping me rolling and giving me these sweet new threads!

See everyone next year!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Nutcracker Epic!

The inaugural Nutcracker Epic was a damn fine time. Fifteen hardy souls showed up to spend the bulk of Saturday's daylight hours battling wind and weather. When we started at 7am it was ~41 degrees; I'm not sure if it was ever warmer than 50 the whole day. Couple a 75 mile epic mountain bike ride with those temps and wind gusting up to 25 mph and you've got a challenging day lined up.

We all started off together on the way over to Wilco park.  However, by the time we got a mile or two into the park we realized we'd dropped a few people and our number was down to ten. We wrapped up Wilco park and the ten of us made our way north to Lake Georgetown (LGT) - directly into a 20mph wind. Everyone took a turn or two pulling as we worked the 12 miles north to LGT.

When we arrived at Tejas, we hung around the parking lot for 20 minutes with the guys from Red Horn and Bat City (they had snacks). Andrea headed out immediately, which in retrospect, was probably what I should have done. The ride up had me sweaty, and the wind, my damp clothing, and standing around started me shivering. Eventually the cold usurped my pride and I asked John if I could get into the heated Red Horn short bus to get out of the wind.

Once we got rolling and I did some work to get warmed up, the trail was great. A few spots were slick but 95% of the trail was pristine. About mile 35 Paul got a flat and we all stopped to give him advice. It was at this point we lost Mark (he was out front). Pretty quickly after we stopped, Matt headed out solo to give chase. I waited another 5 minutes or so but started getting cold (shocker) so I headed out behind Matt. I'd ridden the LGT back in 2012 and, surprisingly, remembered a lot of it. Made it to Cedar Brakes (mile 37) and (surprise, surprise) got back in the Red Horn bus and waited for the group to catch up.

I hung out for about 45 minutes (according to my Strava). The guys caught up but Jett had dropped his jacket and they needed to go back and find it. About this time Kyle (riding a hardtail with flat pedals) showed up. He had a crazy look in his eye - turns out he was eating like a ballerina and was about 2000 calories behind where he needed to be. Kyle didn't want to stop for long and he wasn't sure about how to find the trail on the other side of the lake. Since I had a Garmin with a map and I was getting pretty cold, I decided to run point and head out with him. Kyle and Robert rode with me for about 5 miles but we eventually got separated - I'd be solo for the rest of the ride.

Bat City's Vince was waiting at the end of the trail with food and water but by this point it was very overcast and cold. I just gave a quick hello and kept on rolling. I SHOULD have made up some more Infinit (5% off) but, honestly, the water I was mixing was cold and could barely drink it anyway. By this point I should have had between 6 and 8 servings (with the ride, wind, and all the bitch-shivering I was plowing calories like a competitive eater) but I'd only had 4. My lack of willingness to do what I knew I needed to for nutrition would bite me in Brushy, but there was no way I was going to chug 50ml of cold water at that point. On the ride back down south I was actually trying to come up with a way to ask for a hot beer without sounding like a serial killer (pro tip - there ain't one).

The wind on the ride south on Palmer was, frankly, pretty astounding. I was standing up, out of the seat like a kid on a BMX bike, not pedaling a stitch, and maintaining 20 mph on flat ground. Ten miles of minimal pedaling while listening to my knobbies sing me The Song Of MPH was theraputic, make no mistake. Once I got to Brushy Creek my GPS pooped the proverbial bed and I went straight through the light at Brushy.I had to pull a U-Turn and ride back into the wind over the bridge. I'm convinced that 1/4 mile was penance for some past misdeed.

I'd never ridden Brushy before, and my first trip was as fun as it could be, considering it started at mile 70. I cleaned most of the trail but the last mile or two is covered with ledge-ups; those things got an 'I'll ride you next time, buddy' as I'd stumble my cramping hamstrings up to the top and roll over the other side. If I'd have just drank the proper amount of Infinit, cramps wouldn't have been an issue and I could have given the trail proper attention. If I ever do a ride this cold again, I'm bringing some of those little hand warmers and I'll drop them into my camelbak to warm up my drink.

Once I got back to the shop I gave myself a quick 'how's your father' and headed to Red Horn for some free pizza, beer and a t-shirt. Gotta say, a nice hot coffee and some awesome local stout was the perfect finisher for an awesome day.

Huge thanks to everyone who made this possible: AJ Camp of the Peddler Bicycle Shop for having the idea for this beast, John from Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Co. was the bee's knees and kept my skinny ass from freezing to death on more than one occasion, and Vince from Bat City Cycling helped to keep the wheels on and the rides rolling. As always big thanks to my sponsor, Texas Cycle Werks, for all their support throughout the year.

See y'all next year! Oh, here is my Strava Flyby - it's almost as riveting as being there!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Enchilada Buffet 2014

Thanks to the EB crew for putting on one of the best rides of the year. I understand the kind of work that goes into free-grassroots-local-dirt and I applaud you for doing such a reliably great job. I’d also like to offer a big thank you to the lads at Thirsty Planet for providing a nearly frozen keg of my favorite beer in the whole whirled - Thirsty Goat! Since this’ll probably end up TLDR, I’ll go ahead and mention that my buddy Rob decided to roll his rigid single-speed this year. Spoiler alert - he finished and you should've seen the bruises on his palms - dude looked like he’d been slap-fighting statues.

I went out with the first group and the ride down, shepherded by Craig, was surely faster than in years past (as evidenced by my PRs). In my experience, self-partitioning into faster/slower groups works well. That way, when you hit the GO button at the trailhead, you have a lot less stress on riders and fewer pissing-contests overall.

Once we hit the Greenbelt, Shane and I worked around a few non-natives who were balking at the rock and hooked up with the chase group right at Rudy’s. Shane, running a single-speed got his momentum squashed by a few riders ahead of us but with my 1x10 I was able to work around the traffic. Knowing my fitness level and how much I didn't train for this I knew I should drop off, but I didn't. No matter how much I know it’ll dead-leg me later, I’ll always chase a rabbit. When I arrived at the HOL, my family was waiting for me with signs and cheers - the kind of thing that puts smiles on your face for hours later. A big thanks to my family and Dave (an EBer in years past) who gave my wife a play-by-play on the guys as they rolled up the hill (it’s too early, he skipped something; this guy got lost, he’s way faster than the pack he’s in, etc.). My lovely wife said his insight made watching lycra-clad sweaty masochists much more fun. I stuck with the chase group till 360, then those kids dropped me like stone. Nonetheless, it was nice to hit the Hill of Life near the front.

Jason S. passed me really early on 360; turns out he had to peel off the lead group b/c they crossed the creek back to the east side way too late and missed the turn up Rudy’s. That decision had to be demoralizing but he gets serious props backtracking,hopping in line behind us regular-joes, and doing the miles.

The rest of 360 was a solo cruise for me although I did get some great cheering from the Frenchies - thanks guys! Ran into Paul B. for a bit in CP but the rest of it was solo. On the way out I heard my name being called from the Angel station but I made a silly decision that I wanted radioactive hose water at the fire station instead of delicious Nutella and clean cold clear water from Hoss and company. Sometimes the delirium sets in early...

Caught up to Shane as he was pushing his SS up Jester and stopped to do the walk with him. Josh D. had just passed me a few minutes earlier and for a brief moment I considered chasing him (he was behind me b/c he started 15 min late and had been playing catch up). I decided to let him go because I knew chasing that bunny would pretty much guarantee a grisly death. Shane and I rode over to St. Ed’s together and knocked the lap out.

At the top of Thumper I felt decent, excited actually to get on the trail. ~15 min into Thumper the heat started to get to me. After 30 min, I was getting silly and could barely keep my eyes open. After about 50 minutes I was stopped and was considering taking off my pack, getting out my phone and setting an alarm for 15 minutes so I could get some sleep. A smarter part of my brain decided that’s how you get snakebit so I H’dTFU and dragged out. Shane was wrapping up his Angel stop and asked me if I wanted him to wait for me. I said ‘hell no man, I’ll see you 25 minutes after you finish’ and he took off on his SS. At the aid station I poured ~½ bottle of ice water on my head and I was literally a new man. I threw some water in a bottle, grabbed an orange quarter and hooked it for Walnut. Big thanks to Cindy and crew!

Amos S. passed me working through the neighborhoods to get out to Palmer but he got slowed down by some smog-belching Dodge on the shoulder and I rolled up on him. Since I still had my momentum I called to him to hop-on and pulled the rest of the way to Walnut. He asked me how well Walnut was marked and I said it should be pretty easy to follow the blue squares. That turned out to be untrue - sorry about that. The construction coupled with the a few unmarked splits (root drop) got the best of him. I haven’t ridden Walnut since the last EB and I was unaware of the mess they've made (I still rode the route I knew, orange drift fence be damned!). Rolled in at 8h12m - 7 minutes faster than last year but I attribute that entirely to Craig’s F1 worthy sprint down to the Greenbelt.

I was unprepared for the ride this year, hell my longest ride since last EB was 27 miles and 95% of my riding this past year has been sub-10-mile Greenbelt back trails. I've set up a calendar alert for September 1 though; "do longer rides or die in Thumper". That'll do the trick :)

Thanks again to all the organizers, my cheering family, the Angels, the guys who helped pull me and those guys who I pulled (because without you behind me I’d have gone a lot slower). See y’all next year.