Tahr had a great idea; Let's race the Barn Burner Marathon in the Cape Epic style duo class, and lets do it under assumed names!
Great! What a fun idea.
Then Henri hit.
The promoters were forced to postpone the race a couple of weeks. Now Tahr has this silly policy that when his wife isn't working he wants to spend time with her and will not race. Weirdo (says the divorced guy).
So what about Alpaca? Two distinguished gentlemen going for marathon glory on Ti singlespeeds!
Alpaca was in, he was psyched, he was going to race his mountain bike!
He remembered it was Labor Day weekend.
Alpaca was out.
Fine, I'll just do it by myself.
Race day comes as do all the rituals. On the eve, bike prep. bottle and food staging and packing. race bag packing with clothes, extra clothes shoes, extra shoes, double check the car for duplicates of everything possible. Morning of, standard race day breakfast, coffee, car food and go.
It's a grey day. Not really raining, but damp. Compared to past editions the parking field is sparse. Sparse and soggy.
As I'm getting my feed prepared a familiar voice comes over the PA. It's Logan! And where there's Chris there's Jill; New England MTB royalty.
Quick hello, then the obligatory warm up spin. Being a Marathon, basically just waking up the legs.
Line up in one big pack; men, women, duos and after some race notes, important stuff about not cheating or something, we are told to go.
Maybe a whistle, a signal, wave, command, something, and we are pedalling hard.
There is a LONNNG LONNG flat gravel stretch before the singletrack. Reverse hoeshot is in full effect. First clusterfuck of a rock garden (Goggle says I spelled clusterfuck correctly), lead riders are through cleanly but the inevitable happens and everyone else is off their bikes.
Then some dumdum is being a nice guy and lets riders who mounted up quicker go before he mounts up again.
Latch on to the back of the group and look at my dorkometer. My HR is right where it should be so staying at the back of the conga line should be fine, right? There's 3.5 more 7.something mile laps to go, just stay in the zone...
Then the egometer kicks in and says go faster. Pass a half dozen people on the twisties of the back side of the course and cross the powerlines.
The last part of the lap is the most fun. Still rooty, but more rocky, less loamy and fast;there are two wide open straightaways equal to the opening one.
Coming out of the woods onto the last straight, I look at my time; 51 minutes?!
For 7.something miles? It's going to be a long day.
My feed zone plan was simple: just stop and grab a new bottle each lap.
Only problem is the grassy field the feedzone was in is a soggy wet field, so losing all momentum, each lap is less than ideal.
The first third of the course has four short steep little hills. With momentum, they are tough but doable. On lap two they are littered with the CAT2 racers either spinning out, or "eagling" up them. Mr Cranky Pants is not happy and has to run them all.
The course is loamy, and intermittent rain has begun making the roots slippery.
I'm not having fun. The darkness is enveloping me. I keep telling myself the whole week was planned around today, and what are you going to do if you don't ride the whole thing? You need the intensity, you need the training.
Finish the lap, get the feed zone and hear "Go Charlie"; Jill and Chris are rooting for me.
Joke to them as I go through the Start/Finish "don't runners get a half marathon", and head out for lap 3.
Thinking about half marathons, I look at my mileage, it's over 19 miles? What the? Maybe I'm not as slow as I think I am?
Get to the four climbs and make 2 out 4 without traffic. Getting a groove with the roots and keeping consistent.
The forth and final lap, more of the same.
Finished somewhere in the middle, and I'm ok with that...
because I finished