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Mar 13 / doug

Echo to Red Recap

The morning rolled over and smacked me, get up! I downed two cups of coffee and the usual eggs, toast and sausage. With the car packed and bags checked we (my lady and I) set out on an road trip. Ok, that’s what I called it but it was a reason for me to race my bike and for us to do something different. We’ll except that carting my ass to races isn’t all that different from any other weekend but it felt different.

For one the sun was out. Oh sweet goodness the sun was out! We headed up the gorge about 3hrs into the wind toward Pendleton and stopped when we hit Echo. There were windmills barely turning in a sea of grass and land gently tilted by the years of geologic uprising.

When we pulled into Echo there was scarcely a hill. There was a train, however, delaying our entry into the little town.

The town itself was small and beautiful. The center square was a four way stop that could conjure memories of Leadville had I ever done that race.

I opened my door and introduced Mos Def to the air. He flowed smoothly over the breeze before I interrupted him to ask where my jersey might be. He didn’t reply.

Sign up took place in a small home near the start. The lines were efficient and the only hold up was at the bathroom. Typical.

Are you tired of hearing all this? Let skip to the race. I mean you get it, it was sunny and everyone was happy. The vibe was different. Less competitive and friendly. There were hairy legs! and a lack of shoe covers. It could have been an alley cat race because everyone had on back packs. I thought maybe I’m out of place? I mean all I know was that there was going to be a lot of single track and winning times were around 2hrs for 28miles.

So I pumped up my tires and put on a long sleeve to warm up in. It was chilly but nice. I contemplated long sleeve or short and opted for short sleeve thinking, it’s going to hit 60 today. It actually hit 70 and I was glad.

Ok, so the race starts with a neutral roll out for 3k and I was behind just about everyone. Single speeders pedaled fast and the gears slid up toward the truck. As soon as we hit the turn off the truck pulled aside and we were doing 30 mph on nice gravel. The smooth small rock kind. It was up a hill and down the backside in a mad rush for the first bit of single track. A little way of the hill someone jerked to the right and took everyone out behind. That set the lead group at about 20-30 guys.

We hit the single track and line danced our way through some switch backs, one of which was guarded by John Wayne. That’s right, John Wayne was holding two pistols in your face as you negotiated a set of turns. Ok, it was a cardboard cutout but Ol’ John would stick you up every so often. Him and a wolf had contracted to position them selves around the course.

Mentally you would get these breaks, (john and wolf) as you went around the various turns. The course was dry and bumpy. It became apparent that I had put to much air in my tires. I was leading a 4 man chase though and didn’t want to risk a pinch or take the time to let air out. So I drummed on.

Another thing I noticed is that my arms hurt. They were flapping in the wind like granny bags eager to gobble up my bones. I should have worn arm warmers I thought. The other thing I noticed is that mountain biking brings out a deeper sweat. It’s a much saltier, smellier sweat. Perhaps it’s the sausage or the earlier nights beer. The barley, malt and yeast coming together to give me a post liver taste test. Yum.

There was a break as we hit a section of open road and the 4 guys I was pacing jumped. I couldn’t hang so I decide to have one of my 3 flavors of Gu (a mixed assortment of bottom of the gym bag leftovers from the cross season). If you interested I had one fresh Gu (just plain), a 2 year old Clif Shot (chocolate Powder) and a freebie swiped of the reg table (hammer gel, chocomouthjuiceneedmorewaterlegshurt flavor). So I ate those and got back up to the 4 droppers. I sat on for a little bit and tried to recover before jumping on a wheel that broke off before going into a very sweet section of single track.

This was the section where the trail is that perfect color of brown. Kinda like coffee is and next to it, perhaps hugging the dirt was green grass about 7 inches tall. Just enough to graze your pedals as you jig-sawed your way through the woods. A few log hops later and I was on the assailants wheel and chasing him over a log bridge. The log was sawed flat on top and made you wonder if you could ride it. I would have liked to try but really……I’m just getting back into this.

I caught the guy up the trail and we pressed on, catching others and high five’ing John Wayne. His wolf just stared. Over a two way bridge (over and under) and into the final bit of single track. The downhills were never straight only big curves awaited. Did I mention I dumped a bunch of mineral oil on my disc brakes the night before? Not so PRO. If you want to make sure people know where you are at all times… throw some break fluid on your calipers and squeeze real hard. You’ll squeal a lot, but won’t stop or even slow down.

Get on with it! Ok, so we do a bunch of rad ass downhilling and then come to another gravel section. This is the final section of gravel. About 3k til you hit the road and another k on paved road coming into town. Naturally I climb conservatively and don’t get to worried about the fact that my friend has steadily road himself into a lead of about 100 meters.

So the chase begins. I see him catch another guy and they work a bit and I try a little harder. I’m catching pack fodder from the shorter loop (the cat 2’s and below did 21 instead of 28 miles) and look down. My computer is reading 30 mph and yet I’m not catching these two.

I pour some more on, laying it on thick as my legs ping and pop with the tingly sensation that occurs after turning yourself inside out for a 2hr TT. I get onto the road and can now see the town. I hammer a little harder and rock the bike side to side. I’m tucked and my knees are coming close to my chest. Hands near the center of the bar and I’m maxed out for gear. I catch another guy. Not good enough. Heads down and I come out of a trance to hear my breath, ahhh whooo ahhhh whooo and…. and… and, I don’t catch them.

I came in 6th.

I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I felt good about how I did. My mind was clear and I did what I could to keep myself going.

Afterward there were free burritos. Nice! But only for racers so we had to go and get food. The problem was that every place in Echo was swamped and had so graciously made free food for the races. However, there were so many racers that non-racers couldn’t get served. So my lady and I hit the truck stop McDonald’s for Fries, Coffee’s and Chicken Sandwiches. I couldn’t stop raving about how good it was. The race that is. The food arrested my bowels and punched me in the gut for the whole ride home. I didn’t go to the bathroom for 2 days afterward.

Should I stop there and leave you with that though? Yes.

One Comment

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  1. eric / Mar 14 2010

    Now that’s how you blog!

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