2009 Tree Shaker Mountain Bike Race Fort Mill, SC

The Tree Shaker 12 Hour Mountain Bike Race in Fort Mill, SC was my last ‘race’ of the year. Anything from here on out will be for fun.

Last year, my team of Neal Boyd, Scott Streuer and myself took overall honors in the 3 person team event. This year, TJ Wood took Neal’s spot as Neal had timing responsibilities.

The forecast was for wet weather but thankfully, we only had a few sprinkles throughout the day. TJ took the first lap, me the second and Scott took the third lap. The first lap always seems to be the hardest as you are trying to go fast, learn the course and not blow yourself up for the rest of the day. I had a great first lap and was looking forward to a good day.

The thing I noticed the most on my first lap was how humid it was. I was dripping sweat instantly. I went through a gallon of water by noon and the race started at 9AM.

The course is awesome and much more taxing than you would expect. It’s a very punchy course that requires a lot of out of the saddle sprints on the short hills and out of corners. As a result, you quads start feeling it towards the end of the race.

My excitement really started on lap 3. Our team was hanging pretty tough with another team. We would lose a couple minutes one lap and then make it up the next. I was pumped for a fast lap and really felt like I was ‘on it’. I seemed to be cruising fast, hitting everything just right. I felt like I was on my fastest lap of the day. I was about 100 yards from coming out of the woods when “where’d that banana peel” come from. The trail runs along the ‘river’ and is fast, twisting and sandy. Not real technical. Some how, I managed to lose my front wheel on maybe the fastest part of the trail. I hit the ground so fast that I didn’t have time to get my hand of the handlebar (which is a good thing). I landed on a root with my hip and slammed my forearm on the ground. The root was like an anchor and didn’t allow me to slide at all. My sunglasses fell off my face, my helmet was crooked from the impact, and I was laying on the ground trying to figure out what happened. It hurt and I remembering saying outloud…”this is NOT good, this is NOT good“. Next thought was, stand up and see if you can ride.

Luckily, I could still ride. It hurt and I knew it was going to make for a long day. I managed to finish my lap. I was really concerned about my next two laps. My arm was bleeding and bruised, it hurt to walk but I couldn’t quit. The guys were working too hard. I iced my hip, and got my arm cleaned up. I tried to eat something but it was tough as the adrenalin from the crash wore off. TJ finished his lap and it was time to go. Crazy thing was that I felt better on the bike than walking around! So, I was good to go. My times fell off but I was able to finish my laps.

The best lap of the day is always the night lap. You don’t notice the hills because you are so focused on riding into the tunnel of light from your lights. I had a blast. Stopped to give one racer a tube who had a flat, helped one racer through the river section where I crashed because his lights were going out.

TJ, Scott and I finished 2nd to a team out of Asheville (I think that’s where they were from). It was a great mountain bike race. We turned the same number of laps as last year. I’m doing OK after the crash, I have a black and blue forearm, green bruises developing on my hip, and am getting around a lot better than I thought I would.

It was a great way to finish the season. Now some time off the bike to recharge the batteries.

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