Ah the pain, reminds us we are still alive.
The Outlaw hosted his annual event in the woods of Frederick on Sunday. The weather people called for sunny skies and temps in the mid 40's. A brief storm rolled through G-Town the night before and, fortunately, didn't didn't deposit much rain. Packing the car the next morning, the warm sun and dry ground implied a mild day and I packed accordingly. The drive up exposed one simple truth, the mountain does not conform to suburban Germantown weather patterns. Snow had fallen during the night and it got deeper as we gained altitude. Not a lot mind you, but, enough to give concern as my winter boots were safely nestled away......at home. My summer shoes and thick wool socks would have to do as we played in Mother Natures bounty.
The lot was packed and roadside parking was the only thing left. Camps and a few of the PA boys parked behind us and laughed as I explained my footwear faux pas. "It's February...and your in the mountains" or words to that effect was his response. True, but, it was nice in my driveway. Anyway, the word was out and there were at lot of people in attendance. A couple pros from the Trek team were there as well as the usual bunch of fast guys. Throw in a nice layer of fresh snow, to make things interesting, and today was going to hurt.
I didn't know how the day was going to shake out, but, I did well on the first stage (3rd) and thought I'd push it while I had the energy. Stage two up the cut-through and down Lawnmower was fun and I finished well enough for some more points. The Big Dog contested my passing him over a log, but, all's fair at the Punk Bike if you ask me. Third stage was over the rocks and up to the entrance for Rusted Bug, I got some points on that one as well. Fourth stage was the obligatory "bike swap" stage and I was lucky enough to find one with SPD's and sorta in my size. I grabbed Sweetcheeks Linsky and with the exception of being a tad tall, it rode really well. Tommy (Tomi Cog) somehow grabbed a geared bike and was unsure what to do with the multi-geared beast. The short climb before the Rusted Bug revealed the reason so many of us ride one gear as it slipped when Tommy tried to mash down on the climb. Seizing the opportunity I jumped ahead and never looked back. Home field advantage has it perks as I pulled my only stage win of the day.
Two more stages before the beer break. First one started on Knuckle Buster and went down Blue to the pond. The road climb before the trail revealed that I was loosing steam. My asthma was acting up and it was hard to fill my lungs with enough oxygen. Light headed, I pushed as hard as I could and the descent on Blue was a welcome section. I got some points, just barely. Last stage before the break and I did everything wrong. Bad starting position, not prepared for the start and poor line choice deprived me of any points for the first time that day.
RiderX and James did an amazing job with site selection this year. On top of the mountain in a secluded nook; that was the perfect place for a campfire and a keg. Peg Leg Imperial Stout was the beverage du jour provide from team sponsor Clipper City. Walsh and his lady hooked me up with some Girl Scout cookies while we waited to fill our cups. About the only thing missing was the beef jerky I left in the car. Mel's fire was a great way to warm your bones on this cold winter day. I have to wonder what was going through the gravity guys heads as they stumbled upon our little group on their way down the hill.
Dab/No Dab was the next stage after our descent off the summit. I dabbed, no points on this round. The next stage, DeLauther Rd., was a brutal climbing stage that started off with the racers going through the ford. I pushed up the hill, with soaking wet feet, and was able to pick off a few people along the way. Seconds before the finish, Tommy prematurely raises his hands for some stage points as I swooped in and snatched them from the Outlaw. Always the good sport, he laughs it off as I apologize for the maneuver.
The lungs are now burning and I'm very light-headed at the conclusion of each stage. Stephen and I line up near the front and he takes off like a shot from the start. I'm in pursuit, but, I wouldn't call it a hot one. Before a short climb, I bounce off a rock and two or three guys pass me on the short climb. Back on I chase, but, can't make up the gap. I get a couple points, however, I'm cooked. The final stage was a short one and I made no effort to line up near the front. Therefore, I had a lot of traffic to move through. After the stream crossing, I get some encouragement from Spearman and tap into some reserve I thought was spent. A couple hard kicks later, I moved up three spots and ended with some points. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't lay down on that last stage. "Leave it all out on the course" is the saying and my dry, hacking, uncontrollable coughs are a testament I did just that.
A long slow grind up Blue got us back to the cars and the points tally. I ended up with a respectable 59 points and was happy to be done. Jeff and Anna were to be the overall leaders for the day and crowned the 2009 Single Speed Outlaw Punk Bike Enduro King and Queen. I heard Jeff had accumulated 140+ points on the day. Insane! I'd love to see a breakdown of all the points leaders. Hopefully RiderX will provide that information. Win or lose, it was an incredible day and one I really look forward to. Good times with a bunch of friends in the woods. Just doesn't get any better than this!
Additional Photos from DKEG & RiderX