Monday, October 29, 2012

Sir, come Burke

Since it started three years ago, I'd been interested in riding this thing called "Circumburke". It's in memoriam of Dave Blumenthal, whom I've never met, but seemed like a really cool guy. It goes around Burke Mountain, but doesn't really use Kingdom Trails much. Now that Kingdom Trails is expensive, I've only been there once. The first two years, I guess it was pretty small, but it's quite big now. I think there were like 170 mountain bikers and like 40 runners or so. It is said that the lap was 24 and participants could sign up for one or two. I signed up for two. I've never done a long mountain bike race before (further, I'm not sure if this counted as a race anyway), but I like mountain biking for a long time. Those Cat 2, 'cross race-style mountain biking races are for the birds. I upgraded to Cat 1 this year, but I don't know, mountain bike racing really hasn't interested me much this year. It's a lot less fun than just going for a bike ride. 'Cross racing is different, because it's such a silly concept that it is fun.

Anyway, I think some number of people signed up to do the two lap version, but we weren't organized into groups and there weren't different numbers or anything like that. So, I'll never really know. There was a mass start from the parking lot at the lower Burke lodge. There were a whole bunch of people, but it was pretty easy to get a spot in the first row. The start was medium pace, though I thought a bit fast for having to ride like almost 50 miles. I stayed out in front, because I didn't want to have a lot of traffic going up the singletrack climb to the CCC Road mid-mountain. I had the hole shot for the first quarter mile or so, but the pace was too fast, so I let a few people start passing me as the field stretched. They were going way too fast. I figured they'd either blow up or they were doing only one lap. The grade lessens at the CCC Road, but it gets way rockier. It being fall and all, the rocks were all covered in leaves. It made line selection sort of difficult. It wasn't really bad on the climb, but there's a long descent after all the climbing and I rode it very conservatively because I had no idea where the rocks were and I was riding a rigid bike. Lots of people passed me, but we were only like four miles in, so I wasn't too worried. 

After the leafy descent, the course came out on a dirt road. There was some farm equipment to avoid. After the dirt road, the course went through a really nasty bog. On the second lap, I ran sections of it because it was so gross after all the riders going through. Eventually, I arrived at the singletrack section. It was super twisty and loamy and went on for a long time. I got stuck in there with a bunch of super aggressive weirdos, which was pretty unpleasant and put me in sort of a sour mood. Eventually, we got out of the singletrack at some point after the first aid station. That gave way to the Gold Trail and North Pasture Trail, which were pleasant forest roads except for terrible water bars. I rode with this guy on a nice singlespeed for awhile, who was also a pretty nice guy. He wrote a blog post about the event, too; I'm the guy on the rigid green bike. Eventually, we got to Trillium or some boggy trail or something and he railed this descent and I never saw him again. When the trail came back out to the road, I knew the lap was almost over, so I started to take it easy, because the big climb was coming. Also, my back was starting to hurt something fierce. On one of the water bars, I tried to hit it like a double, but I wasn't going fast enough or I just suck, because I cased it bad. It didn't hurt at first, but it was starting to get pretty painful. When I got to the start finish, there were a bunch of people milling around, so I assumed that they were the one lap people. I saw one other guy starting on lap two and I went that way, too. The first lap was 2:24, I think, so I was well under the cutoff. 

My back was killing me on the climb, though not as much when I stood. So, I stood when I could and spent most of the climb very unhappy. The guy whom I saw start on the second lap had made a wrong turn and I went an got him. I rode ahead of him up Camptown, but I were reconnoitered at the water station on the CCC Road, because I was crouching down trying to stretch my back. He said that he hadn't seen anyone else start lap two and I hadn't either, so we were fairy sure that we were the only two lappers. I found that surprised, especially since it cost more money to sign up for two laps, so why wouldn't you get your money's worth. Anyway, I kept riding and my back loosened up slightly. The singletrack was much more enjoyable in solitude. Eventually on the Gold Trail and on the North Pasture trail, I caught up to some of runners. I was starting to cramp up and by the grace of God or the race organizers, there were pickles at the last aid station! I took a big gulp of pickle juice and my legs were instantly better. I had no idea how that stuff works, so it must be magic. The second lap was more or less like the first, but I rode somewhat slower. The other two lap fellow never caught back up to me. 

It turned out we really were the only people who did the long version, so I finished first out of two. It was fun. For insurance purposes, the event isn't a race, so I'm not sure if I won anything. The weather was really nice and the course had that back country feel so that I like so much about riding in Vermont. My back still hurts, but it responds to ibuprofen. The end.

I had really nice conversation with John McGill, the director. Very cool guy and he wants to put on an ultra cross event up there, which I think would be totally awesome.

Since I didn't take any pictures while I was riding, here are some pictures from canoeing the day before. The top one was from the day of and its beautiful sunrise.


Tony C said...

Swell performance.

Salem and I were thinking of a longish ride this Sunday. Wanna come with? We'll have to see if this storm dumps a lot of rain before deciding on a dirty or ashphalty route.

Brendan said...

Maybe. Johanna and I are going out to Storrs for the harvestfest thing for our CSA. Depending on whether or not I get as drunk as I did last year, I may be in shape to ride.

Or, we might camp there.

Mark said...

Nice writeup. You were keeping a very impressive pace for someone who was going to be doing a second lap. Hope you make it up for the Challenge next year.

Brendan said...

Likewise on your write up.

I hope I can make it next year. I had a great time.

Tony C said...

Take a bike to Storrs and we'll meet you there?