I had no idea what to expect going into the first race of the Chain Busters SEC series at Tribble Mill. First of all, I don’t get out much into the Atlanta area to mountain bike. Second, I tried to watch the video online, but after a few minutes, it lost my attention. I should have remembered the big slow down at the beginning of the video where it appears no one can ride over some of the simple turns due to all the people jamming up the trail. They tried to alleviate this by a different way of starting.
We were told in the beginning that the race would start as a Le Mans-style start. I had no idea what this meant. It did not look great. The 6-hour racers placed their bikes strategically along the trail at the start and then walked 150 yards away at the “true start.” I did not even know what to think except my carbon soled mountain bike shoes were not the right choice for any kind of running. I used to be a “runner” back in my twenties. I was never fast, but I completed a ton of 5Ks, some 10Ks, a handful of half marathons, and 2 full marathons. I had to stop running after a back injury L5-S1 due to running, bulging disc, and eventually DDD/facet arthritis. The 6-hour races started and here come all these mountain bikers jogging in cycling shoes. It sort of reminded me of horses racing or trotting down the trail. Everyone running in different places to find their bikes. It didn’t look appealing. My back was protesting just watching.
I placed my bike reluctantly at a point on the trail that was easy to find but wasn’t easily retrievable without hopping over other bikes and probably people. I didn’t feel great about it.
I walked to the start line and waited awhile and started the “run” to my bike. No bueno.
I watched in horror as a guy almost ran over my bike on the ground. Not my wheels. He missed by an inch.
I grabbed my bike and hustled on it to start racing. I figured out immediately the Le Mans start wasn’t a success. There were people clogged up on the trail, and I had to dismount several times. I could just feel my own frustration grow but I decided to put it out of my mind because everyone else was in the same boat as me. I could hear comments around me:
“We’re off the bike again? For a left turn?”
“Seriously? We can’t do a small right turn without dismounting?”
But what happens on a start like this is that people who aren’t that fast may be better runners. They end up blocking the faster riders, and it leads to just a lot of waiting. Kudos for trying something new.
Finally, I was able to get around the masses and start riding at my pace. It took several miles to get to that point, but after I concentrated on getting three laps in three hours. I knew I had a lot of ground to make up when I crossed the first lap over one hour. The concentration paid off.
The course is the most twisted trail I have ridden. If you want to work on cornering, this is the course. The Taco Stand was open for the first lap but closed after. Maybe there was too much mud? Maybe someone wrecked?
I’m not good at passing people on narrow twisty trails. I did not overdress this time. I wore shorts, arm warmers and a jersey. The arm warmers came down a little bit later so that I looked like I had on cool tough wrist black wraps. Compared to Snake, I was super comfortable. But, it was an unseasonably warm day.
I carried 3 bottles of infinit/water mix. I think I did two gels? I had trouble handling the little bottle.
Getting ready for the Snake Creek Gap TT Finale in February. Hope for the same temps and a Scott’s Bikes podium shot.