Tree Magnet

Short version:
Solo riding the EB sucks compared to riding with your friends.
BCGB reroute was necessary and appreciated.
Cramped legs because I focused on nutrition but forgot about hydration. Don’t do this.
Thumper would have killed me if my buddies hadn’t showed up and helped me through it. Thanks Coach Todd and Brock.
Finished 2 hours earlier (9:55) than last year but it was a struggle.
Proud to be part of the mountain biking community in this town. Hats off to the EB crew and trail angels…you guys (and girls) rock

Really long version:
I’ve ridden the EB three times now but this was the first time to try it solo. Nothing makes you miss your riding buddies more than 10 hours in the saddle with no one to share the experience. Rolled out of WC around 6:45 with 125+ riders in absolute perfect conditions. The creek crossing at Walnut had a couple of routes that you could hike without getting your feet wet and most riders took those to delay the wet socks as long as possible. It split up the pack but we rejoined by the time we hit the Parkfield light. The pack rolled all the way to Zilker in a mostly uniform fashion and we were passed by a few roadies with crazy WTF looks. One comment here: I understand wanting to stop and answer nature’s call before you hit the trail but do NOT use someone’s front yard. There are tons of other places that won’t cause any problems so pick your tree wisely. Right before we hit Zilker the sun was about to rise right over the city and it was absolutely beautiful. Made me want to stop and soak it in before starting the madness.

Hit the greenbelt around the middle of the pack (I think) and it was immediately obvious that some serious power was unleashed during that last storm. Giant trees and rocks were tossed around but the trail was mostly clear. That little bridge being out by 360 forced a detour but that was the only real impact to the trail that was obvious at that point in the ride. The chain crossing was uneventful and I was enjoying a nice cruise waiting to hit the bottom of Pump House. We passed a few hikers and most were very friendly and all the riders I was with were very courteous. We didn’t have the traditional pack-ups at any features and I don’t know if it was because of my location in the pack or if I just got lucky.

Based on the looks of the trail up SW16 it was a damn good decision to keep us all out of there. Props to the EB team there. The ride up Pump House sucked because I know how much fun it is to come down it. Ended up walking some of it due to traffic but it was all good. Rolled up to Moonshadow and pulled into Travis country and found the first set of soupy trails. There were puddles and some mud but nothing extreme. All the ruts were in the middle of the trail so riders were doing what they were asked to do and I didn’t see much trail damage. Bombed all the way down to by-pass around that hike-a-bike and lost the group I was riding with. They hiked up it and rode around. Had a good time flying down to Mulch and enjoying the dropper post. Hit the drop on Mulch and had to admit that life was pretty damn good. The creek crossing was cold and wet and that HUGE washout by the dam was incredible. I lowered myself into that and made it back out the other side marveling at the power of that moving water. Damn.

HOL was HOL and did it’s damage to my pride and legs. Great stop at the top and appreciated the break before 360. Rode 360 with a few guys on single speeds that were hauling ass and they dropped me like a bad habit. Interestingly the scariest moments came trying to ride around motorcycle cops that had people pulled over on the shoulder. Courtyard wasn’t bad and I cleared it without much trouble. At this point I thought I should have been getting close to running out of water but my pack still felt too heavy. Should have been an alarm there.

City Park road just sucks and is flat ass dangerous. I was glad to get off that without getting knocked into the weeds. Didn’t see the leaders come blasting by in the opposite direction so I was happy about that. I went straight into City Park because I saw the Trail Angels and knew I could refill when I got out. I busted my ass on the same drop that got me last time and ended up losing the water bottle from my pack (found it at the Pivot demo today). Didn’t realize it until later. Passed George in City Park and then both my quads started to cramp at the same time. I stopped and stood over my bike while I tried to figure out how to get off it. I couldn’t bend my legs so I gradually set the bike down and hobbled over to eat my sandwich. Took a salt pill and PBJ and was back at it after a couple of minutes eating. The pit stop at city park was awesome and really very appreciated.

Climbed Jester without stopping at the market and managed to clean it. Felt pretty good at this point. Didn’t kill myself flying down the shitty Beauford pavement and pulled back onto 360 heading for St. Ed’s. The climb at St. Ed’s was tough and I walked it with Hoss. Had fun all the way until halfway up Yaupon. Legs cramped up again and I had to walk up the bottom half. Felt better by the time I hit the side road and was able to ride the rest of the way up to Thumper. I was already preparing to explain to my wife why I was being airlifted out of Thumper when I pulled up to the Trail Angels and saw my riding buddy. He helped me get through Thumper by showing me tricks he learned at the enduro last weekend and basically having fun on his bike. I wasn’t having fun on mine at the moment so it did me good to see that. I was at my physical and mental lowest in Thumper but I made it out. Right before the last switchback we passed a guy going the wrong direction. We told him that but he said he had already dropped in, he wasn’t going back, so he’d just do it backwards. He might still be in there as I type.

When we made it back to the Trail Angels my other buddy was there to ride with me to Walnut. He broke his arm so he couldn’t do the whole thing but it was great to have someone help get me to the finish. Rode WC with a few guys who eventually passed me or got lost behind me. It was a long lap and I never got that second wind of adrenaline that I was expecting.
Pulled into the finish just happy to be done in less than 10 hours. I couldn’t eat anything for a few minutes but I had a beer and some doughnuts as a reward. Great experience, great community, great trails.