Man, another one is in the books. It finally felt like the event has roots, maybe just from the business end of the stick… What I mean is that I really did not have much time or energy to put into organizing the event this year. Jacquelyn, Matt and Lindsey were in the same boat. All of us have been super slammed with our real jobs, not to mention M & L are expecting…soon. So, we relied on our previous two years of work shaking out details and knowing the ropes. I needed the COGS volunteer team to be money and they delivered in spades. Hell, they even brought more volunteers into the fold this year and ran a new twist of their own-poker run!. I don’t think there are enough words to express my gratitude for their support for this event. But, when I step back and look at it, it’s not just the event, these folks are immensely proud of what they have built and what is possible with the playground they call their turf. Steve Nichols and Sean Williamson stepped up to be big players in making the show happen. We hope you enjoyed the food, that would not be possible without our head chef, Jackie Burks and the support of Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe.
Pre-reg looked pretty good this year and we were excited for a healthy crowd representing several states. It’s always interesting to me how much interest there is from the Gulf States, Florida always and this year Louisiana. I guess if you think about it, this is one of the closest endurance races with real elevation for them. We are always happy to see them and show them a good time.
The Saturday night camp out was per usual with a few more tents and trailers scattered about. We cooked out, shot the breeze and then turned down for what seemed to be a plesant evening…and then it happened…the dogs…the dogs!!! After a lively rousing from one unamused camper and then me chasing a dog into the woods with a bike light, things calmed down for a bit and a few z’s were had by all. 4 am and the psycho rooster had his turn to shine…oh, well, it was pretty close to my time anyway.
Sunday was upon us and the weather was uncharacteristically good. Cars startedd rolling in at 5:30 and we started to get nervous that we were going to run out of supplies if many more cars rolled in. The final start list was 7o deep, a nice bump from previous years. The heat was present in all categories and the heat was hott! We got going right at 8am and the game was on. Knowing that we had missed a sign last year and how bad that made me feel for changing the dynamics of the race, I spent waaay more time on Saturday marking everything. When the riders were off, I punched it over to the exit of the singletrack to ensure that everything was good. The first riders went through and I punched it to the entrance to “Ogletree” – this is the secret trail where Kyle was detoured last year. Everything was good as the riders went through. I watched Jerry, Jamie, Will and Chad roll through smiling. Then Jaifer, Will H. and Shey rolled through with a 3 min gap. I then punched it Bo Duke style to the exit of Ogletree where Jaifers group was exiting and Jaifer yelled that there was no sign at the exit. I screamed a bloody expletive that was heard on the moon and just then spotted Jerrys group confused. I yelled at them to come to me through the woods. They did and got back on course. If the gap held true through Ogletree it was a 3 min mishap. I found the signs thrown in the woods and got them back in place so no one else missed the turn.
I then had to “Bo Duke” it through wiregrass to get in front of the riders and make sure the Rocky Mtn Church turn sign had not been tampered with. I did not catch Jerry or Jaifers group…holy crap they were motoring… I mean, I really can’t imagine rolling that strong, freaking motorcycle speed. The two signs were missing, My heart sank, the pessimist in me knew that this was going to be a disaster, my worst nightmare. I don’t fear failure, I accept it’s possibility in everything I do, but I could taste it, It was upon me. I hung my head, just pointing the riders in the right direction as my mind raced…how would I fix this? There was no contingency plan for this big a mistake. I texted Aid station 2 and told them what had happened, I asked them to just ask the first group throu if they were Jerry. What seemed like hours passed and then the text came through, “Jerry thru”…I almost cried. I found the sign in the woods and got it back in place. Things were back to normal…enough. I know that in these situations I can count on the top dogs to help with sorting thing out as needed in the end. But, just as it was last year – all small mistakes will be rectified on the skyway, the skyway will reveal the winner…always.
Texts started coming – “16 yr old at the turnaround”, “16 yr old thru bulls gap”, “16 yr old onto Ogletree” and finally mine ” Jerry is going to set the course record”. Jamie and Will were locked in their own battle for the podium and the riders started to stream through. After that it was back to the trailhead to start preparing for podiums and monitoring the course workers texts about riders still battling the skyway and wiregrass. That was a hearty group of racers and they all accomplished more than I know I could on the bike. The course workers had a long day as usual and did it all with a smile. Staying until the last rider was through and cleaning the course of materials after them.
Everyone hung out, ate some great food and told tall tales about the skyway. This is my favorite part of the event, not just because I know the goal is close to being met again and I can go ahead and add another notch in my hobby job belt. But, because the riders are having a great time and reveling in their accomplishment. Podiums were done, sponsors were recognized and the awesome trophies (created by Bo Nolen) were distributed.
I really enjoyed this year and I know that we are ready for the next step – 100 mile option and a Saturday event. The planning will be more comprehensive, no resting on our experience this time. The hwy crossing and dealing with the state DOT has kept me off of it previously. But, it’s time. I hope you will join us again n ’15. We promise to give you a real good time.
Thank you to all of our sponsors. It doesn’t matter if it was money, pro bono design or cookies, we can’t do what we do without you, we just can’t. We want to give the racers an experience that we would want to have and that is how it gets done.
Word to ya moms, 2015 will drop bombs.