Tired worn out and ready for a break when I headed to awesomeness that is Shenandoah Mtn 100. Of course that wasn’t a break…so FCKN heavy. Then last week Chris Schilling was hit by a car while on a charity ride. He was in a coma and on a ventilator and fighting for his life. Well respected and well loved, his friends created a hashtag… #singlespeedforSchilling. Trying to ease my feeling of helplessness, and raise as much positive energy as I could muster for Chris, I asked friends and social media to post pics and use the hashtag. Pics came in from everywhere and I soon lost track of them all…what a wonderful little community this can be.
FUCK. Can’t September be over al FCKN ready.
Motivation to *race* Vermont 50 at an all time low… I decided the whole point of my day would be one hill. That one hill about midway, the one with the adirondack chairs, picnic table and glorious view. I wanted to get there and sit, think about my friends and say goodbye.
We rented the same house we had last year, the course crosses the driveway at mile 33 or so. A nice house with lots of space, a deck/fire pit, big yard and the huge bonus that we could bring the dogs. Chad and Kelly were joining us this year, no kids but MOAR pups! Yay friends and bikes and dogs!
Weather on tap was to be beautiful, we got up on there Thursday evening. Chad and Kelly on Friday… I poked around the trails at the house, not wanting to take any chances solo. Chad and I hit the Ascutney trails, man those trails are fun…flowy tech fun. Get back in time for the kids race, register and see all the peeps. H-Ball was staying with us and driving me to the race start…yay friends! Jeff stayed with us as well, wanting to cowbell and watch everyone come through. My kids made signs for our friends.
I was making jokes and sharing brown water before the 6A start. The 50 starts with some kicks in the teeth…I cruised and started noticing the beautiful sky. I soon got passed by the hammerheads starting 5 min behind me…shortly after Scott went zooming by (looking fresh as hell) I stopped for the most amazing sunrise.
While I was stopped to admire the view, some more of the boys went past. Peri and I share an affinity for sunrises, he’s always looking at it…typically from the seat of his bicycle or from a tree stand. He asked to make sure I was ok, I pointed…he said thanks. So often you go racing through and aren’t aware of your surroundings…today was not that day for me. I stopped at the 2nd aid station and stayed longer than normal, had watermelon and potatoes and thanked the volunteers. A bit before aid 3 I noticed a clicking out of the rear wheel, hmm I’ll need to check that. I came upon some skulls and a bunny and low and behold Scott had tacoed his front wheel on a rider who crashed in front of him. Super sad for Scott he came in super fit, had a great result at Shen and was absolutely moving when he passed me. The clicking got louder I stopped to check the situation out. I fiddled with it for a spell, more familiar faces rolled by, no one taking my offering of the brown water. It seemed to be better and I was rolling again soon. I sipped some whisky for the crowd at three, or is it whiskey…I have to ask Adam, I’m fairly certain he sent whiskey. TNB came along at that time, and was concerned for me…wondering why I was drinking and not wanting me to do anything stupid. That was super nice. I’m not sure I gave him a complete answer, or one that made sense…I had my reasons and I never got a buzz on. On the next climb the clicking was annoying loud and I decided to stop at the top to adjust the dropouts. Maybe I didn’t have them straight… Who knows. I adjusted them, saw many more faces. All of them passing. Sitting on the road, people asking me if I needed anything. I’d had a couple of spokes break at the nipple, they were rubbing on the caliper. Nipples breaking but not my spirit. Uber calm, I removed the rotor to remove the offending spokes and reinstalled it all. Hopped back on started away and SHIT! I forgot to tighten the drop outs. Flipped the bike back over to adjust and tighten. I looked down the foggy road and saw Cookie and Rave. Today was going to be good, really good.. We shared some whiskey and got the wheel operable…sadly it was grinding the caliper away. So we zip tied the spokes together..that Rave not just another pretty face!
This is the beautiful Palomino that popped his nose on the E-Fence when Rave tried to feed it grass.
We cruised along until when bombing a downhill I noticed this beautiful hand made log bench on a stream…and stopped to take a selphie, that didn’t turn out….maybe i should invest in a selfie stick. I yelled I’d catch up and who comes up?? Kimarie! Yay! MOAR friends to ride with.
We rode together and laughed a TON, taking in every spectacular view, petting dogs…and stopping to pee, a whole lot lol. I chatted with damn near every one and offering whiskey to them all. Thankfully, it’s been a long time since I was at the back of the pack in one of these things…this time I was having so much fun just FCKN around. I tried to keep the mood light with the ppl suffering at the back and giving tips when warranted…I was in no hurry, hanging with friends, cruising at their pace. Enjoying getting a little rowdy on the downs, practicing track stands while they took pee breaks, chilling with Rave and taking in all the surroundings. As we take the turn to Garvin Hill I mentioned to Rave that when you are pushing this is where it start really hurting… Unknowingly they moved the aid station to the bottom of the hill, which gave us a chance to chill a bit…grab some coke, share some whiskey and focus on the fun. While we were going up the hill Special K kept wanting to stop to take a pic… We gotta wait! I knew what was coming, we gotta wait.
Man o man was it ever worth it.
I was really having a lot of fun. A beautiful day, riding with friends and thinking about friends gone in quiet moments. The pace had been slowing a bit I made little reminders that we’re on “such and such pace” just so they realized what was ahead of us. Coming into Cady Brook hooting and hollering, catching a good bit of air on a little rock. I’m sure I was a bit annoying to some of the other racers being so damn chipper, but it didn’t matter and I didn’t FCKN care. There were racers that liked my smiles, the volunteers liked my attitude…again it didn’t matter and I didn’t FCKN care. Cookie Rave Kim and I were having a blast. We lingered a bit in the aid stops and I reminded them legs get heavy with stops. Coming out of Cady Brook is a longish gentle climb alongside said brook…so very beautiful. Some more road, some singletrack and we were headed to my moment…the moment I’d thought about for weeks.
It was so FCKN beautiful.
I don’t have any more words… Sitting on that hill, with those people…that was a special moment for me. Fuck… even Kim had whiskey.
We didn’t stay too long and leaving that spot I felt an urgency I hadn’t felt all day. A weight lifted.
The pace slowed climbing into Margaritaville…We were some 26 miles in and we’d been out there almost as long as it took me in 2014. Margaritaville is the best stop…steel drums, homemade cookies, Hawaiian shirts and fantastic attitudes! The road continued to climb out of the stop, Kim and I paced up the climb, Cookie and Rave were a ways back. Cookie was suffering a bit, she’d gotten behind on her food…all the chit chatting. FTR it’s harder to measure your intake while hammering than while FCKN around. Kim and I talked it out…I could tell she was feeling strong, Cookie had her support system, Rave…he wasn’t leaving her side….She’d be better than fine.
We decided to move along. I talked with Kim reminding her that she was stronger than anyone else we were riding with. She was indeed riding strong, she’s been saving her legs for so long…I wanted to reinforce it. I reminded her ride the punchy stuff like a Singlespeed, use flow, ramping up speed on the flat before the climb, momentum is your friend. She looked great.
Somewhere before Grenalls I tweaked my knee, it didn’t like riding up hills and it like walking them more. Pretty soon I was chasing her as she was moving… I was behind her by a couple of hundred feet when we got to Grenalls, when she didn’t stop it made me happy. She was gonna crush the rest of the day! The house we rent is mile 33 or so on course, we love it. Spectating without leaving the house for the win. Heading into the singletrack I waited for her…when we got to the house. I grabbed the beer Chad left for me and decided I’d had enough. Knee bothering me. Down 4 total spokes. The hill behind me. I was at peace. I told Kim to kick ass and away she went.
Showered and got to the finish, met my friends and teammates who killed the race.
So proud of Kim and Diana. Gave them a big hug and here’s when they came in, and of course Mike as well. We had sooo much fun out there. Next year I’ll get me a PR, this years Vermont 50k was just what I needed. Cathartic, enjoying life, riding with friends, living the dream and just FCKN around.
Vermont 50: It goes up, then down, and repeats until you get a hug and a medal.
Sadly in the car coming back is when I learned of Chris passing that Sunday evening surrounded by family. The world lost a good human. I wish I had more words about Chris, it’s still so fresh after losing Ross weeks ago. My heart hurts for Mitch and my NJ friends. My friends and I have so much respect for the MTBNJ crew.
Hug your loved ones, hold them tight. #singlespeedforSchilling