Josh BlahBlah

Huge thanks to every that helped make this happen. All the riders I talked to had a great day and were nothing but smiles.┬áHere’s my stab at a ride report:

Josh’s 2012 Strava mapping

Equipment: Aluminum Jet 9 w/ my trusty 1×10 drivetrain (32 front ring, 11/36 cassette).

It was neat starting before sunrise in a thick misty fog. Beth did a good job getting things started, and the excitement was permeating through the air. It was so humid and foggy no one could use their glasses, so I ended up ditching mine early. The ride down to Zilker was tame and the group leaders did well to keep us all together (definitely the safest way to get us to the greenbelt). The traffic was pretty nice as it should be at that insanely early hour on a Saturday.

The Barton Creek Greenbelt is my “home” trail so I was pretty excited to ride in an event that used it. Given the group of 100+ riders, I wanted to make sure I was near the front going in to try and avoid any pile-ups off the bat. As we approached the entrance (which was blocked by placement of the ACL festival admin offices and temporary buildings), some of the more experienced EB’ers told me I was going on the wrong side of the barriers, but I knew better. I think a few of the faster guys got stuck on the wrong side of the rerouted trail, and somehow I ended up charging into the greenbelt with the “hole shot” and Matt Barkley on my wheel. We put down a decent pace to try and gain some breathing room and it seemed to be working. My favorite part was passing pedestrians and saying “100 riders back! No… Seriously… 100 back!” and then Matt echoing the same warning. No one believed us. By the time we got to the first creek crossing, I didn’t hear anyone else behind us and we just kept motoring along at a steady clip. Sweet 16 went better than expected (no dabs!), but before we finish it, Nathan Winklemann appears from the backwoods and jumps into our group. Wink is crazy strong but is from out of town so has no idea where to go and he can’t charge ahead. Pump house descent goes quickly, and before I know it we’re headed up Mulch hill, then the Western fenceline. Powerline gets a bit sketchy near the bottom and we dismounted to control the risks, take a wrong turn at the bottom, then turn around to see Tristan and Ron have caught on. We get across the creek and up the ole Hill of Life. Tristan is TRYING to go slow, but he still can’t help but float right by us without even breathing.

At the top of the HOL we take our time and ride up to the light which gives enough time for Adam Gaubert and John Pattie to catch up. I make sure to lock out the front and rear suspension on each road section of the day (love my old Jet9). Heading north on 360, JP sprints ahead then turns off to the right at Las Cimas to never be seen again – sneaky that guy. My girlfriend was kind enough to meet us at the top of the HOL and rides with us on her rode bike as part of her morning workout (the extra encouragement was pretty sweet). My 32t front chainring felt a little small on some of the pavement descents, but it was easy enough to draft the group on the downs. We made crazy good time to the first big pavement hill of the day. Courtyard sucked, but was covered in fog, so at least that hid its height from us. City Park Hill didn’t feel so bad compared to Courtyard but by this point we were looking forward to visiting the fire station to rehydrate. Nate, Matt, and I all stop for water there while Adam, Tristan, and Ron go straight down the hill to Emma. The firefighters were friendly but didn’t seem to be expecting us.

Emma long was tricky but manageable. We tried to keep a decent pace and didn’t stop anywhere. Lots of new lines seem to be appearing there and it was nice to have options on many of the features. Matt was killing it, and Nathan was riding crazy good especially considering he’d never ridden the trail before. As we motored out of Emma Long and head back up City Park Hill we caught sight of Ron, Tristan, Adam and we regrouped. Luckily they didn’t feel like running away – we were all happy to work together and enjoy the company. Somewhere around the top of City Park road Ron drops back to recover, and after that point he’s soldiering on alone but keeps a solid pace.

Heading to Jester, Matt and Nathan stop at the bottom for the taco station, and Adam, me and Tristan decide to push onward up Jester as I still have a bottle of water left. At this point I can feel my legs twinging, letting me know pushing it too hard is going to result in cramping later, so I decide to keep it as easy as my 32-36 combo will let me. We missed Lakewood and did the Beauford descent by mistake. SKETCHY – had not been down that one before. While waiting at the light at the bottom Nate and Matt reappear and the 5 of us ride up 360 to Spicewood springs to start St Ed’s together.

The St Eds climb starts to wake me up to the fatigue my legs are really starting to feel. At this point we are nearly 60 miles into the ride and I’m feeling it. As an added surprise, St Eds had a bonus climb I never knew about that starts right after the descent. We climb 2/3rds back up the hill, nearly breaking my spirits as I wasn’t prepared for the 2nd rise. Skirting the exposed cliff line had my heart beating as well, must have missed that in the pre-ride. We exit together and ride up to Thumper in our five man group, slowly clawing up Yaupon. A random dude w/ no helmet on a fancy full squish sprints up the hill past us. Betting he wasn’t 60 miles deep at that point. Cindy’s food station is a life saver. We all stop to chow down on nutrients and grab some cold gatorade. We gave each other a good minute or two to take it in – how cordial – and head into Thumper.

Matt says “I got this one” and takes the lead as we dive into the singletrack. I try to grab his wheel and hold it, but it’s costing me too much energy and he’s RAILING it. I wanted whatever he just ate. Tristan, Nathan, and Adam are all interested in following but I can’t so I let them go by until I’m alone. At this point I just want to get through this thing and focus on not wasting energy. Eventually I catch back up to Adam and we ride together for the next 20 minutes encouraging each other. Was so nice not to be alone there. We run into Ron as we get to the end of the northern loop as he’s just starting it. He tells us we’re lost and as I’m not too familiar with the trail I start to believe him but remember this is the same place I ran into Cody B with my gf a couple weeks ago pre-riding; the trail just happens to double back on itself for a short time here. Continuing on, Adam and I grit our teeth through to the end without any major incidents (but plenty of profanity) and Pay Cindy one last visit for cold Gatorades and more water. She lets us know the 3 leaders are just a minute or two up, and we head out.

Trying to keep a decent pace on the ride to Walnut was considerably easier than just surviving on Thumper, so that was nice. We even managed to catch a roadie on Parmer and dropped him after a few minutes of “street racing”. A couple wrong turns, but nothing too bad so we averaged a solid 17mpg on that segment. At walnut we stopped to say hi to Beth as we weren’t sure of whether or not we needed to check in with her. She wants to know if we’re done; we only wished – and I let her know we’d be back. Walnut was actually enjoyable. We were in the zone and having fun at that point. It was so nice to be able to pedal and make forward progress (or even coast). Compared to Thumper it was a cakewalk, and the smoother trail was a welcome relief to the road riding and technical features we’d been tackling all day. Dodged a few folks headed the wrong way and took a few wrong turns, but eventually we had it sorted and made it to the Rudy’s BBQ table.

Mmmm Rudy’s. That hit the spot unbelievably well. Thanks so much to Beth for being out there all morning and evening, andthanks to my GF for being there at the finish line. Simply an awesome experience. Adam and I ended up coming in seven minutes behind the three leaders and we smashed my goal of breaking 8 hours (finished in 7:20). Probably one of the most memorably cycling events I’ve ever participated in.

-Josh Blahblah