Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Plunge

The Plunge was greasy but totally rideable this year. There were some stepdown waterbars but it was basically set it up, point the bars down, get off the back and let it rip! It was so much fun! Graham railing it on his 29er single speed drop bar bike!-By Double Hop

My main goal at this years 24 Hours of Great Glen was to not be the Plunge's bitch. I am not even kidding. It was all I could think about leading up to the race. Two years ago when I did this as my first race on Hup United I got owned by the course and the Plunge was like the schoolyard Bully who just kept beating me even after I gave him my lunch money.
Its still my humble opinion to this day that my place on Team Hupcake Express was an elaborate hazing concocted by my now best friends and teammates to see if I was Hup material. They must have been laughing their collective asses off. Welcome to East Coast Mtn bike racing Norcal boy!

And it was a beat down. My first lap I endo'd into a 2 ft mud bog that nearly drowned me. I still have that picture up on my Facebook profile page. Suffice it to say I suffered a lot and that was on a 5-person team with zero ambition of our eventual placing. I had the best time ever and was hooked on mtn biking after that. But my one shame was that I had to walk the Plunge every single lap. It freaked me out. Not this year man. No way.

Greg Whitney showing how you do it! Yeah that's how I did it I swear....another great shot by Double Hop

The course was so dry this year. The complete opposite of two years ago. But that didn't make it easier. In fact it made it arguably way harder. Because now it was a race not just survival. It was 100% rideable and fast as hell. Graham pictured above (by Double Hop) took the first lap run and rocked it. Graham proved an invaluable wingman on so many levels. First he helped me navigate the Pedro's Love Van up to Great Glen. No easy task for a man who has never driven a diesel anything in my life. A nice life lesson about trucks. They can't always see you and trucks aren't that easy to drive or stop. So yeah I won't be cutting in front of any trucks or vans anymore. Respect to all you UPS and Fedex drivers out there. That can not be an easy gig...

Ok but back to my Viking friend. We got up to the venue late. I wanted to drink beers after being on the road for what seemed like all day. Graham was having none of that. He was kitted up and telling me to get my ass on my bike so we could do a pre-ride. Once we started pedaling it was so worth it. It was a beautiful night and the trails were empty. We railed over half of the course just checking everything out when my lights started to dim a bit...Oh shit. Gone. Did I mention I found out the day before the race my Light & Motion batteries had been recalled in 2006. FML. So now we are on the side of Mt Washington with only one light. Graham was a trooper about it but anytime he got more than 10 feet away from me it was pitch black. Suffice it to say I walked the Plunge that night.
Zank dialing in my Seven!-Photo by Kerry

So we survive being eaten by bears or falling off a cliff and get back to camp. I am slightly freaking out but figured I could borrow lights and be set. Little did I know how well supported this race was. God I love 24 hr racing. These people have back up plans on top of back up plans. The Nightrider trailer was there so I popped my head in to discuss my options. The tech laughed when I told him my dilemma. No problem he said I can rent you lights. Awesome. For $40 bucks I got a great set of lights for the weekend. They did prove to be the gateway drug though. After one night lap where I could actually see I got greedy. I wanted more lumens! So I went back to the Nightrider guy and worked something out. I bought a sweet set of lights for $200 and he let me keep the other set for the night. So I went from no lights to two sets of kick ass lights in a blink of an eye. Thank you Nightrider! I am now a lifelong fan. And two sets are the way to go...seriously I don't know how you can race with only a headlamp. And racing with only barmount lights would be horrible.
I'm not looking so fresh right there....I felt good but the pictures they don't lie-Photo by Kerry

Sleep is sooo key in 24 hr racing...great shot by Kerry of the aftermath

Okay back to this shit show of a blog post. Trust me I am still a Zombie. But Colin has posted and Kevin appears to be passed out over his laptop so I am being guilted into getting this up no matter how crappy it may be. Basically its PGGS. Yeah Post Great Glen Syndrome. The monday after the race I was at the bagel shop with my daughter. She asked for chocolate milk. I grabbed a bottle of milk off the shelf. The label was in Chinese. I am not joking. I thought to myself great now they are importing Hood milk from China what is next? It wasn't in Chinese...My brain was and is fried!

We had a great team. We were in the 4 man expert group. We had Graham, Mike Z, Ron and me. Kerry Combs who is without a doubt the best friend evah drove up on saturday and was the best pit boss you could ever want. She kept us racing when were toast, she brought us Chipotle burritos for dinner and she brought me from the dead Sunday morning to uncork my fastest lap of my whole race. She is a miracle worker! The best part of 24 hr racing is really the camping out, seeing friends, making new friends, getting dirty and disgusting and having the best time imaginable.

We all rode way out of our heads and fought off a much younger team for 4th place. We are already all in for next year. We need to make this one big Hup United camp out. Seriously.

There were so many highlights of the weekend. A big crew from the MAC came up and I got to meet Fatmarc! He is such a cool guy. He flew by me on one of my night laps! He is a 24 hr ninja man! The other highlight was riding with Rob Bauer at like 3 in the morning! It was crazy. Kudos to all the solo riders. Nuts. That is all I have to say about that. Lots of them were Zombies but some rode fast and strong tape to tape. My good friend Derek Griggs killed it! 20 laps in 24 hrs and he was still upright and talking after. Last bit and still a total mystery to me. I'd say 80% of my friends rode singlespeeds. I cannot get my head around that. How do you do it? Seriously. And they are consistent. Ron Steers busted out 42-45 minute laps every time. All 8....crazy. Kudos to all y'all! We'll be back next year for sure! Oh yeah. And I was not the Plunges bitch! Rode that thing like an actual mtn biker! Sure I crashed into the same tree at night 3 laps in a row and am covered in cuts and bruises...but mission accomplished!