Chainbuster Series Finale: 6h of Oak Mountain
Saturday was the last race of the Chainbusters 6/9h series for 2011. Jason and I were the sole FM:Race representatives there, but we were in good company with familar faces from the 5 previous races (Heritage Park, GIHP, Fort Yargo, Tribble Mill, Jack Rabbit). Thanks to timezones, we arrived at the Oak Mountain course 2 hours before the start and got to take our sweet time getting ready, and had plenty of time for Chic-fil-a to digest. The weather was perfect, and we were pretty happy to know that we had 4th for the series locked in even if we didn't race, and we knew there was no way for us to do better than forth.
Per tradition, Jason took the first lap and came in with the faster finishers after about an hour. I've seen Jason having a good time and this was pretty much the opposite. "It's snake creek gap all over again" may have been said, which is not a Good Thing if you remember Bob's race report. We made the exchange and I was off to try and have a better time.
The course has a good bit of rooty climbing, moreso than any of the other course this year, went up "Blood Rock" backwards (not a good thing apparently), and there's a super-technical rocky section on the other side of Blood Rock that was pretty hard and led to at least one person getting a compound fracture in their arm. Volunteers, whom I assume were there to use laser targeting to call in medevac helicopters, were scattered throughout the technical parts. I didn't have a good time my first lap either, so after flying down the road passing people coming into the finish (Why were you all taking it so easy on the road? Big ring it!) it was more caffeine and sugar for me, and I let out a significant number of PSIs from my tires for the next lap.
Jason took care of another lap, and then I was back on the course. Riding a downhill jumpy part on the wheel of a guy on a full suspension bike, both of us catching a little bit of air, the race leader caught up to us and flew by on the right over a tabletop, slinging his bike sideways and catching massive air while smiling and telling us to have a nice ride. Thats the way to pass people! He was easily 10 minutes in front of the next closest guy, and was remembering to have fun. I was having a lot of fun on lap 2, and lap 3 would be even better.
At some point in the day, we figured out that we weren't actually guaranteed 4th place. We thought we needed to get 4th for the face to get 4th in the series, and we were consistently just a few minutes behind the 4th place team, so it looked like we had one placing to fight for if we didn't want to be 5th for the season. At some later point in the day, we found out that drop races had to be races that a team completed. I.E. those super quick guys that did super well in all the races had to drop one of their 20 point races instead of ones they missed. We could podium the series!
I headed out for my last lap intending to pass every single person out there, and got at least a few of them (though looking at the results, they were all in other categories). A single-speeder and I rolled along for a bit, agreeing that it was a "Baby Snake Creek Gap" kind of trail, and I got to the finish with 5 minutes to spare before the end of the race. While hanging out near the finish, a few riders riders came in pretty close: Matt Hammond and Dave Chen, the 6h leaders, finished their last lap with 1.1 seconds to spare.
When the smoke cleared and numbers were tallied, Jason and I had 89 points for the season, putting us in 3rd place out of over 75 teams. We stood on the podium with our plaques, and then piled into the car for the 3h drive back to Atlanta, stopping along the way for some Enchaladas Supreme to fuel us up for the Cyclocross race on Sunday. More on that later!
Thanks Loose Nuts for keeping our bikes in shape throughout the season! 36 hours and close to 350 miles of racing isn't easy on people or equipment.