Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hired Gun

Back in the wild wild west townsfolk in need often times sought out the help of hired guns to help fight evil bandits such as El Whapo.

One of my goals this year has been to ride harder in training. One of the best ways to do that is on group rides. I've haven't had the guts to go on the Collegiate road rides yet, but I did set up a ride with an hired gun from Salem, VA.

Todd Reighley came up today for a ride. John met us there and just by chance CP and friend, Anya rolled up too. Anya had the coolest old school Breezer hardtail. With these like 1.0 Conti tires on it. Can you say sketch?

We went up the horse annex trail to the top. A rude awakening right out of the gate then down Sidewinder and across the basin. CP rode down the tight switchback faster than I have ever seen anyone. This thing is full of roots cutting right across it.

Big ring hammerfest on the Basin trail. The only reason we kept Todd in sight was the lack of local knowledge of some of the turns. That and the fact that he had these low tread tires that couldn't be leaned more than a few degrees.

John, CP, and Anya headed back at the big rock/fire road and Todd and I took the gap trails back to the basin. It was funny watching Todd ride the bottom of Royale (with cheese) His tires couldn't support any lean. The trail has some real sharp turns, almost switch backs, with no camber. He rode right off the trail once. Amazing skill to be able to control those tires at all.

We headed back up the Horse trail to the top again. I was breathing hard at the red line limit. Several times I'd just gasp for air like a seal getting mauled by a polar bear. Trying to take a drink or gel would induce a huge gasp for air.

I actually don't know what a seal sounds like when getting mauled by a polar bear but I imagine it sounded like me on this ride. Todd suggested I work on some breathing techniques.

It was interesting to observe how often Todd stood up on the climbs. I still can't figure out standing up. My legs immediately burn up and the fork bob feels like I'm going backwards.

Back across the rollers on the fire road. They add an extra one every time I go across it. Then down Beast.

Todd was flying. He has a scandium hardtail, 80mm fork, and little local knowledge of the trail. Not to mention his sketchy tires and that he was probably holding back. I have 3.75" of rear travel, 100mm front travel, and ride this trail several times a month. I even visualize this downhill before going to sleep every night.

But the really important thing is I got to tell my kids I hung on a downhill with a semi pro. I'll take that to the bank.

Now it was time to put the nails in my coffin. We went back up sidewinder. I could feel the twinges of the leg cramps coming on. Which is actually a good thing, because it means that I was riding hard. Harder than I can usually get myself to go when alone. In training the self preservation complex always keeps me from cramping, but in races that gets short circuited and I can override my fitness to the point of cramping.

While I guess this is good, it also meant that I had to make it to the top of this climb while on the verge of cramping.

Todd was great, really encouranging and went just fast enough to give me a carrot to follow. It was hurting bad, just trying to keep forward momentum w/o going over the cramp threshold to full lockup. Just like in the races.

We made it to the top then kept pushing it across the fire road and down horse trail/annex to the cars. 3hrs and something.

What a ride. I had that nausea and queasy feeling like after races. My stomach still hurts. Mission accomplished, El Whapo has been put behind bars (for this week at least), and the hired gun drove off into the sunset in his Vanagon.


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