Sunday, November 4, 2012

Enchilada Buffet 2012 - review

The Enchilada Buffet (EB) is an Austin grassroots ride that links together 5 of Austin's best mountain bike trails. It's not a race per se', but there are awards for fastest man and woman, slowest man and woman, and oldest finisher. I rode it this year on my Giant Anthem X, which wouldn't have happened without Steve at Texas Cycle Werks. I had worn out some parts on my rear shock and replacement parts wouldn't have been available by the EB so, on Thursday, Steve GAVE ME THE SHOCK OFF HIS PERSONAL BIKE. That, my friends, has got to be some of the best bike service in the state.
This year started off with 113 riders at Walnut Creek park. We headed out at 6:40 and took some gravel roads through WC to get to more bike friendly streets. We hit the Greenbelt around 8 am in a hilariously dangerous but very friendly drop down some limestone 'steps' from the Zilker parking lot - about 50 guys dropping into a narrow stair of natural un-cut limestone after riding for an hour with their shocks locked out. It was a new experience descending alongside that many guys, everyone being jovial and cool while trying to reach their shock lockout w/o endo'ing. It's a testament to how many actual mountain bikers were on the ride that, at least in my pack, nobody fell or got cross-ways.
I was out in front at this point, probably top 10 but I had to stop and relieve myself. At least 30 guys passed me which was a bit demoralizing but couldn't be helped. I spent the next hour or so gently working around all those people - it's a friendly ride so bellowing out ON YOUR RIGHT is a douche move. The corollary being not moving over when somebody is on your tail is also a douche move. Truthfully, everyone being friendly made the ride a much smoother and less frustrating experience than during an official race when calling out is expected but moving over doesn't always happen.
The EB passed right by my home and my wife and daughter were waiting at Pumphouse to cheer me on; I was grinning like an idiot for miles after seeing my kid with that "Go Daddy Go" sign. The Barton Creek Greenbelt is my home trail so I know the route really well. I picked up a few guys and drug them around for a bit, but they'd get dropped in the technical sections because they didn't know the lines. I actually got a personal record on the Western Fence section and passed a bunch of riders. I was feeling pretty good about my chances of catching up to the chase group until I hit the road.
On the bridge over bee caves I hit some glass or something and slashed my rear tire right down the center. I rode it for about a mile as it leaked hoping the sealant would do it's job. Unfortunately I had to stop and put in some air. My legs were feeling a bit fatigued and it was touchy bending over to use my hand pump. I was a bit worried about the fatigue I was showing after only ~30 miles, but those worries were unfounded. That was actually the most tired my legs would feel for the rest of the ride. The bit of air I pumped in on 360 held until just before the fire station, then I stopped at the fire station and put in another 2 oz of sealant hoping that would seal. It didn't. I was stopped on the side of the road putting in a tube about a mile later when the leaders (DeBoisinblac, Winkleman, Barkley, Uhl and about 4 other guys I don't know) passed by me after already having finished the City Park trail.
I rode a lot of City Park with 3 guys, which was nice after riding most of the EB solo. Got a PR on the City Park loop, so I was feeling pretty good at that point. I did see several guys cutting the course, I'm certain it was an honest mistake. They weren't from Austin and they were all stopped, looking around, lost. I called out to them to follow me but since I wasn't sure they were cutting (they could have just finished the section in question) and it's not a race I just let it slide. I've also been looking through some of the rider maps on Strava and it seems like several people missed that little bit, it ends with what I think people call the "Triple Bitch" or cheese something (?). Oh well, it's not more than a mile, although it starts and ends gnarly the middle bit is cake.
After City Park, the next challenge is Jester, I rode it and felt pretty good. Then down Beauford (yikes!), out to 360 and up Spicewood Springs. This is when I picked up my 2nd flat. A staple of some sort had punctured the tube and I was getting pretty fed up with the road. As my tire flatted yet again, I was passing Cody (one of the founders) and I started cussing a blue streak (sorry for that, lost my religion). I was on my last straw, and was trying to finding the puncture but I couldn't find it, even with the tube blown up to the size of a hula hoop.  I was about to crawl off into the bushes to take a nap when the guys I rode CP with caught up to me and asked if I was O.K. I asked if they had a spare tube and the guy from Dallas (Charles?) turns around and gives me his 2nd tube! I was so happy I could have kissed him.
Next up was St. Edwards, which is basically a hill and a series of rocky drops back down. Part of the trail follows right along the edge of a cliff and has a few bits with out-sloped roots just begging to toss you down the 100 ft drop. I saw 6-8 riders doing this trail backwards which is a pretty nasty 'long-cut' since riding up St. Eds backwards is considerably worse IMHO.
Yaupon was next, it's kind of a little slap in the face before Thumper. Normally, I really like Thumper, it's a challenging trail and will hone your handling skills, but after 60 miles it just feels abusive. I was feeling pretty good at this point, (with all the stopping and fixing flats, lol), so I grabbed some water from Cindy (THANKS!!!), got some info about how badly I was being beaten by the leaders (very badly), and dropped into Thumper. My triceps immediately cramped up but that subsided pretty quickly. After about 15 minutes of Thumper it started to rain on me. It was actually very relieving, the rain and the cool breezes it brought. The trail stayed pretty tacky for the next 30 minutes  but the final 15 minutes of Thumper were pretty dangerous. I slid out on a few of the bigger rocks and I was really glad to be getting out when I did. I ended up turning my 2nd best Thumper time (59:13) and a PR for the first half (37:35). I'd like to note that Nathan Winkleman KOM'd Thumper with 42:56 and he finished that lap almost an hour before I started mine. Uhl and Barkley were right there with him. Monsters.
At the top I grabbed a bit more water and hammered over to Walnut. I was feeling awesome after Thumper and averaged over 14mph. Hammered out Walnut and finished in 9 hours 29 minutes (27th place), 30 minutes off my goal and 2 hours 15 minutes behind 1st place. My moving time was 8 hours 18 minutes, so without the flats I'm pretty confident I could have finished under 9.
Grabbed a beer and some Rudy's BBQ turkey. Chatted for about an hour with the finishers and cheered several more riders as they finished up before I headed home.
It was an awesome event. I'm looking forward to doing it next year, hopefully I can keep some air in my tires and finish under 9 hours. Congrats to Matt, Nathan and Tristan. Huge thanks to the founders (ya crazy bastards), organizers, volunteers and Steve at TCW.

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