Friday, October 19, 2012

Down and Burnt at the Bluffs

I put Burning at the Bluffs 12 hour event on my calendar about this time last year.  I have always wanted to participate in this event, but cyclo-cross always got in the way.  With cyclo-cross low on the importance scale now a days, I put the feelers out to see who was interested in forming a team.  The old team of the "Six Rocky Mountain Oysters" was brought out of retirement.  Damian Almanza, Tige Lamb and Myself teamed up and entered the Fast in the Past division.

Leading up to this past weekend my motivation level was high.  Endurance MTB racing, especially team events, as my favorite.  The only problem was recent injuries and sickness really put a damper on things.  A couple of months ago I injured my hip and it has just now healed up properly.  Things looked good the week prior until I came down with the flu.  I spent last week sick as a dog and stayed home eating chicken noodle soup.  

It is a long drive down to the venue at Council Bluffs.  We got to the venue with about an hour to spare for a quick recon of the course.  Tige and Damian set off to do a complete lap.  Due to my fatigue I only did a light ride to get the blood flowing in the legs.  When I returned from my little hour ride Damian was already back.  He elected to turn around and head back and save it for tomorrow.  This would turn out to bit us.   After Tige returned we cleaned up and headed to our hotel - The Shepherd Mountain Inn located in Ironton, MO which is also home of the world famous Baylee Jo's restaurant.  Ironton is a nice little town, one in which you do not even need to lock your doors.  In fact, you can just leave the key in the lock as we did....

Race morning greeted us with great mountain bike riding weather.   Good thing because it was going to be a long, long day.  It was good to see old friends.  One thing about mountain bike racing is it is more about having a good time than anything else.  The kind of that attitude is 12 hour winner Dwayne Goscinski.  I remember the first time I meet Dwayne.  He was covered in mud (from the first BB36) and totally exhausted but he was smiling and having a great time.  Our division was tough and our main competition was the team of Mike Best (Bone Bender 3 hour winner), Andy Hunsaker and Doug Davis.  If we all rode as we should it was going to be a great race.

Tige got things going with the run and first lap. He lead for the first several miles until he let Mike Best by.  In hind site he should have stayed out front as he ended up crashing head over in the rock garden section due to a bad line.  Even with the crash he can in with 1 1/2 minutes of Mike.  We were sitting in second and in a good position. 

Damian was up next.  He said he felt good and I was confident that he could catch up or at least stay with Andy.  Fast forward 1hour 5 min.  I expect Damian to be coming in any second.  I got a good warm up in and I was ready to try my best and at least keep us in the hunt.  I  knew with being sick I was not going to light the world on fire, but I was going to give one hell of a try. 

Five minutes later and no Damian.  And no Andy either.  The Wicked fast team of Bob Arnold's was the first in.  They would end up being the overall winners of the day with 11 laps in 12:19.  Soon riders started coming on dozens at a time, but still no Damian.  1:21 later Damian roles in exhausted from his 15+ mile lap.   Only problem is the course was only 13 miles.  Turns out a wrong turn caused Damian to go off course.  I was bummed, but that is part of racing.  I headed out on my lap trying to make up for lost time.  I put down a fast first 1/2 lap, but was totally dead by the 8 mile lap.  I suffered badly over the next 5 miles and lost time with some serious cramps.  This would end up being my undoing.  

Tige was up next and put in another great lap.  We still had a chance if both Damian and I put in stronger 2nd and 3rd laps.  12 hour is a long time and a lot can happen to teams.  Flat tires, cramps, crashes, lost trail?  Only problem is nothing did.  The Slow Old CurMUDgeons kept their lead the entire race and took the win.  We ended up 2nd with 10 laps in 12:38.  Tige got in 4 Laps and Damian and I got in 3 laps.  For our efforts and for staying around for 2 hours for the awards we got a bag of coffee.  Not what any off us really wanted.  We wanted a darn belt buckle.  We headed home full of coffee beans.  The ride back was less than pleasurable for me.  My stomach went sour with all the curvy roads.  I got sick as a dog and had to stop several times to try and vomit.  Only problem was there was not much in there.  We ended up getting to St. Clair and our hotel about 1:30 a.m. in the morning. 

My first Burning at the Bluffs was one that I want to forget, but I will not.  Not until I earn one of those damn buckles...

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