The Huracan 300 for 2012 is done and gone for this year folks. To all the riders and supporters of this event I stand here in great admiration of you all. That means everyone. Thanks for the effort! (athletes) and Thanks for the support! (friends and family) To those that finished, to those that had the guts to give this event their best and came up a little short, to those that registered and couldn’t quite make it, and lastly to those that love this kind of challenge but maybe can’t see themselves doing it, I say to you… get out there and ride your bike- get stronger- get motivated and get to the start line. You will really appreciate the effort and experience. I know I did. I am still savoring the long lasting effects of a long and tedious ride filled with dramatic flashes of fierce competitive spirits and repetitious minute irritants constantly scratching away at ones psyche. This event has uncovered more truths from within and reminds me of how much I truly love to get out and just ride my bike with friends and other great spirits I haven’t had the opportunity to connect with yet.
The Huracan 300 this year started with a bang. A fellow by the name of Chris from Virginia and Cade out of Gainesville, Fl.(Super Cool Bike shop) thought it would be cool to giddy up from the word go. I figured why not throw a monkey wrench in the plans of myself and others and roll with these two. I had a great plan of slow and steady with lots of patience and wisdom etc. Ha what a joke. Not two minutes into it and I decide what the heck lets just go wide open till something fun happens type deal. Why not? I can’t stop grinning for 5 miles knowing the world of hurt I just invited into my life.
Speaking of hurt. About 30 miles in… Chris, Cade and myself are headed east on the forest service road headed towards the old naval bombing site when Jason Murrell (Scott’s Bikes) Ocoee, TN and Shey Lindner (C-town Bikes) Conyers, GA. come freight training up from behind wearing appreciative smiles from the pace of the last 30 or so miles (or was it … nice one buddy…. now it’s our turn to turn the screws of pain smiles?) …so smiles all round ! It’s now five rolling down the road. Then after a while it became four folks. Then Three. The pace remained quick for the first 100 plus miles or so and I was the first to tap out between Shey, Jason and myself. Up to this point we all shared the pacemaking, route finding etc. with due diligence and respect. Jason Murrell and Shey Lindner are top notch athletes with great sportsmanship and integrity. It was a real pleasure to ride with them. And then there were two. Chad=0, Shey/Jason=1
Somewhere after Apopka Preserve…So I find myself nursing a rear flat tire while climbing some hills in Clermont, FL. shortly after saying goodbye to my two riding partners. I missed a turn and added 6 miles of hills to the route. Oh Joy! another gross error resulting in mucho time burned up by poor navigation. By now the legs are talking. The feet are talking. The part of your body that interfaces with the bike seat are talking the Most I think. My hands from not wearing gloves due to leaving them in the car are talking…. you get the picture. So after squirming around on a rear tire with 12 psi in it, I decided to invest half of the flat repair kit I’m carrying to fix it. (Along comes Murphy) I “fix” the flat and I’m off! Not 10 miles down the road I feel a major squishy weird feeling rear tire again! oh boy, not good. Bombing down sweet downhill sections of this ride at 30 plus with a flat is really COOL! sarcasm kids, sarcasm… anyway ride this thing like this for 10 miles or so and I pump the tire up at a 7-11 and buy some food at a local store. Daydream walking around doop to doop dee dooooooop deeeee doooop!!!!! oh yeah we are “racing” our bikes I have to remind myself. Shoot. GET BACK ON YOUR BIKE!!! GET BACK YOU FOOL!!!!!!!! I sleepily remount my steed and pedal off into the great void beyond.
Attempt number three to repair flat tire. So I notice that I’m currently in third position getting near the half way point and I’ve been rolling on a flat tire for yet another 15 miles or so. I realize that there are two riders approaching in the distance and they are closing the distance between us every time I stop and mess with this tire. I choose to just keep nursing this flat till I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it happens shortly after in the dark in an orange grove with mosquitoes so thick I imagine letting them suck enough of my blood to just simply lift me in the air and like a cool breeze just surf the winds to the finish on my new waterless, foodless, bloodless body. FOCUS. FOCUS. You’re fixing a flat I say out loud to help remember what I’m doing out here by myself in the dark with my new friends the mosquito SWARM sampling every section of my body like butchers at the meat shop choosing how to dismantle this massive meal they found. Ahhhhhhh you little rat bas#$@##^@&&^^#& I call out in the dark to no one listening swatting wildly in all directions with my micro pump as the weapon of choice with no avail. I found that if I walked in figure 8′s at a fast pace while trying to seat a massive balloon wire bead s.o.b tire on my rim that the bites were reduced by 20% or so. Attempt # 38 on the tire before it falls off rim again…. the fog/sleep stare creeps in as I am circle 8 racing with myself in the sand walking faster and faster sinking deeper and deeper trying to out run these biting bastards in my MTB shoes burning a now shin deep trench into the soft sand holding an ultra micro super mini bike pump (smaller than pinky finger, good for??), two tire levers, a tube, a tire, a rim…….as I speed shuffle in circles my thoughts wonder…. the fog thickens… Lets see thats 1 million skeeters minus 20% from increased wind velocity plus….. I start to wonder with my mind again…. Shoot FOCUS. Fix your tire or DIE out here from blood loss I think. About this time Chris from Virginia and Kelly from the Carolinas rolls by. Great, I think. just lost a lot a time in the bike repair business out here. They say hi and roll on into the dark chatting it up. I want to be with them. Looks like me and the tire have a few rounds still left to fight.
DING DING ….. in this corner at 2 and a half pounds!!!!!!! I finally get the wheel on. I ain’t gonna lie. My eyes may have miffed a tear in there somewhere accompanied by an inaudible low moan/high whine mumbled whimper joined by quivering lower lip. I can’t be sure but it most likely was the running sunblock in my eyes, dirt, ddt, allergies or whatever. Sooooo the good news is… the tire is on the rim and on the bike. The bad news is that the tube has just enough air to give it “shape” = maybe 14 psi. This also means the tire is not seated on the rim fully, also all co2 cartridges are empty and all tubes used up and no working pump either. In other words dead in the water if anything happens to this bike. So while keeping fingers crossed while riding I look back at the egg that is doing the job as my new rear wheel flopping and bouncing down the path with every pedal stroke. flop, flop, ping, whop, wop, fffloopp, flop…… I am happily racing away in the darkness from the death from above swarm of mosquitoes hot on my trail on my newly fixed tire! woo hoo. wop wop wop I “speed” down the path. bounce, bounce bounce, bounce this thing was shaped like an egg and was egging me to death and screwing with my guts big time. I can attest that after several hours of real world Mtb testing that the round shape of a tire beats the oval shape hands down. Rest easy tire makers rest easy. Man this is FUN! I remind myself as I force back the vomit and bile every fifteen times the wheel turns over. Flop Flop bounce llloppp mmmmffffgghhff ……swallow…. gulp…… ugghhhh the gravelling figure creeps into the distance.
Somewhere near the first logging road filled with sand past Lake Louisa I decide I must stop and sleep to “reboot the hard drive”. As soon as I stopped the bike I fell asleep for a lightning fast 5 or 6 hours before remounting the Moots with surprising amounts of motivation and strength. So for breakfast I push on the biggest gear possible through this soft sand redeeming myself from last nights bout with Murphy’s Law. Day two was just incredible. I was able to choose a speed and sustain it with vigor much to the delight of my recently damaged ego thanks to my warrior friends out on the course riding their souls from their bodies. After a few hours of ground pounding I stopped for breakfast.
Breakfast was divine. I sat at a bar stool and still had my helmet on with lights attached. Dirty, tired, sweaty, looked pretty rough I’m guessing by the sparing, careful looks from my bar mates. I really don’t think anyone had the courage to try and start that odd conversation. I don’t blame them. I would have left me alone too. I looked as though I just unearthed myself from a grave site. So after leisurely enjoying an incredible breakfast I headed north for home knowing maybe a hundred or so miles left in the race. Cool I thought… It’ll be sweet to make it home for dinner with the boys and talk about the crazy encounters we all ran into congratulating everyone for a job well done.
The Withlacoochee Trail was a blast. I managed to roll into a massive herd of cyclists at a weekend biking festival of some kind. I stopped and asked if a rider could snap a photo of me and the bike to prove I actually do ride a bike sometimes. I seem to be camera shy and love taking pictures of rides without me in any of the pictures.
Warning! attempt at humor eminent:
I said thanks and rolled out to do secret “battles” with unsuspecting grand mothers, fathers, kids, dogs, really anyone I could hunt down and pass with ego boosting super power to the last leg of the race. I must have “picked” off hundreds of them! Boy was momma gonna be proud. The euphoric high sustained from crushing so many cyclists in such a short time made it hard for me to hold a straight line cruising down the path in the aero position of awesomeness- (nose high in the air, smiling ear to ear with victorious smite, chest puffed out proudly- not too proudly to increase wind resistance mind you, arms thrust pridefully strong towards the sky.) Weaving wildly up the path I read a sign describing the event as a “teach your kid to ride” or ” 5 k’s with the grandparents” or something like that…. I’m pretty sure I was really low on sugar at this point. But hey, a win is a win!……… right?
The next stop at a gas station was a good one. Friendly folks with a sense of humor and all the groceries a guy could eat. I love eating. So with the brain back in working order and the body obeying all commands I make it to the section of Halpata Preserve. This is the point of the route that turns east for home. Feeling like a horse that senses the barn is near I keep the speed as high as possible.
The journey home eastward got fuzzy with tight twisty single track bits getting ever so technical with little switchbacks zig zagging back and forth for a long time. The flowing fast parts of this section were absolutely awesome to ride at speed. Then on to the job of picking through to slow ziggy stuff then back to warp speed testing tire adhesiveness with the wet pine straw and sometimes “icy” slick forest floor. The end was near I could tell by my gps that it was going to be over soon and I had the feeling of wishing it would go on for a little longer just to stay in this cool state of mind I seemed to be in. I also was really proud of everyone that stayed in the fight and stayed on course for this years Huracan 300. Outstanding job to everyone out there. I really was glad to reach the camp site and finish line for this race. All I could think of was a hot shower, a hot meal, and a warm bed. One out of three ain’t bad. The shower was stolen from me by some dude that figured he would go for the ultra endurance record for excessive hot water wasting while “showering” record. Apparently he shattered the old hot water use record for some time because I barely made it to the shower stall creeping through the scalding hot steamy cloud of his post record breaking shower bumping blindly into doors and walls undetected by deadened senses. Once in the shower I was not greeted with the warm embrace of cleansing hot water saying “welcome home friend” ……no, this was not to be. Instead I was greeting with a stream of clear piercing ice shards of water screaming out to say “HERE’S YOUR WATER YOU PANSY!!!! NOW GET A SHOWER ALREADY AND SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP!!!!!!
No worries I smiled as the gooseflesh bunched up electrifing my remaining nerve endings with searing discomfort. Ahhhhhh the life! I muster up a quiet barely discernible ”Thank You Sir May I Have Another” with that, a broad grin of deep content filled my soul and I can’t stop grinning as I scrub off 300 miles of dirt, blood, sweat, bug guts, spider webs, stingers, thorns, sharp fuzzy unknowns, etc. from my legs and body.
After the shower I get in the car and make it to the local steak house in Ocala and proceed to destroy the steak, potato, vegetable, and massive dessert meal placed in front of me. Once finished the waitress says ” I can’t believe you ate all that food!” I returned a contented smile and returned to the camp site for a comfy night of sleep in my bed of wet pine straw and drizzling rain through my already wet bug bivy and sleeping bag waiting for me. Ahhhh the life, I remind myself. It really doesn’t get any better than this, I think, as I fall fast asleep in my soggy cocoon.
And you thought the ride was long huh?
Congrats to all. Thanks to the folks watching and cheering for us on the route. It was a really great time and I look forward to the next one. Happy trails everyone!