Monday, June 8, 2009

The Morning After the Back 40

Let me begin by saying I'm very happy to have a desk job today. Sitting on a cushy office chair feels heavenly.

Kudos to Kevin B, the rest of the Tinker Creek crew, volunteers, and sponosors for putting on the 2009 TCC Back 40 race. As 118 racers would testify, this event was very well planned, organized, and punctual event—a good example of how a race should be put on. Extra thanks to Kevin B for going the extra mile by introducing the RRR/FGBC FGD Challnge "Butter Belt" (below). I know this piece of hardware provided extra excitment and motivation to both RRR and FGBC riders. It's this kind of special thought and effort that turns a good race into an excellent event. Thank you.

On to the race

The race course was an exciting but a very challenging loop that included twisty singletrack, a couple creek crossings, switchbacks, and Morden's answer to Birch's Double Camel—the Dead Horse climb. On any other day, riding the 16.5km loop would be fun, but racing this circuit was gruelling as there's no place to let your body recover.

Most of the RRR and FGBC riders elected to partake in the 5 lap option. Some would say this was immoderate and they'd be correct. It was epic, as and enduro should be. Not only was the loop difficult on the riders, but it seemed to eat equipment. I saw or heard at least 4 riders tending to broken chains, a couple flats, 2 taco'd front wheels, a broken seat post, and a broken suspension bolt. The constant strain on the drivetrain with all the climbing and shifting was magnified with the sticky mud that was somewhat strategically placed about the course. Survival, of body and equipment, was key.

Race results

RRR had its share of struggles. Brad had been nursing a seized up lower back after last week's WNRS #2 and hadn't been able to put on his socks 36 hours before the race. Not feeling too bad on Sunday, he rode strong with Jonny G and Dallas until half way into the 4th lap when his back decided enough was enough. With his back locked up, it took him about an hour to push the his bike back to the start/finish area—not a fun way to end the day.

Lorno also put in a good effort, but the force wasn't with him on this day. He's promised to put in some big miles, commuting to the Red River city from Landmark, to make his next showing something great. Those of us who know Lorno know great rides at what define him. Who else would ride the Muddy Waters century 2 days after getting snipped?

Mike became plagued with mechanical concerns after 2-1/2 laps when he stripped or sheared a suspension pivot bolt. Pushing the bolt back into place every few minutes meant he could keep riding, but obviously this made for a precarious situation what robbed him of any efficiency on the trail. The results show Mike didn't make the 4th lap cut off time, but his showing was good enough for a 13th place finish. Not bad for riding a crippled bike.

Now, everyone knows Mike has done more than his fair share of earning points For RRR in the FGD Challnge. Well, he's gone above and beyond again by recruiting Gilles C as our newest RRR member. Some may say "sweet"; I say "deluxe". Welcome Gilles!

Gilles, who raced in the 33km event, danced past me on one of the many punchy climbs like I was standing still. Maybe I was standing still, but he looked strong and owned the trail—no Dead Horse creek crossing or climb was going to slow him down. I know this because I witnessed it with my own eyes. (Bridge? I don't need no stinking bridge!) Gilles, congrats on your strong 6th place finish. Sorry to have missed you at the end of the race. I have a beer with your name on it.

I'd like to say my ride was a spritual experience, but simply put it was long and hard. I had gluten coming from my eyeballs. About 2 laps in, I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew by registering for the 80km distance. The legs didn't feel very lively and the semi-slicks I was rolling on were terrible in the mud, espcially those strategic corners and climbs I alluded to earlier. On the 3rd lap I started to settle in. I wasn't going to catch anyone, but I figured I could hold my own, and more importantly I knew I could finish. I had to finish...the Butter Belt was on the line, after all. After trying to entertain the TCC boys in my semi-delirious state at the end of every lap, I knew I had to finish. FGBC's Jonny G would surely be putting in a good effort for the belt and I knew it would take a serious mechanical for him to quit.

Congrats to our friendly rival FGBC riders, all of whom looked strong even if they DNF'd. Dr. H, who finished the 80km race in the prizes at 5th place, rode me off his wheel on the first gravel section of lap 2 like he was on a scooter. Well done. Jonny S (who technically is now an ABES rider), was good for 4th in the 16.5km race and did so in style on his trick Softride. Jonny G tied with Dallas for a 10th place finish in the 80km race and Coach Dave Dave U persevered in the 33km to finish 28th. Craig DNF'd in the 80km race, but he seemed to have a smile on his face when we'd pass each other in the back part of the loop (that kind of scared me).

Alas, the Butter Belt belongs to RRR!

Earning points for the FGD Challenge is cool. There's a good feeling that comes with contributing to the points tally, but one can ride for points in "any MCA, Grasstrack, or MUERTO race". It's only on the rarest of occasions that something like the Butter Belt is up for contention.

While FGBC edged us out in points towards the FGD Challnge, RRR came away with the real prize of the weekend—the Butter Belt.

- Back 40 registration: $40
- Power gels and Clif Bars: $14
- Shared transporation to the race: $12
- Winning the Butter Belt: PRICELESS

A few photos

The first few of the 118 racers signing in

RRR rocking the Back 40

Uh-oh. Pre-race mecahnicals...not a good sign

Muddy and tired, but happy

RRR team transport—thanks Brad

We were greeted by signs on McGillivary welcoming us back home


  1. Excellent race report KK. I certainly second the thanks to all the race organizers. The benchmark of how to put on a race. Fantastic.

    Points, schmoints. We have the Buckle. And if we have to get our butts handed to us, who better than by our brothers at FGBC? Nice job boys.

    There's always next time. Bring on the TT's.

  2. Were you guys all standing in a ditch? How come I look 8 feet tall in that picture?

  3. Good job boys. It was especially nice to race head to head in the same race/category.

  4. Agreed, Dr. H. That's what gives the Grasstrack and MUERTO races that extra kick. And kick you did.

    Brad, I was indeed in the ditch, but that doesn't change the fact that you're 8' tall.

  5. Nice work boys. KK you need to grab that pic of you with the belt off the FG website. You resemble WWE Superstar (and the pride of Westwood) Chris Jericho. Maybe wear that outfit Tues night or pull your bib short strap down like Mr. Perfect and hit one of "them" with the belt.

  6. No worries, Paul. The photo has been poached.

  7. Check this out. Fame, fortune & glory KK... You've got it ALL!

  8. Wow...that's hilarious! My 15 minutes have finally arrived. I think you've started something iconic, Kevin. We're already plotting and scheming for 2010, as I'm sure our FGBC friends are, too.

    Thanks for the link. The Back 40 fun doesn't seem to end.

  9. KK, expect the calls from sponsors to roll in any day now. Just remember the little people...

  10. No offense intended Brad, but you hardly qualify as a little person. Photo #2 above is proof...we should start calling you Jerome.

  11. KK - that is awesome! Good thing I locked you in to that multi-year contract (only 40 yrs to go, then you're a free agent - at least you got TWO power-gels out of me for that contract, double what I was initially willing to pay).

  12. And by power-gels you mean two visits to your EPO cabinet, right? ;)