Chris Joice (4)
the grand-daddy of the Tennessee Gravel Triple-Crown, and maybe my favorite race ever! perhaps it's that it's the mountains, the distance, the climbing.... or all of the above??
this was my fourth time doing the Dirty 130, and second ITT attempt on this beast of a route. and as usual, i find myself starting a little later than i'd hoped... 7:59a... not the 6a i'd originally planned so i could see sunrise on course... "best laid plans". perhaps that's the story of the day?
my first goal was to better my previous PR of 12hr and second was to make up the [current] deficit i have in the 22' Triple-Crown competition (approximately 25min). but as the day started, i couldn't help but allow my sights to drift to FKT SS time of Brad Cobb (9:47?!!! nutSS).
unlike 21' when i had to ride the Ratmonk, this time the Dreamchaser was setup primo for the work at hand... geared 38:21 and loaded with just enough to sustain the day and cover mechanicals, etc. 50c tires and a comfy fit made it great all day, and though it's not the snappiest climber, boy does it drop it like it's HOT!
without belaboring each segment of the route and my day, i'll try for a quicker recap [than usual]....
i got a little wrapped up in racing early... i was feeling great and rolling pretty quick, and i knew i might be digging a hole but daggum it was fun trucking up kimsey, lost creek, and star mtn climbs! fueling was a mix of bars, gels, waffles (not the real kind :( ), and Elete drops.... i kept up a reasonable regiment, but in hindsight, i could've used a LOT more calories.
at Coker Creek, i stopped for a coke, chips, and a sausage biscuit... and boy was it needed! the weather was pretty awesome, but the sun and work were zapping me a bit... and as per usual i stopped a little too long. however, part of my stop there was a short conversation with a young guy who showed up on a BMX bike... unlike most of the comments i get (i.e. "you're crazy" "why would you do that" "i'd never do that"), he says the best thing... "you're gonna feel so good after doing that"! we shared some other nice sentiment about bikes and being alive too.. refreshing.
back at it and i was feeling good. trucked up to buck bald for the selfie.. another PR. then onto fingerboard, the multiple rowdy pitches and rugged descents deep in the backwoods sure put it to you at 90mi in! and that's where i started to regret my early efforts, ruh-roh... a little walking and a more conservative pace. [note to self: too much nuun is worse than none at all].
i had hoped to skip the last store in my plan to maybe break 11hr, but it was obvious there's no way i can go without more food and water. i'm also feeling a bunch of tight/twinginess in the legs... please, no cramps! so i fuel up as much as my stomach will take and shove off for the last 30mi.
in the past i've had horrendous cramps on the last 10mi climb and had to walk/limp for seemingly ever, and that's no way to end a huge day. so i dialed effort way back to total "survival mode" and took stock in the fact that i had a reasonable gear which i COULD turn over without too much work. i'd made good headway during the first 90mi of the ride, surely i could afford to finish slow?!
luckily, i didn't have to walk and i never cramped... i cranked up the WSP in my ears and downed the last of my two 5hr's. it felt so very slow, but in hindsight (or strava says), i was moving along fairly well... it helps that i was mentally prepared for the most rugged long climb of the day being the last one!
once i got back to Kimsey Mtn rd, i knew i was going to make it.... i pushed into zone2 a little, knowing i most-likely wouldn't cramp! and then the descent... ripping fast, time for the Dreamchaser to shine and take it to the House!! of course there are a few climbs on the way back "down" the mtn, but they didn't dampen my spirits or take away from a great day.
thanks Kim Murrell for the great route and props to TN Gravel for putting together the Triple Crown ITT. maybe someday we can actually race it proper-like?!
next up: Tellico Highlands ITT!