On a whim, I decided to do the second leg of the State Championships in Spartanburg at the Twelth Annual Stump Jump. It was Mother's Day weekend and I knew I needed to honor my mother according to the Bible: Honor thy mother through athleticness and thou shalt getteth awesome all night long. (Levitcus 14:92)
(Pre-race cleanliness) No ride time all week meant fresh legs but less than stellar fitness. Torrential rain all week meant the trails would be muddy and a warm front would make the humidity unbearable. These were the things that should've weighed on my mind, but they didn't as I have been watching the "Venture Brothers" on DVD all week so the usual pre-race jitters were replaced with obsessive thoughts about an animated duo of clone-brothers, a psychotic bodyguard and their neurotic father. Anyway, I spent the night at my folks' crib and woke up Saturday morning refreshed and a little gassy. I met Josh and Kelly at Southside Trail, warmed up for about 45 seconds, waved hello to my Dad and younger-older sister and got in line to race. Somehow I got muscled off the front row and started on the second row. Oh well. The start went exactly as expected: I was dropped by the main field on the swoopy grass. I railed down the powerlines and entered the singletrack caboose style. The rain seemed like it had left the trail in tact, but as soon as we neared the floodplain and creek, all bets were off. Drifting, sliding and the occasional dab were in store. Luckily, the two creek crossings helped wash off the clay and mud accumulation. By the end of the first lap, I had passed some folk and was feeling pretty good. I saw a squirrel eating some sort of nut next to the trail. I rang my bell at him (which I would break after I wrecked on the second lap) and wished him well. He gave me the squirrel finger. A few miles later, I spied Brad (Low Country Velo) after the start/finish line and thought I could catch him. I slowly started to reel him in when he happened to see me and took off on the flat, muddy stretch by the creek. Fudgeicles! That would be the last I see of Brad until the finish. A little disheartened if not borderline disinterested, I pedaled on passing another rider and enjoying the sound of my lungs filling up with mucous as thoughts of bean burritos and mixtapes filled my head. All that peacefulness and serenity lulled my senses as I wrecked pretty hard on the wettest and most treahcerous of the downhills, landing on some roots, whacking my shin on the Kona and tweaking the groinal area. Guh! I picked myself up after an obscenity-laced inner monologue and mashed on towards the Fern Gully connector. I heard an incessant dinging and lo and behold, there were Joshie and Kelly trailside, shouting words of encouragement and taking photos. I had uttered something about the trail being a "fucking nightmare" on lap one but this time around, I kept my silly thoughts to myself although I did bust out a particularly rancid fart about ten yards past them. They probably didn't notice as a horse had taken a dump near the trail earlier that morning. The rest of the race was uneventful. Roots, some mud, some lovely singletrack, no I-Pod. I eventually crossed the finish line with mud in my ears, creek water in my mouth, potential horse feces in my eyes but with a smile on my face, in addition to the feces. Brad came over and we chatted about the mud, etc. He told me he got second so it looked like I had another third place coming my way (and second overall for the State Championship). I wondered if Brad could smell the horse shit too, or if it was just me? I kept this thought to myself. By the way, a podium ceremony, no matter how small and craptacular it is, can be a very awkward occasion. Please consult Rich Dillen's blog for further misadventures on the podium. This was my second XC race of 2009 and could be my last. They're a lot of fun, but with the steep entry, they're just not worth it. But yeah, I'll be doing more XC with Herb in Charlotte this summer.
Hey Brandon, you're not the only one with gratuitous groin shots. Behold!
My jersey is short and my camos ride low.
Here we are in the woods watching the pro race. Joshie wouldn't stop ringing the cowbell.
Kelly was worried about getting a sunburn so she ran a mile back to the car. This shot was taken from about 300 yards away. And yes, she got burned.