We (The Morris Tribe) rolled into the Scout Camp of the Trans-Sylvania Epic around 7 PM last Saturday.
We rolled in rock star style… Madonna brought a disco ball.
Saturday night was a blur of finding my spot in the bunkhouse at the Eagle Lodge. I ended up in Upper Eagle sharing the private room (2 bunkbeds) with Laura, Jana, and Cathie. I was glad to get a little bit of private space so we could at least change clothes without worrying about anything! The lodge was full. The sleeping arrangements outside our small, private room were a large open room with about 20 bunks; 10 bunks on one side and 2 bunks pushed together making 5 bunk columns per side. People had to choose wisely who they wanted to share their bunk with. The upper bunk was for your suitcase. The lower bunk was for sleeping. People used sheets for limited privacy.
The bathroom situation was 2 toilets, 1 urinal, and 2 private showers. The kitchen was large and roomy with a stove, microwave, oven, and fridge that was jam packed with food and beer. I met the rest of my flatmates for the week – some familiar faces and some new friends. We had a great contigent from Philly on our floor as well and a tiny little Doberman named Froto.
We got up in the morning and went out to breakfast in State College. I picked up my registration when I got back and hopped on my bike. I wanted to ride at least a couple miles of the TT course. I knew I wasn’t handling the start in a very “professional” way but I really didn’t have any other option. I had to work all week and couldn’t get to PA till Saturday. I knew 10 hours in the car the day before a TT was a bad idea, but it’s what had to happen. A full pre-ride would have been nice as well, but that also was not an option for me. A good thing about some of the international stage races I’ve done is that I’ve learned to just go with the flow when things can’t be exactly the way I want them to be. The bad thing is maybe I’ve become a little too nonchalant about my preparation. I went with a couple of my buddies from the Morris Tribe (our Charlotte contingent) and we putzed about 5 miles of the course. My legs felt tight and soggy. Sometimes they feel that way during warm ups, so I tried not to let it bother me. I hit the enduro section of the TT at full speed and cleared the rocks. I was immediately glad I had full suspension. There was also a monster truck tire with a dirt ramp, and some motobike whoops. Soon after, I thought my rear tire felt low. It was… I had slit a sidewall on my new tire on the first DH section of the race, and I was only preriding. In a panic, I gingerly rode back to camp nursing my tire with my handpump. My TT start was in 30 minutes and my tire would not hold air. Dicky told me to stick the wheel in the lake to see where the air was coming out (bubbles).
My option was to stick a tube in which I was really against, or putting a brand new tire on before the start. My precious warm up time for the 14 mile stage were spent with cortisol raging through my veins. I had to track down some Stan’s. I thought I had brought some, but forgot it. Dejay had a bottle I snagged. Brian Conroy (also part of the Morris Tribe) selflessly went back to the Eagle Lodge with me. Fortunately, Chris Merriam had an air compressor to make the situation easier. Brian and I got the tire changed out, new Stans in the tire, and struggled a bit with the compressor to get the tire going. Brian had to take off because his start time was rapidly approaching. Derek helped me tinker with the tire until it was seeded and ready. I was terrified of flatting again, and of riding a freshly booted tire in the race. They normally loose air the first couple rides. I glanced at my watch and saw my start was only 8 minutes away. “There goes my time to warm-up” I thought. I tried not to care. What a way to start a race! I was overcautious and put about 35 PSI in my tire in case it started to loose air.
I was clumsy at the start of the TT making mistakes and bobbling on technical sections I rode with ease at the start. Local pro and badass NoTubes Rider – Vicki Barclay started 30 seconds back and caught me as the singletrack dumped us out onto a short gravel climb. I resigned myself to sticking with her through the next section of trail since she knew the lines. I was getting pinballed off all the rocks. I even messed up the monster truck tire ramp and almost crashed. My legs were screaming in protest with no real warm up. Sarah Kaufmann who started 2 minutes behind me came screaming by. “Wow, I am sucking really bad!!” I thought to myself. She was also riding smooth and strong.
I knew my time was not great when I came in. I tried to shake it off and get my head in it for stage 2. 10 hour car ride, flat tire right before the start, no warm up, no pre-ride—it can’t get too much worse, can it? The only positive I saw was that I could get my heart rate up for the first time in a week. I immediately regretted my decision to race the 6 hour slogfest in Pisgah 6 days before the TSE. What the hell was I thinking?