Saturday, June 12, 2010

Conyers 6 Hour

Yesterday I rode the Chainbuster's 6 hour at Conyers. Conyers is hard. People dread riding there. I dread riding there. There are steep climbs and long stretches of exposed granite. In the summer it's an oven. In '96 they had the first Olympic mountain bike race there, but the trail has changed a lot since then; chunky descents have been cleaned up, fall line climbs have become meandering sidehills. It's not as hard as it has been, but it's still hard.

The trail is tough, but I had bigger problems. My back wheel is still in the shop. The rim came in Friday, but they didn't have time to build it. I went by and grabbed the cassette, rotor and tire, and called everybody I knew, looking for a loaner wheel. Johnny was the first person to actually answer his phone. He didn't have a wheel, but he knew a guy who did...

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Brad Birney:

 Brad Birney


I know Brad from various events and races. He's one of the Gainesville SORBA guys, and he wrenches for Addictive. He was pitting for some friends of his, wasn't racing, and had a wheel I could borrow. He's also a good mechanic and got the parts swapped over quickly and meticulously.

 Working on the Wheel

Yes. I was in business.

The pits were starting to fill out. I took a quick spin around to make sure everything felt right.


I discovered that the route we were riding wasn't the typical route. We weren't even going across the road, no granite, only a few tough climbs. I was prepared for the suffering, but there might not actually be any. Short lap too, 7.6 miles. Hmmm...

I lined up early enough to get a good position; a lesson from Yargo. But, as it turned out, it didn't matter. Somehow, I was a top points contender and got a call-up. It was a little funny though, the experts and team riders were all up there with me. I didn't expect to be on the front for long.

We took off and whoosh, the team riders all mobbed out ahead of us. I grabbed a wheel and got into the woods in good position.

I have a rule for Conyers: you can't fight Conyers. You have to roll, you have to keep speed, you have to take hits and bumps and drops and hold rough lines, and it will wear you out, but if you try to manhandle it, it will wear you out even more. It usually takes a few laps to get my groove, but not this time. I was feeling good and already passing riders who seemed to be unfamiliar with the rule.

In this particular race, Conyers demanded more than just respect. I flatted while descending a section of new trail. Adversity, we meet again. I kept my head. A minute later I was back on the trail and still in good position.

There was some brand new trail out there, with that just-build feel to it, and I think they ran us on some of the horse trail. Whatever we rode, it was fun and flowing. I knew it would be hot later, and energy sapping, so I poured on the power early. Passing, passing, passing. Near the end of the lap, I was catching riders that I'd passed early on. I was back in the race. Rolling through the pits, Russell said it was a fast lap, even with the flat.

Brad topped off both tires in record time. I downed 4 enduralytes and grabbed some blocks, and he was done. It was that fast, or at least it seemed that fast. I still had plenty of gatorade, and I got out right behind the guy that I had chased into the pits. Woohoo! Lap two.

I spent most of lap two channelling my inner tree hugger. Admiring the terrain, becoming one, all that. It sounds silly, but it put me in the right frame of mind. Lap two was pure fun. I had the groove.

The rest of the race was a blur. One long blur. There were 4 climbs per lap. The last climb was out in the open, and very hot, but I've definitely gotten acclimated to the heat. My core muscles took a beating. Conyers is like that. At some point, it rained for 20 minutes, but then it got hot again. Even pitting was a blur. Quickest pits ever. I downed 24oz of gatorade per lap, 3 clif blocks and 4 enduralytes. No cramps, only one twinge. Around lap 6, Brad told me "Let the race come to you." Yes.

I got in 7 laps and felt strong and solid all day. I guess the TNGA is good training for a 6 hour race :) Still, it felt good to stop.


 Dirty Legs

I rode over to hose off, and right as I finished, a bolt of lightning flashed overhead. And me, standing in the middle of a field, drenched, holding a hose attached to a pipe hammered into the ground. Not the best place to be.

I was almost back at the tent when the storm hit.


The 12 hour guys I was hanging out with had a guy out there in it. Matt loaned them his singlespeed so they wouldn't wreck their drivetrains. 20 minutes later it was blue sky again.

I packed up my gear and started heading over to get my truck, when I heard Kenny calling my name from over to the right. "David Muse!" "Yes?" "Come over here, you got third!" I'd checked the standings earlier and was in 4th after 6 laps. I guess the 3rd place guy dropped out or something. Totally unexpected.


I can't take full credit though. Brad's help was invaluable. The wheel, the wrenching, the quick turns, just knowing there's help there if I need it. Invaluable.

It was 98 degrees at 6PM.


I don't even want to know what it was while we were out riding.

The next one is at Tribble Mill. I'm looking forward to it.


  1. Well, the wheel was borrowed - what about the broken shoe? Did you race on it, or get a new pair?

  2. New shoes, forgot to mention that :) I got a new bib too. I usually wear a large, but in Louis Garneau, I had to get an XX-large. I guess the french are small :)