Tuesday, September 04, 2007

24 Hours Of Seven Oaks Recap

(Note: Picture descriptions in italics. This is the rig I rode: Inbred 29"er with Superlight carbon fork.)

Well, the event that went down this past weekend was a pretty fun time. The 24 Hours at Seven Oaks went pretty well from the standpoint of the people involved and the riding was top notch. Great trails and the event was super well organized and laid back.

It all started for me by getting all the crap associated with going mountain biking together for the weekend on Friday night. I got it all down to two drop bags, my messenger bag, and my Ergon pack. This included changes of street clothing. Got myself into bed and slept great.

Saturday morning started out with a breakfast of PB&J and out the door to meet up with the rest of my Team Stoopid brethren at Bike Tech. We got ourselves out on the road and made it to Seven Oaks without any issues. Once there, we set up camp, and soaked in the rays of a beautiful Saturday morning. The weather was perfect!

Tatooed the Inbred with this fine sticker courtesy of Blue. Thanks bro!

Blue, Brother of Jackal, The Thin Man, and I were all set and ready to go, but none of us even thought to pre-ride the course, which none of us had been on! Oh well, I guess we had time to learn it. Blue went and volunteered to help put back a bridge that had washed out to help add over a mile to the course. After he got back, we went up and checked in, paid our money, and got a sweet event t-shirt that mimiced a label from a certain famous whiskey brand. Cool! Even better, it was a black t-shirt. I'll actually wear it. We went back after we determined that Brother of Jackal was the best runner and would lead out the team by starting on the Le Mans run. I took second turn, The Thin Man took third, and Blue took the last turn.

The start had us all laughing and joking as Brother of Jackal smoked the feild, got on his rig first and disappeared into the woods. WooHoo! Team Stoopid actually lead the race at one point. Anyway, my turn was expected to come around in about an hour, so I wandered over to the start/finish area to await my doom. About two minutes before I went out, I realized I'd left my gloves back at the camp. Doh! No time for that now! Before I knew it, I was up the days first climb.

It was a bit greasy, and switch backs were on tap. I ended up walking the last half of this climb. Up top I remounted. I never had been here and sight lines were really short, so I was very gingerly pecking my way along at an easy pace. I just wanted to finish out the lap as an exploratory one without any crashing and always moving forwards. I alternated walking and riding because my lack of momentum wasn't allowing me to roll stuff like I could have had I known what to expect. Of course, the 34 X 18 gear didn't help that either. I came across a couple of young newbies and took a short breather. We swapped places a few times, then one fell off the back and the other disappeared ahead of me. I was alone again for awhile challenging myself to some tough switchback turns.

The Thin Man and his game face

Then Paul Jacobsen came out of nowhere on his new Redline 29"er. Paul I know from Trans Iowa. He was riding pretty smoothly, so I let him go on. He stopped at a turn not far up and insisted I go on after which I promptly went ass over tea kettle into a ravine. It must have looked pretty silly! I was okay, but Paul went on and I was alone again. A few times after that, I got passed by the really fast guys, but mostly it was me, dirt, and lots of sweat. It got pretty stifling out there in the heat with no wind in the thick woods. I had to stop every so often, rub my sweaty hands on tree trunks to get a tacky grip, and remount. The lack of gloves was really a hindrance. After a slow grind up a gentle slope, I started to find a rhythm and was riding more. This part of the course was less technical, and I was starting to pick up some speed. I ended my lap in an hour and thirteen minutes and handed off to The Thin Man.

I retired to the camp and ate. I was hungry! Then I settled down and awaited my next turn, which came about six o'clock. Good! I didn't want to ride this in the dark, as I only had handlebar mounted lights, and the word was that sort of set up was no good here. By this time, we found out that we were the only four man 12 hour team there, so we won! Woot woot! Winning by default may not be too cool, but it's still winning, and it sure beats losing!

Carlos heading up to breakfast on Sunday morning

My second lap was far better and smoother. I was cleaning more sections and riding a lot faster. My goal was to not crash and cut off some lap time. I got about three quarters of the way in when I high sided a down hill switchback and was air bourne. I had to grab a tree trunk in mid air, spin around it like a stripper on a grease pole, and swing my legs downwards towards the steeply falling away hillside. I dug in my shoes and grabbed at anything I could to slow myself down. I came to a halt about 12 feet below the switchback and slowly crawled back to my bike. Whew! Close, but not a crash. More of a fancy dismount, I'd say!

The final part of the loop takes you around a campground. It was here that I started hearing a tink-tink-tink that got louder and louder as I went. Broken front spoke? Nope. What the......... I stopped to look at the brake rotor/caliper/pad assembly. Nothing looked weird or out of place. This stopping was made more difficult for the myriads of mosquitoes that would decsend upon me the minute I sat still. I couldn't even see since they were all about my head everytime I tried to take a peek. Minutes were going by, but not having a front brake wasn't an option here. I finally figured out that by slightly squeezing the lever, the sound would disappear. So I soldiered on and used more rear brake when I could.

The leader board tells the story!

I got going a bit and then hey! No rear brake at all! Rats! Good thing I was about done with the lap. I coasted in at an hour and twenty something. Terrible, but the brake thing did me in. What could I do? Shades of my past racing experiences swept before me as I remembered how I used to break stuff all the time in XC races.

Back at the pits, I found out one of my rear caliper bolts came all the way out. That explains it! At least the bolt was still hanging in the frame. I made a quick repair on it. Now for the front. I couldn't see what the devil was wrong with it. After fully disassembling and reassembling the unit, it was fine. Weird! Whatever caused the noise was gone.

I ended up not having to go out again. We had no time left for me to take a night lap, and I can't say as I was too discouraged by that news. I went out socializing and shared some fine Stranahan's Whiskey with some fellow racers. I fell asleep in the back of The Thin Man's truck at about 2:30am.

I awoke in the morning, downed some braekfast and we decamped. Took off about 10:30 am and left after having a fine and dandy time. I think I may have to do this again. Maybe for the full 24 hours and some night laps. We'll see!

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