Monday, July 25, 2011

The Cursed Remains

My day started at 5:15am with the alarm sounding and me hitting the snooze button several times so my day didn’t really start until around 5:45. I jumped in the ride and headed North up I-270 toward the Mason-Dixon Line, realizing along the way that I had missed yet another legendary Saturday night as the signs were everywhere, but such is the life of this weekend warrior. There was a drunk, shirtless redneck wandering I-270 and several miles later, the troopers had a lane shut down so a tow truck could scrape a car out of the ditch after rolling a few turns. Yes, those were the days…

After several wrong turns, I found myself at the Big Flat (yes, that is the proper name) parking area for Michaux’s Curse of Dark Hollow 40 miler. Not quite sure of Dark Hollow’s curse but one thing I have learned about the Michaux Endurance Series is that it never fails to rain on race day. Poz and I discussed this on the starting line and he said he remembered to close his windows. I didn’t. We were off, and I quickly dropped to the back on the long false- flat gravel road, but not to worry. There are 40 miles of soul crushing, technical trail to follow. Back at the lot, I had seen a disturbing amount of weight weenie tires, but now that I entered the first section of chucky trail, I began to notice a refreshing number of folks changing flats. A beacon of hope, in a seemingly hopeless attempt at another race for me. In one section, I made a brazen attack on a rider, taking the line less traveled and paid the price getting off-line and taking a digger. At least I supplied some entertainment. At around mile 12, an ego deflating number of single speeders (they started a minute back) came stomping by. In that group was Buck would later become my slum partner for the day.

As we approached aid station 2, I came upon Poz who carried the torch for Tony who is out with a broken ankle. By this I don’t mean he froze his Camelbak bladder which Tony had done last year and we joked about a couple of hours prior, but broke off his derailleur cage after cutting his chain too short and shifting into the one gear he shouldn’t have. Remembering how I got stuck at aid station 2 last year, sucked in by sandwiches and social time, I was determined to get in and out with the quickness, however this year the lure of cantaloupe kept me in just long enough to see friends coming up the road and before I knew it, they were accumulating and I saw my plans go right out the window.

I played tag with those single speed guys including one Dan Atkins, Buck and Mark Elsasser as well as a few I didn’t recognize and eventually Buck and I found ourselves slumming alone. Things got hazy. I got sloppy. Buck and I shared a slice of cantaloupe rolling out of aid 3. Now we were plugged back in with the 20 milers and the suffering was visible everywhere you looked. Riders standing unable to catch their breath or walking stiff legged from the cramps. Buck and I rolled in together, just like last month at Reddish Knob. 5th place for me in Vet. There was another fellow there on flat pedals in the 20 miler. I saw him roll in on an entry level Trek and there were rumors of him riding with his rear brake unhooked. I saw something in his face when he crossed the finish line. He must have seen something out there amoungst the loam, pines and stones. A look of horror and joy that it has all come to an end. He made eyes with a familiar face a broke a slight smile, yet remained silent. Just what happened, we may never know. Perhaps he experienced the Curse. I suspect he found that dark place we all have found in the woods that keeps us coming back for more. Welcome my friend. You done good.

The lure of Aid #2...

Been digging in crates lately and found negatives before I knew I took pitures. Here are some shots of Andy throwing down in the Laurel Pits in the pre-freeride era of '89...

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