Monday, April 27, 2009

2009 Cohutta National Ultra-Endurance Race

Last weekend, fearless singlespeeder JD and I, the less-fearless geared rider, competed in the first race of the National Ultra-Endurance Mountain Bike Series. Held on trails next to the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Duckworth, TN, and site of the 1996 Olympic competition, Cohutta served up 35 miles of rolling singletrack, beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains, and formidable rivals. The singletrack was separated by gravel logging roads that climbed at total of 11,000 feet in 65 miles (my race, see less-fearless) and 12,000 feet in 100miles (fearless JD). For the record, JD and I rode to the start from our campsite- another 2 miles roundtrip for each of us.

My race went much better than I could have expected given the limited training I was able to do since February. The singletrack was fun, especially the opening section which thanks to a pre-ride the day before the race, I was able to cruise through in my big ring (!) with little braking. But that singletrack was preceded by a stiff opening three mile road climb. Starting fifteen minutes after the hundie riders, we 65ers took off at 7.15am. Foolishly, I tried to stay with the lead group of riders up the climb. That worked for a mile and a half; the group split with me in the bottom half, and that group split again up the last pitch before entering the singletrack, with yours truly sitting last wheel. Three miles in and I was spent.. oof. But I tried to hold steady through the first section, hoping (like everyone else) I might gain time on the wide-open fireroad climbs and, what I discovered would be the blazing fast descents. I cleaned the first section of singletrack, the closing section, when I was tired, it was hot, and I wanted the race to be over, and even the "tricky" water crossing in between- so I'm happy with that. I kept pedalling, yo-yo-ing with a handful of the same riders: often catching them on climbs only to lose ground on the rapid gravel road descents as my frequently smaller size made for less gravitational pull. Note for next year- less tire pressure would have been a better choice. I ran (Chris- rubbed?) a higher pressure, thinking I would benefit on the gravel roads. In hindsight, lower pressure would have been better so that I could carve the turns a little more. Instead, I slide through the corners, floating and bouncing on top of the gravel.

The race was a surprise in many ways. I didn't expect to discuss Foucault during my ride, but did. Or 9-11. Thanks to John from Asheville for that conversation. Thanks also to Linus and Brian H, from the Bicycle Chain of Durham, who always keep my bikes running in top notch shape. Where would I be without them? Riding a mud-caked bike that doesn't shift or brake quite right. I'll leave JD to tell his story.

Sorry, no pics yet. They may surface later this week. I'll post if they do. I finished in 20th place. Don't get too excited it was more than 1 hour behind the winner, Tom Bender, who turned in an unbelievably fast 4.40.


felonious said...

3rd from the right:

DukePirate said...


Ali on CyclingNews!!!!!!!!

Great report and great ride, not to mention a little (virtual) ink for the sponsors!

So with a full training regimen you're thinking top 10 for next year? 5?