Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Texas Supergrind Recap

Alright, I have a little time now before the Annual Membership Meeting for HART at Gander Mountain. So lets see...how did it all go again? We headed out Saturday morning at about 1030 or so...at least that's when Monty and Jackie showed. Nick and Jaunda brought up the rear. I was so happy because I was going to showcase a new helmet cam made by Oregon Scientific, the ATC-1000! Nick had told me about it and when I read about it, I thought it was really cool! Its self-contained and is just a tube that you can strap onto your helmet or handlebar. So I got it and set up my helmet-cam that morning--I had already tried it out in the car to see how long a 1gig SD card would last--about an hour. I did this a couple of times...this will be a very important piece of information for later on.

Anyway, after messing around a bit with Toby...poor Toby, he was given away that same weekend...we loaded up the HART van, which Rick had let us use for the weekend, and the Bludworths followed us out to Boerne. I had Nick drive first, hoping it would keep him preoccupied...it kinda did, it kinda didn't. After stopping in Columbus for lunch and getting some gas, I fell asleep on the way there. Jaunda was navigating, so I had no worries...it was Nick that kept calling a UTM ruler an ATM card. Down I-10, around San Antonio on 1604, a left on 46, and a right on Deep Hollow--we were there, Tapatio Springs.

We checked in first so that we could change clothes before pre-riding the course. As I had said in a previous blog, they had removed the fabled "Supergrind" from the race course, which left us dismayed. But Nick wasn't about to get cheated out of his money. While we were all changing into bike clothes, me expecting us to drive up the Supergrind and do the regular course, Nick asks me for the keys to the bike locks. I nonchalantly told him, "in the center console" of the van. Dumbass, I was so oblivious. He was taking down the bikes, BEFORE we drove up the Supergrind. So he was determined to ride the Supergrind today! I didn't realize this until Jaunda slowly explained it to me. Then it clicked and the dread started to fill my body. Criminy, that hill has similar grade to Jester, which I guess is good if I want to train for Jester. But we had a race the next day! I couldn't back out now--he had ALL our bikes prepped and ready to roll, painfully up that hill.

We mounted our steeds and creeped our way to the Supergrind. Thankfully, there was a small downhill before we got there, which gave us a running start at it. But it didn't help much--as soon as the pavement steeply turned up, we were to a crawl. To boot, something was wrong with my helmet cam. It turned itself off right before we even got to the Supergrind. "Huh" I said then turned it back on--it seemed to be working...I had no more time to fiddle with it, though, as I was now at the foot of the monster. Slow and steady I told myself...no popping today. At first I kept it in the middle ring to see if I could keep the speed I thought I would need at Jester, but then I remembered I was racing tomorrow. So I kicked it back a notch and dropped into the small ring, but still trying to keep a good clip. We didn't have a warmup, so my lungs were burning. We all survived the climb, but my chest felt like it had caved in. Then I inspected the camera to see if it got my awesome climb--gah! It was turned off again. Apparently, there was a reason why they didn't put the estimated record time on the box--because its less than 2 hrs on 4 AAA batteries!! I was pissed! We tried cannibalizing batteries out of Jackie and Monty's blinky lights, but those too were drained. What a waste. I got over it and we slowly got back in our saddles and headed toward the trails.

First section was rocky with some dispersed double track ending in single track. It was tight and there is one downhill switchback on this section that I couldn't clear, so I just jumped off before it, even in the race. I figured I wouldn't lose that much time as long as I got off early and ran through the switchback, which was the case during the race. We slowly went along, analyzing the trail for clean lines. We hit the first road crossing and then had to climb up the road pretty much right away. Thankfully, what goes up must come down...we got some good speed going until we hit the single track again. Our first earnest climbs, up technical single track with switchbacks and big rocks. Good times. Here, I kept coming back to sections that I didn't clean the first time, which paid dividends during the race! Slowly we made it up the hillside, finally ending at a double-track road at the top of the climb. The rocks were definitely taking their toll.

The rest of the trail was similar, but not as tough. Just the same rocks that shook the daylights out of you. In no time we were back to the beginning. It was a good preride--no one got hurt and we knew what to expect now. After trying (unsuccessfully) to reach the registration table before it closed, we rode back down the Supergrind. Yeehaw!! We got up to speeds of 40-45mph! I'm sure we could have gone faster, but brakes were applied since the bottom of the hill was no longer policed. What a rush! We put up our bikes, showered, and headed back down 46 for dinner. We stopped at Naples Pizza and Restaurant for some pasta and wine. It was great--I had the Rigatoni. What I actually liked a lot was what Jaunda got--the Gnocci! I did it all for the Gnocci! The Gnocci! So you can take that Gnocci and...radio edit. It was yummy and a couple of glasses of red wine for the antioxidants, per Ciopollini's prescription. We had an odd, fired-up waitress, who seemed to be on something...she slightly reminded us of a female Dennis Miller. But she did treat us well...even though she tried to charge us with 6 extra glasses of wine! That was it for us--it was straight to bed after that.

Jackie and Jaunda working on race strategy
Beep-beep!...beep-beep!....beep-beep!....beep-beep-beep-beep-beep...! WTF?!? As Nick said, "what the heck is that noise?!" It was Jaunda's ironman watch, set at a gosh-darn-awful time....and it went off more than once! She couldn't turn it off, so she ended up wrapping it up in a towel and putting it in the bathroom. Smooth....silence...."Oooh, Ooooh, its Saturday! Ooh, Ooooh!" WTF again?!? This time it was my phone. Text messages coming in...I had no idea how to stop them from coming. I couldn't turn off the phone because I had set the alarm for when we were supposed to wake up. So I tried to set the network to where I thought it wouldn't get a signal. But an hour or so later I found out it didn't work and Ludacris was blaring into my ear. I turned it off quickly to avoid the whinings of ol' Nick.

The morning came and we got up at around 6am. Breakfast at the Tapatio restaurant at 7 and we were suited up and ready to head up to registration and the start line. It was cold and windy. Monty and I started to warm up since sport started at 9am. A lot of racers. After the prerace chat, we staged at the starting line. There were about 30 in my age group and Joe Love was there. We said 'hi' the day before, but now it was gametime--no pleasantries. He was the only one I recognized from racing 2 years ago. I also saw Andreas a minute before--he's in the age group behind me. 9am. First age group goes. Adrenaline starting to surge, but not as much as it did 2 years ago--I was more experienced and mature and knew pretty much what to expect. Calmness. Tranquilo. We edged closer and closer to the start. I gave Jaunda my jacket as she was watching us start before her and Jackie would get ready for their 1pm start.

Go! We were off. I had a tough gear ratio going but did not go for the front position since I knew it would be a long technical race and I would be able to whiddle them down in the second lap. So I started conservatively and was in the top half of the field. Cruising along, no problems so far--well within myself. We hit the first road crossing and this is where I pass my first group of people and then tucked in behind one guy to hide from the wind. I passed more people and was now hovering in the top 10--just where I wanted to be. We entered the single track on the other side and I passed yet more people as they popped on the climbs. My technical skills are a lot better than 2 years ago and I was clearing stuff with no problem and kicking butt on the switchbacks.

Then we hit this barney train going way too slow, but we had no room to pass in the highly rocky, rooty terrain. So I just slipped into a very small gear and made sure to stay balanced even though we were now crawling. I could tell the people behind me would get hung up because they weren't adapting. Finally, it started to clear so I started making my moves. But then it happened. My rear tire was way too mushy and I looked down and was immediately depressed. Flat. Just like the beginning of my fall series in 2004, I got a pinch flat...and again I was thinking about DNF'ing. But this time, since we were in the team challenge, it would be important that I at least finished, so I started changing my tube. I saw Andreas as he went by. That's when I knew I was slipping way behind the pack. Thankfully it was a pretty clean switch out and I was back on the trail...but I still had a lot of work to do now. I sped up and tried to catch up, but at the same time kept it even so that I wouldn't just end up blowing myself up.

One by one, I worked myself back into the pack. I was now treating this as a pure training ride, so I concentrated on my technique and passing skills. I felt strong, even though I was pushing to get back into the thick of things...this makes me wonder how I would have placed without the misfortune of a flat. Chip, chip, chip...little axe. The last final technical ascent and I was still picking off riders...then there was this junior rider that didn't give trail. No problem, I just waited at the top of the climb where I knew he would slow down to navigate the rock garden. I made my move, but he swerved into me as he was trying to maneuver around a large rock. Instinct took over and I leaned into him, thinking he would lean into me so that we could give each other support and get through the rocks. But he was not prepared for this so I ended up getting the good end of the deal and was able to pop off of him and keep riding, but he had to stop. I felt bad, but as Jaunda said, I probably made him a stronger rider because of that...plus as Rick would say, rubbin is racin.

PaynesThis was now the final stretch...the big ring stretch, theoretically. But the headwind negated this. So I just found the biggest guy ahead of me and pushed to chill in his back pocket...wheel sucker extraordinaire. But I didn't feel too bad because there was a guy behind me pretty much doing the same thing in my pocket--hiding in it. So we did this for a short while, but the guy giving me the ride was starting to peter out in the wind. So I pulled to the side and started hammering to see if the guy behind me could follow. He could and he did. But he didn't try to pass, so I still dictated the pace. We turned around away from the wind, so life was good again, but the rocks made their reappearance. Then I goofed a bit and took a really bad line through a rock garden. I was sure he would pass me up here, but he never came. He was still there, hugging my back wheel. This is where I figured out he must be hurting. So I poured it on a bit to see if he could respond. He couldn't and he didn't. The last sharp turn back into the wind and into the finish line. I poured it on thick like mollasses and I put a gap on him. He and a few others were starting to gain on me, but it was too late--the finish was only a hundred meters away. I stopped my mashing and sat up. It was a good race and a fun race despite my flat. I finished 18th, which I guess isn't too bad for having a mechanical.

BludworthsShort after my finish, I ran into Nick as he was getting ready for his race. I saw him off as his age group of experts flashed through the start line. Then I ran into the ladies and Monty after he finished. He apparently had a few nasty spills during the race, so bad he contemplating the DNF. But he kept at it and finished strong. We went back to the van and tahoe as Jackie explained that the Tahoe had a huge gash through the rear left tire. Jeepers, those rocks are vicious! So, Monty switched out the tire quickly so that we could head down the hill and wash up, eat lunch, and come back in time to watch Jackie and Jaunda race.

MMMM, blinzte!!Showered and packed up, we left the hotel rooms for the last time. Ah, and this is where the deception starts. First, I pull a fast one on the Tapatio Resort staff--they called me Mr. Jaunda Payne. Funny how my credit card said Kenny Farrow, but they chose to ignore that, even as we walked out of the hotel lobby. Have a great day, Mr. Payne! Nice. SR-71 in full stealth mode. Next, we tell Jaunda, Nick, and Jackie that we would just stop by the restaurant for a quick hamburger or something of the like. We walk in and are greeted by the host, asking us if we wanted brunch. Monty proceeds to tell them we just want lunch. But the host tells us all they have is brunch and that this will be the best brunch that we have ever experienced. So we bit--we were fully served and waited on like we were still resort guests. So while the others were foregoing lunch at the moment, Monty and I were enjoying our champagne, crab stuffed tilapia, and chocolate cake. Evil. Oh, it was so delightful and this is where I commented, "this is not mountain bike racing!" But I continued on with the pampering then tipped the wonderful piano player as we waltzed out of there, fully satiated. Oh if they only knew...

Chomping on Bit
So we buzz back up the hill, just in time to watch Jaunda and Jackie take off in their age group. They were off. I went to the other side of the start loop to catch them on the flip side and that's where I saw Nick. I was excited to hear how he did, but then he tells me that he had a flat! Kicker was that he didn't have any tools with him, so he was trying to pry the tire off with whatever twigs were around him at the time. Unfortunately, twigs do not double well as tire levers. He wasn't able to switch out his tubes, so he ended up DNF'ing. Oh well, he already had a good training weekend in from yesterday. He was okay with it.

Winners PodiumThen we positioned ourselves along the trail to see the women pass by...and there was Jackie blazing up the rocks and roots! She was kickin some tail! Jaunda was not too far behind, trying to hold off a couple of women in her age group. We sprinted to the finish as they would cross soon...and there was Jackie, in first place! Yehaw!! Jaunda was fighting for 5th, but had a small crash right before the final straightaway and had to settle for 7th. Even so, everyone was in good spirits as they had done all they could do, which is all we can ask of anyone. We waited for the award ceremony, which seemed to never come, to see Jackie take the podium. It was awesome!

Kenny checking the results out
So that was it. We packed up our gear, headed into Boerne for a quick linner, and pushed onward back to the H. So in summary, it was a great weekend with great friends! I'm already looking forward to the next mountain bike race weekend...for me, Waco. Team Challenge results are now up. Next, Jester Part I.


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