Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dirt, Sweat, and Gears 12-Hour race report :: Angela Brown

(The Muddy Sisters on the podium, minus one member. All photos courtesy Clay, except bottom, courtesy Gary Collins )

(above: Angela talks with Sandra Tomlinson before the race start)

Wow! What a party and what a weekend! I signed up for the Dirt Sweat and Gears 12 Hour race back in December, suckering Hope Hayes of Team Wood n Wave into a two-woman amateur team. In good weather, this would have been a decent idea on the 10-mile loop. Exhausting for two people riding 12 hours, but doable. After the deluge of rain Friday night and Saturday morning, it turned into downright silly. So, after a quick conference with the other two-woman team we knew at the race, we instigated a merger. The Mud Bunnies and the Twisted Sister teams became the Muddy Sisters…..saving our sanity and our bodies.

The race began with a shotgun start and a run-up to the bikes. Since I had been giving Hope lip a few weeks earlier about how she needed to consider adding running into her training, that made me a shoe-in to do the run up. BLAM! Off we went. I had tied a pink bandana to my bike and went straight for it, and the line of racers wound around the field and into the woods….

…and then came to a screeching halt. What in the world?
(This is what the first few miles of the first lap looked like...hike a bike!)

Evidently, the soil around the course in Fayetteville, TN, has a good bit of clay in it, as I came to realize. The line stopped because people had mud-packed wheels grinding to a halt in the thick mud. This was beyond Chickasaw and Canal Loop mud, the two other XC mud races I had just completed. This was PLAY DOUGH. I mean, for crying out loud, kids were making fake turds out of the stuff later in the day and throwing them at each other. When packed, it hung together like nothing I’ve ever seen.
(me, after the first lap, on my way to a short nap)

The lap that should have been 1.5 hours or less stretched into 2 hours and 17 minutes of pep talk and mechanical discoveries. The routine became: hop on, roll until your wheels clog, get off, find a good stick, dig the mud out of your cleats, pedals fork and tires, get rolling again, repeat. I saw a few who had both wheels that wouldn’t turn, and one guy with his bike on his shoulders. My loop eventually turned into hike-a-bike, with about 4 miles of the hilly 10 being me walking my bike with the front wheel off the ground because the back wouldn’t clog as often.

Finally, I made it out and tagged the next team member, washed my bike and stuff, changed clothes and napped on a hay bale.

When my next lap came around, it was right at 1:33. That’s more like it. The first one cooked me so bad that there was no hope for another in the window we had left to complete the race. Our team completed a total of 6 laps on the course….not as high as I had hoped, but high enough to place 20 out of 25…and we were the only all-woman team at Dirt, Sweat and Gears!

After I completed my lap, I went back to talk to Paul, the Ellsworth rep who had approached me earlier because I had on my Velo Bella kit. He invited me over to hang out at Monique "Pua" Sawicki’s tent and watch her pit change. The woman is an animal! She completed 9 laps on the course to win the women’s Solo Pro division. I didn’t get a pic with her later because I was too shy. I really should have.
(Me, in shock, accepting my signed Gary Fisher frame from the man himself!)

After the race, the podium and prizes started. I walked away with one of the biggies…a Gary Fisher frame signed by the man himself! I accepted my frame and shook hands with the legend. Our team also got called up on the podium for a special box o’ goodies. We registered thinking there would be a 4 woman team division, but 20 out of 25 in the 4 person team division wasn’t bad, considering that one team member left early and our strongest one couldn’t make it because of a family emergency.

Interested in coming next year? Check out DirtSweatandGears.com.