Wow, where do I start...... I guess the beginning of Friday. I opened the shop Friday morning hoping to see a BMC box there but I didn't. Angie's frame still has not arrived. I kept things going till B showed up from the Doc's office then I had to scat. I will admit I was really nervous about driving down to Conyers, Ga. (ATL) with a bunch of 20 yr olds to my first collegiate race of the year. I know most of the guys on the team so that made it somewhat easier. I was the last to arrive, they had the trailer ready to go. We threw my stuff inside locked the door and we were off. 11 guys in a 15 passenger (yea right) Ford E350 pulling a 20ft enclosed trailer with ETSU Cycling all over the side. We had to make a detour through Chattanooga to pick up Skylar that added about 1.5 hrs to our trip. As soon as we got onto I-81 south what did we see? Some guy standing with his road bike and his thumb out! We hit the shoulder faster than a Nascar driver making a pit stop. He walked up and we asked what he needed.......a ride to Memphis! Well we are going to ATL via Chattanooga? Sure he says. We load his gear and off we go. Seems he lives in Philadelphia, Pa. and is pedaling his way to his college in Memphis for fall semester....WOW! We arrive in choo-choo to get Skylar, we drop him off and pick up Skylar. We have 12 in da van! PACKED!Our hitchiking biker at dropoff in choo choo Friday
We arrived in Conyers about 10pm and our first objective was to find lodging. Since the team is self funded and gets NO MONETARY help from ETSU other than the van and gas. We pay for everything. So when a bunch of college kids and one dis-located worker need someplace to sleep. The cheaper the better. Thomas (aka Sally) had researched somewhat on hotels (cheap ones) and found some American Lodge and Suite thing. It was about 3 steps BELOW a motel 6, seriously. We crammed 12 dudes into the space of a kitchen....REALLY! One guy even slept on the dresser! I'm not making this up!
Saturday morning and it's nice out, we arrive at the site of the Georgia Tech's Olympic MTB race park of 1996, it's not too humid...yet. We suit up and head out to pre ride the TT course. da da de de dum dum. We ride about 5 miles of the XC course not knowing that the TT is across the road in the granite fields. We all find out about 15 minutes before the TT start that it's across the road. We venture over there and I can't believe it. It looks just like Moab...seriously!!! Our start was bout .4 tenths of a mile straight up a 'rock mountain'. They start everyone just like a TT. One minute intervals. I finally get my nod and I'm off, this sucks straight from the get go, seriously. Bumpy eroded, pot holed granite, roots growing from it everywhere, ugh! It's about 1.5 miles of this following a painted yellow line, just like slickrock! It then dumps us into some really sweet Ga singletrack. I catch my rabbit about 2/3rds the way through the 3mile course. I see my next rabbit just before the finish but was unable to reel him in. I think I finished 4 but not sure yet.
Next on the card? SHORT TRACK! I have been practicing this event all summer thankfully. My plan is to start easy and build. It's a course like ours in a field but with about .2 tenths a mile of wooded short track. 20 min plus two is our serving of pain today. We start and I lay back, set in for one lap and then drop my hammer ( I don't have a big hammer but it sounds good) Each time coming out of the ST into the field I pick-off 2-3 riders every lap. I'm moving up good. Little did I know the 2 guys out front in the B class are like our local hero WES, they are flying! About 15minutes in I get caught and pulled. I was still catching riders although at my bonk level. Not sure where I placed here.
I'm mostly worn out for the day now but Thomas signed me up for all 4 events. I have Slalom left to do. Seriously, I was scared to see the course. I was busy all morning racing and had not even practiced this yet. I did not know what I was in store for. I arrive about a mile deep into the woods to the newly made course. It was sweet! I was impressed and was now getting eager to give this a shot! Immediately I go to the top and make a run on my epic with the seat all the way down. I was like a monkey on a football, terrible. Oh well, just get through this the best I can and don't embarrass myself. Qualifying time came, I made it up got the countdown and was off, for some reason my BMX thrills and skills came right to me and it felt real comfy. I finished the short DS course with a 22:30, I even beat some A riders, I was extremely happy, WOW! I now wait for the seed. I seeded 4th in the B class and got a first round bye, nice. The A class had a bunch of kids but our team had all the top spots covered. ETSU jerseys were about 8 deep in the final brackets in A class, good job guys! My round is called up and I beat my guy hands down, man that was fun I think to myself. I get to my next bracket, I beat him on the snap and take it to the line.....woooohooo I'm stoked. Wow I'm thinking that I may actually have a chance here. I get to the semi's. I beat the dude on the first run and barely get him on the second to advance to the final for 1st/2nd. In the finals dude gets me by a .339 gap. I'm just thinking "I'm happy with second I could have crashed my brains out for all I would have known in this stuff". We get up for our second run and switch lanes. I get him out of the gate and all I have to do is beat him by .340 seconds for the win. I hold the lead all the way to the flat turn where I skid and lose momentum, he catches me but I still beat him across the line by .160 seconds........not enough! I'm giggling like a school girl inside though, totally pleased with how I did....wooohooooo!
We load up after all the hoopla and get some food. By this time I have been nicknamed "coach" all the other teams coaches are coming up to me and introducing themselves to greet me and welcome me to the season. "What have I got myself into?" We team up with 3 FSU students and get a different hotel. A big ole La Quinta - Suite Style! Hot tub, pool and the works! Tonight we pack 15 in one room! Craziness total craziness, but it was fun it truly was. I think we may have got to bed at 1am? Not sure but I know I can't hang but I did my best. Up @ 630 conti breakfast and over to the track for 2 laps of who knows what on the 8 mile XC course. The A's leave first then 5 minutes we B's get the nod. We don't tear out like the A's but it was a very good pace. About 1.5 miles of flat grass service road. My legs just wont go! I fall off and think I'm not making this one at all. I struggle throughout the whole first lap of the Olympic race course. Every climb my legs feel like they are at LT burning like hell and feel as heavy as two concrete stumps. It starts to get humid and about thirty minutes in Jamie Dinkins blows past me and I keep up for about half a mile until we hit a climb and she just rockets away from me. Why did I put her in here? Well her little brother Zach is on our team! She rides for Georgia and is amazingly fast! I heard that she's Brent Bookwalter's GF also....not sure about that. Zach rips the gravity up for ETSU. Anywhoooo, I make it through my first lap to get a feed bottle. I wanted to quit but I didn't. I holstered my bottle and put my head down. I'm heading down the grass road for the last time and all of a sudden my legs show up, woohoo where you guys been all freaking morning? The more I push myself, my legs respond with some power output, dangit! So I lay some more down, My breathing picks up but I'm still going, well alrighty now. I see if I can start to salvage anything and keep pedaling for all I'm worth. I found one rabbit then another and another. Then one of the A women catch me, dangit. I trail her for a good while and we catch two more. She drops me on a long climb in the sun, I never see her til the finish. I managed a 1:31:32 for the 16 miles. 10 minutes behind the rest of my B team members, sorry I let you all down. I finished and was profusely sweating in the Ga heat. I was beat, beat down I say. I hope I can keep up with these kids all season!
All in all I truly enjoyed this weekend. The team could use some more structure but they got a good thing here. I just wished the college recognized them better than they do. Next race is this weekend right here in my backyard....literally! .2 tenths a mile away!! Hope this helps my cross season....