Monday, April 30, 2007

Tennessee Dirt Sweat & Gears 12 Hour report or Act Naturally

Well I hope you come and see me in the movies
Then I know that you will plainly see
The biggest fool that ever hit the big time
And all I gotta do is act naturally

Those lyrics to the Beatles song seem appropriate for this past weekend's race in Tennessee and I'll explain why later. I went down with the plan to ride for fun and have a good time with the other team members, six of us in total. I didn't plan on being competitive after racing the 100 miler last weekend.

We arrived at the race site on Friday afternoon to find a lot of pits already set up but we managed a good one across from the Dirt Rag crew and with some of the top pros a few tents away from us on either side. We took an easy prelap, well as easy as you can with 1,200 feet of climbing in10.5 miles. The course is fairly new but was really fun, lots of singletrack, fast downhills and some killer uphills. Also lots of jagged rock in places that would come into play in the race the next day. I'm glad it was dry, the trail would have been difficult in the wet.

Back at the race site they had a vendor area with local merchants, food concessions, and some national sponsor tents . In the evening some of the top pros held a meet and greet and we talked with Tinker and had a team picture taken with him. Tinker is sponsored by Cannondale, our primary team sponsor as well. One of our team members used to race with Tinker on a BMX team a long time ago.

While the pros were signing autographs Robin and I started talking to someone who does reports for a Tennessee public TV program, Tennessee's Wild Side. We explained a little about the sport and what would happen in the race and then he asked if we would mind being interviewed for their show. Robin and I each had a chance to talk while the camera was rolling. They wanted to get some on course video footage but by this time the light was fading so I volunteered to start the race with the camera on the bike.

The next morning we took some footage with the camera pointed in different positions prior to the start. The start itself was a running start, you had to run to where the bike was and then take off. When the gun went off I was in about the top 1/3 to the bike but had to wait for the camera man to help me with the recorder waist pack and make sure the tape was rolling. I ended up dead last out of the start area.

I put it into XC race mode and hustled to try and catch up so that other riders would be in the footage and not just an empty trail. I started passing people as well as my HR reached it highest point it has been all year, not exactly the usual endurance pace I have been running. I was wired for sound and they promised to edit anything I said that might not be acceptable on the air. I think I was polite, besides it's hard to say much when you are huffing and puffing besides "on your right", or "when you get a chance".

I stopped shortly before the end of the lap to give back the camera and recorder. I saw the camera man in the wood later shooting additional footage. The show is supposed to air in a few months and they will send a DVD of it to us.

I was pretty well cooked after the first lap and decided to call it a day after only 3.5 hours. I have a whole season ahead of me and didn't want to push to the point of physical exhaustion for this particular race.

The race took its toll on a lot of racers and bikes with flats being the number one problem. Even Tinker had two flats on the first lap but still managed a third place in the pro division.

I can't say enough about the race venue and hospitality of the people in the area. The town really supported the race; the mayor was selling clothing items including the shirt showing at the top of the page. She was delighted to have everyone in town.

I think this may have been the first race where I left weighing more than when I arrived. The race entry fee got us dinner Friday night, pancake breakfast race morning (I didn't partake) and dinner after the race. We had a chance to sample a lot of southern cuisine since the post race dinner was excellent pulled pork and we bought a Cajun sampler for lunch which contained red beans and rice, crawfish etouffee, and jambalaya. Later in the afternoon we sampled homemade fried pies.

The awards after saw our team member Shirlee Finch get second place for solo amateur women. The amount of prize drawings they had was amazing including 7 bikes and frames, a Fox fork and a complete SRAM gruppo. None of us won anything big but scored some smaller items that were tossed to the crowd.

We had a good time and I would recommend the race to anyone for next year. We are talking about doing it again and maybe extending our time to take in some of the other trails in the TN/GA area.

Check out some other pictures and video of the pit area.

Next up on the race calendar is Fort Custer XC on May 6th.

Tinker with some of the team

Listening to the band

The had trial demos during the day

This helicopter showed off landing a few times

Interesting sculpture at the entrance to the trail

Tinker getting ready to start another lap


Jeff Kerkove said...

Nice to finally meet you in person. I have some pics posted...I think there is a couple of you.

Steve Kinley said...

I saw that and have it posted on out team website, thanks.
See you at Mohican. Well, at the start and finish anyway.

Danielle said...

Good job Steve. I wish that I could have gone down (to eat)!!! I think that my friend and I are going to ride our bikes out to Ft. Custer, so hopefully we'll see you there!

BTW..thanks for watching out for me and correcting the cycling news thing :-)

Steve Kinley said...

Can you come out and push me up the hills?

Danielle said...

Definitely. And then I'll block everyone chasing you!!!