After hemming and hawing, I signed up for ORAMM again. Jerm signed up for it too. Hooray! Drove up Saturday to Asheville and found Eric and Jerm sipping beer at the gnome house. A quick drive to Old Fort for pre-reg and then another quick drive to Ingles for beer and hot dogs. Eric purchased a suitcase of Busch Light. Then we started drinking beer. Jerm and Eric were amazed at how many bolts were loose on my bike. My headset was also loose. I haven't been on the thing in two weeks so cut me some slack jack! We kept drinking and then we grilled up some hot dogs. Jerm ate macaroni and cheese. Interesting choice. Jerm went to bed while Eric and I stayed up drinking more Busch Light waiting for Kel to get back from 24/Booty. I think I drifted off to sleep around 1 in the morning. Up around 6 and it was time for coffee and a bagel. I was dehydrated from the beer so I drank a few glasses of water. It tasted good, like water.
I then grabbed some crap, drove to Old Fort and got in line to race. Well no, once again, I was in the rear (whoa). Fast folk line up in front and I am not a "fast folk" so I stand in the back hoping to blend into my surroundings, like a bicycle chameleon or cheshire cat.
I rolled along and slowly sweated out the alcohol on the first climb. Hike a bike up Kitsuma and then back down it. Lots of good wrecks in front of me! One lady bit it hard but was a trooper as she sat up with a dazed smile on her face. More climbing after CP1 (Star Gap) then more descending the grassy, endless road. I rode by myself for the most part. It was weird. I caught a few people including a garrulous fellow from Greenville who used to work for Carmicheal Training. He listed off all the endurance mtb races he's done. Must've been fifty different races. I was impressed. I own 12 different Mike Watt/Firehouse tour t-shirts.
I skipped CP2 and went into the Curtis Creek climb. I stayed seated for the first 70 percent of the climb and then stood for the last part. I felt good for Curtis. Thankfully I donned my I-Pod before the climb so it was a pleasant distraction to hear Biggie, Nas, Das Efx, etc serenading me up the mountain. At CP3, I said hi to the folks, Kel and Eric then refilled my water. Ate my only two gels of the race and continued down a dirt road for a while then back up a climb. It hurt. Hurt bad. Luckily I got onto a wheel of a guy in a Dr. Gus kit. He was riding strong and pulled me up the entire climb. I think we passed 10 or 15 riders. I told him if he's ever in Columbia. I would buy him a cask of whiskey or beer. I popped a couple endurolytes at CP4 then rode up to Heartbreak. Not as scary this time with the Continental tires. They stuck like glue to everything! Seemed like Heartbreak was rootier than usual. Maybe it was just me. Rolled through CP5 and on to another climb. Chatted with a 29er Crew single speeder who looked a bit deflated. I wished him luck then motored on up to Kitsuma.
At the top of Kitsuma, I was following a local rider when I heard him make a sonorous, baritone-ish belch. Well, two seconds after I hear the gutteral utterance,he says nonchalantly, "Bear." Egads. Then over my left shulder I hear something go crashing through the woods in a bear-ish manner. My first encounter with the bear class! I got out of the saddle and cranked past my fattier, tastier looking riding partner and flew down Kitsuma to the picnic area before you could say "brutal bear mauling removes Columbia man's face and genitals" I tried my best to spin down the pavement to the finish but lost my self in thought and reflection. "Wonder if Eric is going to grill up the rest of those hot dogs tonight? Busch Light isn't that bad. Kel said her vagina was chafed last night. What did she mean by that? I wonder if Jim slept on the cardboard?" So I crossed the new and improved finish line, ditched the bike, ate some pasta and drove home. It was a most satisfying day in the woods! Many thanks to all the volunteers and well-wishers who dotted the race course. I shall post a copy of my Curtis Creek Mixtape. Comment or email me if you want it in mp3 form. Toodles!
6:54 finishing time. 6:09 for fellow Terra-Hoffen Jerm Edge. We shall do better next year!