Started mountain biking right before EB last year, too chicken to do it
First EB ride this year
I and one other were the only ones to stop at all the lights/stop signs
Last to enter greenbelt
Shock had no air, which made greenbelt suck. Luckily it was a very easy route
Passed maybe 15-20 on the greenbelt
Guy at the top of HOL had a pump, also thanks trail angels!!
Passed maybe 10 at city park, thanks trail angels!!
Passed 10 at thumper, thanks trail angels!
Finished @ 6:09pm 11.5 hours
Should have pushed a little harder
Next year wont stop at lights/stop signs (think Ill get 30 minutes there).
Did good with endurolytes and nutrition every hour
I started mountain biking august of last year because I needed a new sport. I had played ultimate frisbee for years, but in my old age I started to sprain ankles almost every year which took me out for an entire season. I started to windsurf and then kitesurf, but the wind was too inconsistent to be my main exercise. Mountain biking is really compatible with kids and life because you can go whenever you have a small window of opportunity, even if it isnt quite as fun as kitesurfing.
In august of last year, my neighbor gave me his 2000 gary fisher joshua F3. He said he never liked the geometry. I have a habit of spending a lot of $ on new hobbies, so these days I get used equipment first and then set a goal to use it a certain number of times before I get to buy something new.
My target for mountain biking was 10 rides/month for 3 months. I was immediately addicted and by september I had already gotten my 30 rides in. I did some research and bought a santa cruz tallboy ltc at a great price ($3500!). Luckily for me my wife had dated a college competitive mountain biker at UCSB and so didn’t blink at the price tag.
As my neighbor indicated, the gary fisher was a terrible bike. My main trail was thumper and I could barely do a mile in 30 minutes. Lots of endos, crashes etc. Im stubborn and this just made me want to mountain bike even more. The new bike was truly a cheater bike. On the first ride I was able to do in about 10 minutes what used to take me 30 minutes and I finished thumper for the first time.
I was heavily addicted, I started skipping work to ride in the mornings and I was doing around 4 rides a week. I spent a ton of money upgrading parts on the bike and was reading the forums constantly to learn more.
In late october I heard about an event called the enchilada buffet, I wanted to do it, but didn’t think I was ready. I made it a goal to ride next year. The day of the 2012 race, I rode thumper with EB riders and helped a few people out on the trail. It was weird meeting some of those people this year who remembered me. Unfortunately I have a terrible memory so didnt really remember anyone.
After the 2012 EB I posted on mojo that I wanted to start prepping for the EB now, some people said that 2-3 months of prep was plenty. I decided since I was a novice I would need the whole year. Over the next year I made sure that almost all my rides were EB routes, then in the last 3 months I would work on fitness. I have a really bad memory so it takes me at least 10 rides per trail for me to not get lost. Sometimes I still miss the turn into my cul de sac because I dont recognize it. I know you are thinking early stage alzheimers but Ive always been that way with recognizing things.
I ended up having to take 4 months off from EB riding during the summer for work while I was in california although I did ride a lot of rides with big elevation. So Cal trails are basically smooth fireroads with 3500 ft of elevation every 10-12 miles or so. When I came back in late august I learned that austin mountain biking isnt as easy as riding a bike. I felt like I was starting over and I couldn’t clear many things that were easy just 4 months earlier. I was a little worried as I only had about a month and a half to prepare.
I had basically 5 weeks. I made a plan to do three 1-2 hour rides a week and one longer ride each week. The long rides would start at 45 miles (eb vegetarian) and increase 5 miles a week to 70 miles in the last week (EB vegetarian plus trails). I was also bummed that instead of the old greenbelt route that I had painstakingly learned and rode (a lot) there was a new route that I would have to learn and probably get lost on.
With work and the rain, I ended up only getting 2 short rides/week in, and I missed one long ride. My last ride the weekend before the EB was supposed to be 65 miles (instead of the original 70). The greenbelt was pretty much destroyed and hiking/wading through a bunch of crap sapped a lot of energy and motivation (wet shammy/socks) so I only did 58 miles on my last long training ride.
The first long ride was 45 miles and was the EB road route minus st eds and city park road sections. I got lost a bunch so it ended up being 48 miles. It took 6.5 hours and I was sore for 5 days. I cramped on jester and had to stop. I also had to stop at the bottom of yaupon for maybe 20 minutes to work out cramps. The kind where you cant rest in any position because random muscles are seizing. The next week I did the same ride, but improved the time to 5 hours. I also only had minor cramps on yaupon. The third week I added in the city park road portion and had big cramping on yaupon. I skipped the 4th week because of rain. The 5th week I added walnut but ended up dropping the city park portion because hiking through the greenbelt had taken a lot out of me.
Going into the EB I didn’t feel well prepared. I counted the times for the various segments and thought I could do it between 12 and 13 hours. Mainly I wanted to finish before it got dark.
The night before the ride, my neighbor asked if he and another guy could ride with me. My neighbor won the tmbra cat 2 series in his age group, so I was like, Im not riding with you. Turns out he just wanted a ride to walnut. He has ridden the EB up to thumper 3 times but isnt that interested in finishing. His plan was to ride to thumper and stop there and he didn’t want to leave his car at walnut (thumper is in our backyards).
I woke up around 5:45, got my stuff together, ate a PBJ, and loaded up the truck with the 3 bikes (mine + 2 car poolers). One of the guys was trials John. He’s the guy that when people fail to clean a ledge up a hill can just hop hop hop without putting a foot down. Then when they move out of the way he can finish riding it. The temp was a lot warmer than I expected which meant the afternoon wouldn’t be as cool as I had hoped.
We got to walnut around 6:15 and parking was a lot less full than I expected, I found a spot easily in the dirt overflow lot next to the big lot. Unloaded the truck and discovered that my cheap chinese knockoff magicshine LED light didn’t work anymore. That was going to really suck. Just riding around in the dark I hit the curb with my pedal which was weird.
I had actually hoped to ride with my neighbor and a couple of others down to the GB but couldn’t find them in the dark after I went to go register. I knew all the trails so I elected to put one of the green stickers on my helmet. I figured Id be riding in the back with all the slow or lost people so I could be helpful. I went to the back of the pack and hoped that there would be enough light from the other riders to see.
At 6:45 we started off and I was pretty much the last of the pack, as others reported it is surreal to be taking off in the dark lit only by the glow of a hundred tiny headlamps. I usually like to ride with groups in the back because I hate to be the person to slow people down. Eventually things sort themselves out. Riding without a light was really hard, I could see things in the distance lit by everyones lights, but lost them at around 5-6 feet in front of me. It was just the service road and shady springs, but I realized I couldn’t really see any ruts, roots or rocks.
At the creek crossing I couldnt see the shallow spots to cross. I went left which I know is shallow enough to ride, but ended up getting my feet soaked anyway. Off to the right groups of people were hike a biking across the creek. I only brought one spare pair of socks and didn’t expect to get my feet wet so early so I didn’t change. We rode up to the shady springs branch and people were stopped in front of me. It turns out person at the front of the group slowed down to let people catch up, but then lost the main pack.
I direct them up the trail to the left, and within 15 seconds realize it is the wrong way (everything looks different in the dark). We head back and take the right fork and are back on track. We made it out of walnut without further incident, but the main pack was long gone. Im with a group of about 8 riders. I assure them we can catch up because of lights. We take a leisurely pace, but some of the guys race ahead to try to catch up to the main group. Apparently Im the only one that stops at lights/stop signs so eventually I ended up with one other guy that also stopped at lights/signs. At 183/ohlen we catch up to a group of 20-30 riders and get through the intersection. Im still stopping at stop signs etc so get a bit further behind.
The shoal creek/anderson ln light is pretty long and there is traffic so most riders stopped. I catch up to a group of maybe 30 or more riders and ride with them for awhile. I took a few pictures of the group with my phone, but it was still too dark. At 38th street I missed the light and waited for a long time with a few others. I think this is where I really lost the group. After 38th I really only saw a few riders here and there.
I miss the light to enter butler park so end up waiting. Once I get going again, I notice a thunk as I bunny hop the curb. It turns out my shock is mostly out of air and is completely packed down. Im like WTF, it was fine a week ago. Im not sure what to do but I figure Ill just ride and ask people if anyone has a shock pump and hope it is just a slow leak. Even if it destroys my shock Im not going to bail.
I get to the greenbelt (I think at around 8:15) with maybe 5-6 other riders who were not certain of the route in butler park (none of them has a shock pump). We ride the green belt and start catching up to other people (none of whom has a shock pump). Even on the main trail I realize that without a shock Im pedal striking every single medium size rock and root. When I hit my pedal at the start I should have noticed the problem and at least tried to pump up my shock. I also noticed that my drive train is acting up I guess because it isnt meant to be ridden with the shock completely compressed.
I endo going over a 1.5 foot rock drop when I pedal strike which completely stops my momentum and packs down my fork, it didn’t hurt but was embarrassing. I fail to clean the climb with all the roots after the underpass when my pedal hits a root and stops me. I do think Im getting used to the constant pedal strikes and try to pedal a little lighter to shrug off pedal strikes.
People are walking elephants butt so I wait for them (none of them has a shock pump). People are walking the small ledge that normally feeds the creek crossing before the chain. Im waiting about 20 feet in front of the drop so I can ride it, 3 guys behind me get in front of me and proceed to walk the drop. That was annoying.
I walk the chain, with a group of maybe 5 riders. I keep up because I don’t actually know where the entrance to pump house is. The ride up pump house is much easier than either of the planned routes, but much less fun than riding it down. Going up pump house a couple of guys suggest I go to texas cycle works. Im pretty sure Ill barely finish the ride so Im not sure I want to take a detour to the bike shop. I decide to ride on.
At the top of pumphouse there is a guy with a flat who is going to bail (does not have a shock pump). I offer him a tube (like so many have done for me) but he says he put a tube in and flatted it (I know that feeling).I feel bad that I didn’t offer a few more times (bad karma I know). I show his friend how to get to moonshadow and tell him to go ahead since he is soft pedaling waiting for me to catch up to show him the route. I turn onto the gravel path and ride for a bit, I ride past the turnoff to powerline and stop to call my wife to see if she can bring my shock pump to me at the top of the HOL. She says she cant, but maybe later (ballet austin observation day). I briefly regret not watching my 5 yo daughter dance ballet today. Someone passes me going towards powerline and says Im going the wrong way, so I hang up midsentence and try to follow, but the person is long gone.
I go the right way, take a right turn instead of going straight, my wife calls me and I tell her I want her to meet me later she has the pump so will after 10am. While Im stopped people go the correct way so I go back and follow them (so much for my green sticker, but I always go up mulch and jedi hardly ever down). They are walking some climbs so I ask if I can pass (no shock pump). Im not sure if I see them again or not. I get to the gravel pit and ride down jedi/mulch. I try to baby my shock but it is bottoming out on the bigger hits.
I ride across the falls and it is a lot deeper than I though so my feet are completely soaked now. There are 5-6 guys on the other side changing socks, I decide to just ride on and up the hill of life, that was an easy way to pass a few people. At this point Im feeling ok, but I keep pedal striking on all the ledges at the HOL, so I ride, pedal strike, walk, ride pedal strike walk. The second section is better and at least I can look like I rode my way out.
At the top Im surprised that there is nutrition, water and lube! I realize I had forgotten to bring lube and after the two water crossings my chain was making noise. I grab 2 gus for later, eat one, lube my chain, complain about my shock and a guy named Steel says he has one! I pump my shock and hope the leak is slow. Turns out my shock held for the rest of the day. Steel was a lifesaver! I pump my shock and take off. The drivetrain is running much smoother with the shock pumped up. Im not that tired yet. All in I think I passed about 15-20 people in the greenbelt.
Apparently Im really slow on the road. Steel and his girl friend blow by me and are long gone on 360. A few others pass me on 360. Someday maybe Ill be fast on the road. I catch up to a couple of riders who passed me on 360 at the courtyard light. I ride the whole thing, but they ride faster so they are gone. There is one other rider in an austin bikes kit who ends up walking about halfway up, but still goes up going about the same speed as me. I see the austin bikes guy a few more times. I notice that my cranks have started to honk like a goose. It is very annoying. Every pedal stroke is a loud *honk*. The drive train also is not liking some of the gears, especially the easy ones. I think I probably bent it in the greenbelt, maybe when I endoed.
On city park road I see the leaders coming down the road. I didn’t check the time but afterwards people told me the leaders hit thumper at 10:30, so Im thinking they actually werent the leaders. I boggle at how fast the leaders are. I see a lot of people going the other direction. I wave at them, but secretly curse at them. At city park the two guys that rode with me to walnut are just leaving city park.
Im good on nutrition so head straight into city park. Im starting to feel tired so rather than ride the ups I mostly walk the bigger climbs and ledges. I also walk 2-3 of the bigger drops just in case. 1 person passed me in city park and I passed maybe 8 people. A normal lap takes about an hour, I think I took about 1.5 hours. On the way out I take my main break. I eat my pbj and pringles lunch, load up on water, eat some endurolytes, drink a couple gatorades and make a donation to the trail angels (life savers for sure!). So far I ate maybe 3 gus, a pbj, pringles and probably 9 endurolytes. This is my longest break and it is like an ultimate frisbee reunion. Vanessa is one of the trail angels and chris stone is there too. The trail angels say maybe 25 or was it 50 people have come through that they logged. In any case I was surprised because I hadnt passed that many people. I think maybe a lot of people got lost in the greenbelt because of the last minute route change.
On city park road, steel and his girlfriend catch up to me and pass me along with an older guy and a younger guy in a blue kit (father and son?) which I think is for a high school racing team (?) they don’t look tired at all, I really hate people who don’t look tired. Blue kit, dad and I just miss the 2222 light.
I think all the people that pass me on city park stop at jester mart. Even though there wasn’t supposed to be a stop there, it looks like there is. My brain is a bit foggy, but I recall seeing people sitting in camp chairs. I did the big stop at city park so didn’t need to stop at jester to refuel. My derailleur is not shifting right so I do stop to bend the hanger and it starts working right, so I continue straight up jester. I do jester without any problem but I just miss the light at the bottom of lakewood (story of my day!), I want to say I saw austin bikes again going up, but I am probably misremembering.
I wait awhile at the lakewood light and as I startup blue kit and dad pass me and haul down 360. I catch them again while they are waiting at the spicewood springs light. Before I get to the light I see a couple of people blow through the light even with lots of 360 oncoming traffic. No wonder cyclists get hit. At our pace it doesn’t seem like there is any point at blowing through lights. Ive probably spent 30 minutes of my ride at lights since I barely missed every single of the long ones.
I hate the spicewood springs portion, I live in the area and cant believe more cyclists havent been hit. My wife always asks if I have upped my life insurance when I say Im road riding. Two guys, (dad and blue kit ?)are stopped at yaupon because they arent sure what to do. I tell them the entrance to st eds is pretty obvious. They are faster than me so I tell them to ride ahead. A guy in orange (?) passes me. I wonder why Im so damn slow on the road.. They are just a bit ahead and confirm that they are at the right turn. The guy in orange passed the turn and turns into the park entrance with a sign. I yell out but he doesn’t hear me. We head up and I tell them to go ahead. Part of the way I catch up to them at one of the intersections and tell them it is all the way to the top. I don’t see them again after that. St eds is smooth enough that I ride the whole climb. The rest is uneventful. I do walk the roots along the cliff because I would hate to do something stupid and fall off the cliff.
I get back to yaupon and call my wife to tell her to meet me at the thumper entrance. While Im on the phone austin bikes passes me and I follow. My wife drives down the hill and takes pictures. My 5 year old tells me I should stand to do the climb.. Part of the way austin bikes starts to walk, but still is going the same speed as me.
Cindy and crew are at the entrance to thumper. Im doing good on water so don’t add any, id rather ride thumper a little lighter anyway. I drink a few gatorades and eat some cheetos then head into thumper after maybe a 10 minute stop. Some people recognize me but frankly I don’t remember anyone except george (who doesn’t know me). Thumper is practically my backyard so I know it really well, but Im pretty tired at this point. I want to save myself so I walk a lot of the tough climbs. One huge advantage is I know when to get back on and ride and when there is another climb right around the corner.
I only pass maybe 4 people on thumper but ride with a few others to help them find their way out. Thumper is in great shape and I wish I had ridden more of it. Right before the wall we see someone going the wrong way. He is really pissed at his garmin and says he has been in thumper for 45 minutes lost. We probably have another 30 minutes to go so if he rides with us he should be ok. He keeps going the other direction. I realize I should have told him to just go up the hill 10 feet to a parallel trail which is around 15 minutes from the start. I ride the wall and almost bite it, I walk all 4 zs, walk the powerline segment and walk a few of the switchbacks up easy ending. I think I meet kent (and one other) at the start of easy ending.
Overall it took about 1.5 hours to ride thumper. It usually takes me about an hour on a good day.
On the way out I don’t stop, the cheering is great for morale, it briefly crosses my mind to get water, but I figure I can get more at walnut. Im definitely tired. I didn’t pay that close attention but I think there were maybe 5-6 people stopped at the entrance, but it was hard to tell. I think I passed about 9 people at thumper.
On yaupon 3 people pass me riding *much* faster than me. I am just really damn slow. Im not cramping but definitely feel worn out. At this point this is the longest ride I ever have done. My prior longest was the 55 mile preride the week before.
Parmer is uneventful, but I do run out of water as I turn onto riata trace. Im surprised I don’t see the people who passed me on yaupon in the distance. At least no one passes me on parmer.
At walnut everyone asks me if I just finished, bummer, I still have walnut to do. I think about having a beer but decide to wait.. Not sure why but I stick it in granny and ride walnut, there shouldn’t be any reason to baby it. I don’t pass anyone and no one passes me. Really I hardly see anyone on the trail. At the end I limp up the hill and cross the finish line, slowly. 6:09pm, 11.5 hours
In retrospect I think I held too much back. My top priority was finishing and I didn’t want to push too hard, even at the end. I didn’t even have to ride through any significant cramps. I was really tired and my ass was chafed to hell, but overall I didn’t feel too bad. The next day I was pretty sore, but not even close to the worst Ive ever been. Now that Ive finished it once, I wont feel so bad if I try to push harder next year and blow up and DNF.
See you next year!