Green Swamp thing March 25th 2018: Chasing Ghost
Singletrack Samurai was born out of passion for struggle. Passion for a good Ole Fashion challenge. Passion for testing limits and pushing boundaries. The first year that the Green Swamp Thing happened, I was unable to attend. The timing was in my favor this year and I jumped at the chance to race my bike.
More times then I care to admit, I pestered the race organizers about the rules. I seriously contemplated going backwards, just to fuck with people. The formar for the category I wanted to race, called for mandatory checkpoints and madantory route adherence. IN the end I opted to follow the direction that the group took, and dismiss any tomfoolery on my part.
Patrick Thompsen and Matt Wiggins, event organizers do a lot in their part of the woods to keep biking diverse, interesting and fun. Words were said at the start by Patrick, and the group was off. Immediately there was a split. I looked around at the riders who were keeping pace with me and verbally engaged them.
I asked, loud enough for everyone to hear,
I have a lead, follow or get the hell out of the way philosophy, so I took off! The Chase group had formed. All of us where working together to try and close the gap.
My Plan was to keep them in sight, but not ride with them. Plan was to make my move when the terrain got shitty. My strong point when racing is to have a solid strategy. My success comes from good planning and execution, not from being the strongest or the fastest.
I backed off a bit. As luck would have it we hit a fence hop and I caught the group. By the time I finished my hop I could see the three leaders had ahead. At the fence hop some riders offered to help me get my bike over, but I am stickler for self supported. I politely declined their offer out of habit. Its my own self imposed ethics about self supported racing, nothing they did wrong, it's a bit much I know. The benefits of Flats and normal shoes, means I was over the fence in a flash and making chase on the three leaders.
I was quickly gapping the folks I hoped the fence with, felt bad, and backed off. It just didn't seem very gentleman like to attack on a fence hop. 20 minutes into the 70 mile race, the three leaders where trying to escape and the chase group had tripled in size.
The first checkpoint was 16 miles in, so I backed off the pace, let another chase group form and instead focused on steady speed and a fast transition thru the Richloam Country Store. My plan worked and I was fourth leaving the store.
There was a long stretgth of pavement that gave way to dirt and it didn't take long for riders to start passing me. Fifth turned to sevent, then eight. I still had the chase group in sight when we made a left into someone's yard. The turn was accurate, the route led you to a back yard and a barbwire fence. A series of corrals with gates.
I had full faith in Matt and Pat's routing so when we were all against a fence, even though the group I was with turned around, I stayed. I stared and racked my brain trying to solve this unexpected puzzle that the route creators had thrown at me.
And then, as if The Great Creator had taken an enormous yellow Highlighter, I could see the series of gates that would get me across this challenge. Open one,close one, open two, close two, open three, close three, hop fence and BOOM I was thru!!!
You came out by an open sided family home and barn and rode out their driveway eventually connecting to a dirt road which led back to the main road. Aint gonna lie, I thought for sure I was the only one who figured out this unexpected puzzle challenge. Figured if I could snag all my pages from each checkpoint (Barkley marathons' scoring method) I by default would WIN!
I stuck to my plan and stayed steady. Wasted a ton of time chasing a non existent checkpoint. Hit the tree and got to the murder cabin.
On my way there I got a little lost and had to battle some thigh cramps. Usual Shit, cycle through the cabin, drank a beer with the fine folks at the checkpoint and shot some beer cans with the BB gun.
After a brief brake, I got back to work. I reminded myself to stay humble, to hold my pace, to back off a bit to keep the cramps away. I should of packed some mustard packets to fight the cramping, but instead used my Flask of Angels envy whiskey. Anytime I would cramp, I would take a sip and it would go away. Ride, repeat.
Turns out the quarry checkpoint was not even set up, and once gain lost a ton of time searching for something that didnt exist. Now I thought, o shit, my race is lost... Keep at it chipping way.
I got to Colt Creek state park, still had a bottle of water left so I pushed on. Knowing I had two miles left I kept looking over my shoulder. There was no way I was giving up any places now. Come around the corner and finish up the ride, Patrick's wife told me I came in at 11th. I was good with it.
Did I bother trying to see if the others conquered the puzzle? No, turns out it was a route error. So much for giving credit for cleverness, LMFAO. I had fun and at the end of the day, I was happy with my finish and felt very confident that I was the only one who figured out the chain link corral puzzle challenge.
Till next time fellas, thanks for a fun challenge!!!