(WARNING – lots of words and pix here. If you just want to scroll through and look at the pix, I won’t be offended.)
Just like my EB ride, it looks like my ride report is going to come in last. I’ve really enjoyed reading what everyone has had to say. So many little tidbits of description of a particular place that triggered my own memory when I passed through there (many hours later).
I knew from last year’s inaugural Enchilada Buffet that there would be some serious fast dudes battling each other for podium finishes, and there would be those of us towards the back of the pack who weren’t even racing but just trying to see if they could finish this dang thing. Nothing made that difference in approach towards the EB more clear to me than someone mentioning being ticked off that Iain had sprinted to make the light onto 360 while they were left to wait and watch him slip away. Now that is a different attitude than I had! Of all the challenges that awaited me on my LONG way to the finish, trying to make a red light was the least of my worries.
One last item before I get into the actual ride part of my report. A heart-felt thank you to all those waiting at Walnut Creek in the rapidly chilling (and dark) evening for me and James to return. It really helped me finish knowing that all y’all were rooting for us to make it, and you didn’t have to, so thanks.
BACKSTORY – I was one of only 2 DNF’s from last year’s EB. I had made it into Thumper, got about 5 minutes in, and my arms/legs just quit when massive cramps took me out. I don’t like to DNF – it’s unpleasant. I especially don’t like waiting 12 months to redeem myself. That monkey has been hanging out back there behind me for a LONG time. So my goal for this year’s EB was quite simply just to finish. I pussed out and put a cassette on the back wheel of my trusty Dambala to help out on the road sections, and would ride conservatively all day (and some of the night, it would turn out…)
OK, the day started just before sunrise in the WC parking lot getting all the gear together.
6:28a – James getting ready while the Todds try to catch a few last seconds of shuteye.
6:29a – I compliment Bill on his flesh-colored armwarmers and righteous Tender Gooch Racing jersey.
6:31a – Sean also looks dapper with his TGR jersey, Pearl Izumi Woolie armwarmers, and f3Designs hat. I’m rocking the same duds today, but somehow Sean pulls it off better than I do.
6:35a – We start queuing up on the start line.
At 6:44a, we officially roll out and begin the 2009 Enchilada Buffet with a nice leisurely-paced ride out the back side of WC and down to Zilker via Shoal Creek. We can’t find Fixie Todd after a few minutes, and are hoping he hasn’t had a mechanical. Somehow SSer-extraordinaire duo Greg and Jeff, who have already popped open a beer or 2 at this hour, end up leading us on some crazy-ass route under Mopac via Windsor and down the Mopac feeder road to Lake Austin. Whatever, we make it.
Once we hit Barton Springs, the hard dudes keep rolling right onto the main trail while the rest of us use the facilities. Jeff and Greg, hard dudes of another type altogether, have another beer (I think Bill got to share a bit, too). Strong work, men.
It’s not too long on the BCGB main trail, on one of the early rock gardens, that my muddy front wheel just slips right off a rock and I am immediately on my side. Stuck my left hand down to catch the fall and bruised the crap out of the meat of my left hand, with shooting pain from my hand down my ring/pinky fingers. Dammit, I haven’t fallen on something that easy in ages, and now I get to ride all day like this? Ibuprofen would help a bit, I hoped…
We roll up on the first creek crossing, and I can’t believe how many people are stopping to take off their shoes and socks. I like dry feet, too, but that is just way too much trouble. And if you’ve got wool socks on a sunny day, how bad can it be? Unclip, toptube on the shoulder and into the water I go. Wool socks FTW.
8:50a – James, Ron and I roll up on Jeff who has a flat, he thinks from letting his Stans dry out. I loan him my pump so he doesn’t have to use up a CO2, get some nutrition in me as we enjoy the morning. As hard as the whole EB was, it is easy to forget about just what an absolutely gorgeous day we had for riding. I mean, if you were going to pick weather for an all-day ride, you couldn’t have cooked up anything more perfect!
Uneventful ride up Pumphouse (which was in way better shape than the main trail), through TC, down Jedi and Mulch to the Dam. I say uneventful, but I forgot about the yellowjackets until BigCircles’ writeup reminded me about rolling up on him getting stung. He must’ve been ripe because they were swarming all over him!
9:39a – Crossing the dam…
9:51a – Todd, Todd, and PA Chris coming up the Hill of Life. Well, we are all walking the Hill of Life except Todd on his new True Fab. Might have to get me one of those someday…
James, Ron and I roll uneventfully up 360 along with Antonio.
10:27a – When we reach the bottom of Courtyard, I decide I’m going to spin up until just before my legs and/or lungs start to feel a bit of pain, and then I’m going to walk. I have to conserve myself, and I know I’ll catch back up to Ron and James on CP Rd with my 1×9 anyway. James surprises and impresses the hell out of me by riding his SS up the entire Courtyard and City Park Rd hills without stopping. I can do that on fresh legs on my SS, but not on the EB.
10:33a – Still walking on Courtyard. I too recall laughing at the old Austin Chronicle laying in the gutter with the review of the Hurt Locker! WTF, that movie came out like a full year ago!!?? How is that newspaper not disintegrated by now? Must be a harbinger of the good times still waiting us on our path.
10:34a – I have conquered the mighty Courtyard! Or maybe I didn’t conquer it exactly, but hey I’m on the top and there is an amazing view back down Lake Austin to downtown. Seriously, am I the only one of the whole EB that even turned around to take this view in?
As I take a couple of minutes to enjoy that view, I see Greg kicking ass as he crests the hill, and he follows just behind me down the backside of Courtyard. Once we start back up City Park Rd (and it is here, on City Park Rd, that I hate Courtyard. Not on Courtyard itself, which is a tough climb but one I enjoy – but the fact that you immediately give back your precious elevation knowing full well that you will just as immediately have to gain it all back on CP Rd with the cars buzzing right by you in the climbing lane) I do the same drill here as on Courtyard. Once the heart rate climbs too much, I walk to save myself for the hours ahead.
10:39a – Snapping a few more pix as I walk, here are Greg and Ron just ahead of me on City Park climb. I pass Ron as he takes a cell call, catch up to Greg and we have a nice ride together on CP Rd until I stop at the firehall to liquidate and he keeps rolling.
11:06a – Sensing a pattern here at the CP trailhead. By now, we’ve formed quite the ragtag rear echelon with me, James, PA Chris, fixie Todd, tillerman Todd, and Ron, with an occasional report coming in from the SS duo Greg and Jeff. With their beer-laden backpacks, I begin to think of them as our own EB rescue/reconnaissance St Bernard’s team. I knew if I was truly in need they would have the right medicine to get me going again!
The City Park loop is uneventful, which is nice. I do take us on a wrong turn – I still get turned around where that one bypass section is, along with the rocky climb/descent (Cheesecake, I think?). Whatever, we find Jeff, the Todds and PA Chris up there and get back on track. Jeff says he has hit his limit with being sick all week and has to bow out. I think Antonio gives it up somewhere at the end of CP also.
The roads back to St Ed’s are uneventful. I pull ahead of my SS brethren on 360 when I make the light (hah!) at 2222/360 and they don’t. I see Bill and Druber near Old Spice and Yaupon as they are headed up to Thumper. Ron has to bow out somewhere in here, and I wait for James at the foot of St. Ed’s. James is a smart one and remembers the correct turn at that unmarked fork so we don’t lose any time there.
1:45p – St. Ed’s cliffside view. I enjoy this moment with the gorgeous day, that sweet Waltworks frame, and…gruff but loveable James. I’ll take 2 out of 3 any day.
The Yaupon climb (err, walk) sucks, and it is getting pretty toasty now. We stop to eat some food at the Thumper trailhead, Fixie Todd catches up to us and goes on in for his dose of Thumper, and Sean pops out for his exit as we were getting going.
Thumper sucks (today – normally I actually really like Thumper).
4:00p (ish) – I end up walking about half of Thumper, probably, and James and I complete our lap together in just over 90 minutes. At this point, I am thrilled to have completed Thumper, since this was where I hit my wall last year with massive cramping ending my day. I’m quite wiped out now, but I’m still moving, ssslllooowwwllly. I had run out of water at the end of Thumper and bummed off James, so we will need to refuel. Happily, I live north of Thumper about a mile from the trailhead, so we pull into the house for hydration and to swipe some of the kids’ Halloween loot. No pix of any of Thumper or all the way until the finish because I was really hurting and it was taking all my will to just keep moving.
I have my only moment of doubt for the whole day briefly while at the house standing at the sink filling the Camelbak – I feel a few chills/cold sweats and I can feel my body starting to shutdown and that evil little voice tells me I can just lay down and be done if I want to. Nope, there’s a cooler full of beer and a whole bunch of people back at Walnut Creek wondering what the hell is taking us so long! I go back out in the driveway to check on James, and we do the math and realize that we’ll be able to finish, but with the time change it will be dark by then, so I grab my lights and shove them in my Camelbak. We hit the road and almost immediately I get a second wind and feel great on the entire road section over to Parmer and into Walnut.
James keeps asking if anyone will still be there, and I think he really doubts if there will be more than a handful of faithful still there. I keep telling him I think we’ll have a huge reception waiting for us and man, am I glad to be right about that!
5:35p – I am still feeling very good at this point, James grabs his lights from his car and I hook mine up and we roll off for our WC lap. We knew Fixie Todd was out there somewhere but didn’t think we’d catch him at that point. I feel fine through Log Loops but Tangle/Mark’s Art really starts to suck for me and my lower back. James is killing it, but kind enough to wait on me as I had to stop repeatedly and stretch the back muscles so they wouldn’t cramp up. Cody had promised the last place Lantern Rouge prize to whichever of us hit the parking lot first, and James would have had that hands-down if he wanted to.
6:46p – But no, James is too much of a gentleman for that, he waits for me, we enter the parking lot together and cross the finish line at the same time with hands aloft. Finished – 12h02m.
Last finishers of the 2009 EB. My first finish in the EB. Longest single-day ride (by time) for me. First ride that started before sunup and finished after sundown – which feels particularly good to me in a warped way.
In a reprise of last year’s last-place tie, a chugoff is required to settle the tie. James and I are in no mood for suds quite yet, so we are allowed to pick our respective proxies. Who better to chug a beer than my TGR mate F-Bomb Bill? Well, pretty much anyone, really, that guy sucks at chuggin’ but I just felt like making Bill chug a beer and knew he wouldn’t be able to refuse. Corey begs off, so James finds the remaining TGR Sean to be his proxy, and it is ON.
6:48p – Chug, chug, chug, chug…
Finally, thanks most of all to Cody and Travis for organizing this excellent ride. It wasn’t easy, and you done good.
Right behind them, thanks to James for suffering with me for 12 hours on this thing, and a Hells Yeah! to TGR for a perfect 5 out of 5 finishing the 2009 EB. Now get off my back, you monkey-fighting monkey!