Monday, June 6, 2011

Transylvania Epic, final stage: Downhill At Last*

*Downhill is a relative term. Type and duration of experience may vary.

So after a long day of being helpful and an even longer night of trying to drain the blisters on my palms and lower the swelling in my knees, I thought I would give riding the ol' tinybike another shot. It seems Im going to need a smaller bike when I get home anyway: my back is so wrecked that I have developed a hunch that would make Marty Feldman look like a cadet at West Point.

We all lined up according to Mullet Staging Rules: Business in the Front, Party at the Rear.

The Business: Top 10 Pro men/ Top 3 singlespeeders/ The One Or Two Guys That Just Wanted To Get This Race Thing Over With.

The Party: All the women - their GC was separated by margins substantial enough that barring a catastrophe, it was settled. And moving up a spot on the podium by a flat tire on the last day is completely lame. The rest of us - were just fucking tired.

I rolled out with Doug Jenne, Dave Pryor and a few other guys with legs emptied of watts and drop bags filled with beer. We puttered happily along, absorbing and depositing riders freely. The long climb didnt seem so bad - nothing is terribly hard when you are riding with guys whose only goal is to get to the checkpoint before all the beer is gone. The downhill separated us out: me and Cush, excited by the prospect of losing perceptible elevation for the first time in a week, got fast and loose (and a little stupid) on the descent.

An already-boozy Ben Cruz awaited us at the checkpoint. We hung out for awhile, waited for the womens field to roll in, then decided that 30 people (some several beers deep) all jamming up the singletrack was not an ideal way to end the week.

About 12 of us hit the trail.

The climb out of the aid station was rough - super steep, pretty loose and littered with guys that stopped giving a fuck 3 days ago. Ben and I made it to the top without walking (I, for one, had quite enough walking for a week) and just kept rolling along.

Riding with Ben was awesome. We had exactly the same philosophy about this last half of the race: Slow up the hills, and get your moneys worth on the descents.

And today, we finally had some "down time".

Im not sure why they saved some of the best descending for the last day. Maybe the relative downhill greatness was simply a matter of perspective: when you spend 7 days going up, having to get out of the saddle for something that isnt another climb feels freaking awesome.

Regardless, we were flying down some of those trails: sadly, where Ben was "killing it", I was just "slightly wounding it" - though back-wheeling some of those turns was pretty god-damn satisfying, the Tiny Bike was a bit overmatched here.

According to Ben, we broke 40 miles an hour on the singletrack next to an electric fence.

We rolled in, got interviewed and showered the last of the Pennsylvania Swamp off me.

(I look ridiculous in that interview: The sun was peeping out behind a tree behind Colt, so I was pretty much blind in one eye. I also use "belt sander" and "taint" together in a sentence.)

My back hurt like hell, but getting to ride those trails again was worth it.

Race notes:
Morgan Miller took advantage of Dickys flat tire to move up to second overall in the single speed category. Hope that felt good, dude.

Justin Lindine won the stage, and finished just off the podium for 4th overall. On a 26" hardtail.

The womens field was all class, with Local-By-Way-Of-Scotland fast girl Vicky Barclay leading them home.

You cant do a turndown with a 120mm stem. You just cant.

I cant independently verify this, but I have sources that tell me that at least 3 camelbaks were filled with beer instead of water.

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