Tri-State 6-Hour Versailles 2015: Race Report

Before the race, riders were rushing around getting ready.  It was a beehive of activity.

Before the race, riders were rushing around getting ready. It was a beehive of activity.

Christopher Boyle pretends to fix his bike before the race.

Christopher Boyle pretends to fix his bike before the race.

After a stronger than expected finish at England Idlewild, I was feeling more confident about 6-hour races as I pulled into the shelter area at Versailles State Park.  This was the third and final race in the Tri-state 6-Hours Series.  It was a pleasant morning with temperatures in the 60s and racers were quickly shuttling equipment from their cars to the tent area.

Looking around I noticed something – there were a lot of really fast racers getting ready to compete.  I recognized the bold mustache of Samuel Dobrozsi, who had crushed everyone at Hueston Woods.  The previous year’s series winner, Tomasz Golas, was rumored to be in attendance.  My tent was next to Brad Rogers who regularly wins the OMBC 40+ races.  Singlespeed badass Taylor Kruse, who raced on the road all summer, chose this as his first dirt event of the year.  Plus several other riders like Michael Gottfried and my Breakaway Quickdirt teammate Joe Worboy, who had beaten me in the first two races, were getting ready as well.

Racers get ready for the tristate 6 hours race at Versailles State Park.

Two of the fast guys.

Joe and Mikey Worboy

Two more of the fast guys.
Joe and Mikey Worboy. Mikey finished first overall in the Junior division.

Race start at Versailles

The race started with a short road section that led into the singletrack.  I am the relaxed guy on the left with his shirt open and chest hair on full display.
Photo by Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

I had to recalibrate my expectations.  Maybe today was not a day for another podium finish.  This was going to be a fast start and I knew that if I tried to keep up I would probably fade early.  I lined up in the front row next to Taylor Kruse to get a good place.  But, when the 9 a.m. start triggered a wave of rubber on the pavement, I was content to let them put a gap on me.  They sprinted down the road like a there was a prime for the first racer to enter the woods.  My nemesis, Chris Knapp, was ahead of me sprinting with the lead peloton.

“Let him go,” I thought, “I can catch him on the second lap after he mellows out”

Chris Knapp races his mountain bike at Versailles State Park

Chris Knapp and I have been battling for singletrack domination for about 6 years. Some years he is faster and other years I am faster. It’s been a fun rivalry and I think we have pushed each other to improve over time.  I never take it for granted that I will beat him.  I was also the officiant at his wedding.
Photo by Photo by Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

Joe Worboy races his mountain bike at Versailles State Park

This is Joe Worboy’s first full season of mountain bike racing, but he has worked really hard and gotten wicked fast in a short amount of time. He beat me in the first two 6-hour races, but I’ve been closing the time gap as I got accustomed to this longer format. Photo by Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

I settled into a good groove behind a few riders and focused on drafting and saving energy.  We passed the team tent area and weaved through a taped off course that lead to the singletrack.  By coincidence, I ended up in the woods right behind Shannon Tenwalde, who had already clinched the overall series win for solo women.  I had followed her for a lap at England Idlewild to help me find a good pace.  Now here I was riding her rear wheel again.

“She’s going to think I’m stalking her, ” I thought.  But, she does set a good pace, so I decided to try and stay behind her for a while despite how creepy it made me feel.

Dave Tingley passes Shannon Tenwalde on a climb

Dave Tingley passed Shannon Tenwalde and I on a climb. I followed Shannon for 6 or 7 miles on the first lap.

In the past, I’ve done this loop at Versailles in under an hour, but I knew if I did that on my first loop I would die quickly on the second or third lap.  Shannon and I were averaging almost 12 mph, which was much faster than we had gone in the last two 6-hour races.  Versailles is a fast course, but I couldn’t tell if it was just a faster trail or whether I was actually pushing it too hard.  I was sweating like a pig, but my breathing and heart rate felt like they were under control.

About halfway through the loop, there was a wide rocky switchback.  Shannon took the turn wide and I cut to the inside.  We both awkwardly came to a stop trying to avoid a collision while we pushed our way up the short slope.  I hadn’t intended to cut her off, but I did.  I felt bad.

“Go ahead,” she said.

I pushed forward and was now at the front of a short train of riders that had formed behind us over the last couple of miles.  But, now I was unleashed and without much extra effort I started to put a gap on Shannon and the other guys behind me.  I was feeling great.  I started thinking about trying to catch Chris Knapp and my teammate Joe Worboy.  How far ahead had they gotten?  Did they try and keep up with the leaders?  Was it too late to catch them?

I looked at my average speed of 11.9 mph and decided I’d better just focus on pacing rather than pursuing them.  45 minutes in was far too early to begin my assault.

James Knott rides the waterfall at Versailles.

The “waterfall” is one of the more technical moments of the race. There is a sharp left turn that will send you off of cliff if you miss it. I’ve heard stories of this happening. Be careful.
Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

The trail was nice.  There was zero mud and the surface had plenty of meat for my Kenda Honey Badger XC Pro tires to dig into.  The trail starts out rocky and you think that it’s going to really rough you up, but the rocks start to disappear as you get further into the loop.  The feel of the trail quickly changes.  It gets twisty with lots of small banked turns to lean into.  It’s a great trail for practicing your cornering.  I focused on holding my speed in the turns and riding efficiently.  My average speed was still 11.7 mph and didn’t seem to be dropping off significantly.

The 13-mile lap had over 800 feet of climbing per rotation, but none of the climbs were too punishing.  There were no slopes that an average XC racer shouldn’t be able to tackle if they were fresh (lap 4 or 5 might be a different story though).  The trail is not very technical but I did fall once when I washed out in a gravel-strewn turn – no major damage though.

There were 79 solo and duo racers, but on the second lap I barely saw anyone.  I passed one or two mechanically disabled riders and caught up to a couple of duos.  However, it was a lonely second lap.  I felt like I was going fast, but I didn’t seem to be catching anyone in my division.  That kind of loneliness can start to fill you with doubt.

The trail starts out a little rocky but smooths out after a mile or two. Kent Baumgardt - https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

The trail starts out a little rocky but smooths out after a mile or two.
Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

On lap 3, I got a much needed boost in confidence.  A guy caught me early in the lap.

“Do you want to get by?” I asked him.

“No.  I’m good,” he replied. “Are you a solo or a duo?”

“Solo.”

“Wow.  You are crushing it. This is your third lap?  I was able to catch you, but I’m fresh from sitting out a lap.  You are definitely faster. Keep up the good work.”

He followed me for a couple of miles and we exchanged some light chit-chat.  It was a great mental break in the middle of a long day in the saddle.  Eventually I pulled away and left Mr. Duo behind and that made me feel even more confident.

When I was alone again I started to wonder where was Chris Knapp and Joe Worboy?  Were they really that much faster than me?  I had expected to catch Chris a while back.  I couldn’t let my nemesis beat me.  Where was he?  Had he gotten that much stronger over the last month?

I pulled into the team tent area at the end of lap 3 and checked my split – 1 hour and 7 minutes.  That was three 1:07s in a row.  Lap 3 was actually slightly faster than lap 2.  The situation seemed very positive.

Dave Tingley, who was racing a duo with his wife Kate, was sitting in the team tent area.

“You just missed Joe.  He is about 2 minutes ahead of you – maybe 3,” he said.

Really?  That was the closest I had been to him the whole series.  This was my chance to catch him.

I started lap 4 with new focus.  I wanted to catch Joe.  I marched forward in pursuit, but my brain started to wander a little.  Where was Chris? Where was that jive turkey?  I’m not sure why the phrase “jive turkey” came to mind, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.  I started singing a little tune:

Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get that JIVE TURKEY!

Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get that JIVE TURKEY!

Sarah Knapp crosses a stream at Versailles State Park.

Sarah Knapp crosses a stream at Versailles State Park.
Kent Baumgardt – https://www.facebook.com/yabpp/

The lyrics were pretty simple.  The rhythm of the song coincided with my cadence.

I started wondering whether jive turkey was an offensive term.  I couldn’t exactly check wikipedia or urban dictionary while I was racing.  I didn’t want to whip out the ol’ smartphone on the singletrack.  If it was a divisive term, was it still racially offensive if a white guy calls another white guy a jive turkey.  Should I even blog about it?  Would I offend my readers?  If only I could run it by a black person to check. Unfortunately, this is a mountain bike race, so finding a black person is usually hard to do.  Why is this sport so pale?  Maybe the shade of the trees leads to a lack of melanin.  Mountain biking is an expensive activity.  Can it be explained by some socio-economic divide?  Does choosing mountain biking as my sport make me a racist?  Oh no.  What must the world think of me?

Some strange thoughts start going through your head when you’re punishing yourself for 6 hours.  Do these thoughts cause you to lose focus?  Or, are they a welcome distraction that help you survive the grueling task at hand?

Oh wait…  I’m still racing.

Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get that JIVE TURKEY!

Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get… (beat) (beat) Gotta get that JIVE TURKEY!

I finished my 4th lap a little slower than the first three, 1:10, but I still felt strong.  I knew I could complete my goal of finishing 5 laps in under 6 hours with no problem.

My strong performance at Versailles was powered by Hammer Perpetuem.  Click here to read reviews of the product and find out how much it is.

Christopher Boyle crashed at Versailles State Park

My Breakaway Quickdirt teammate, Christopher Boyle, took a bad spill. The photo really doesn’t do his injuries justice.

My teammate, Christopher Boyle, was sitting in the team tent with an injury.  He had several bad cases of road rash… err… trail rash…  on his legs and arms.

“Joe just left.  You are only a minute or two behind him,” he said.

Even though I had slowed slightly, Joe had slowed even more.  I was ready for the assault.  This was my big chance to catch him, but I still couldn’t figure out where Chris was.  Could he be ahead of Joe?  That seemed unlikely based on past results.

ATTACK!

I knew I only had to survive 13 more miles and I was going to make the most of it.  Joe and Chris didn’t stand a chance.

I powered through the rocks and up the first big climb.  I was having fun.  This moment…  this suspense…  this challenge to overcome…  this was what racing was all about.  I was going to lay it all on the line and cross the finish completely depleted, satisfied by the fact that I had put it all out there.

ATTACK!

Hiiiiisssssssss……  I was two miles in and I had a flat tire.  I screamed a word that rhymes with “luck”.  I hate myself.  I hate my bike.  I hate that moment.

I had been running tubeless, but had an issue on a previous ride and thrown a tube back in my tire in an emergency.  I had procrastinated and hadn’t gone back to tubeless yet.  Now I had a pinch flat.  Then came a long series of irritating setbacks.

  • The spare tube in my bag had a hole in it.
  • I wasted a CO2 cartridge finding that out.
  • A rider stopped and generously gave me his tube, BUT my other CO2 cartridge was empty.
  • The rider’s pump wouldn’t screw on to the valve stem.
  • When it finally did we spent several minutes pumping the tire.
  • THEN THAT JIVE TURKEY PASSED ME!  What???  He was behind me?  When did I pass him?  I’ve been chasing a ghost.  I mumbled a word that rhymes with “rubber trucker”.  Argh.
  • The valve stem then unscrewed and let all the air out of my tire.
  • We fixed the valve stem and spent several more minutes pumping it up.

Be prepared.  Click here to buy CO2

Finally, the flat was fixed.  So many riders had whizzed by me.  It was hard to tell how far I had fallen in the standings.  My nemesis was long gone and I no longer had time to finish a fifth lap in less than 6 hours.  I was going to ride the rest of the loop just to get the miles and finish for respect.

I quickly jumped on my bike and pedaled.  My drivetrain made a horrible noise.  I looked down and realized that the chain had somehow bent the derailluer into an unfixable position and nearly tore it off.  I tried to bend it back, but it was no use.

James Knott is frustrated when he has to drop out of the race.

Feeling the frustration after my mechanical. I was one flat tire away from greatness. 🙂

I screamed a word that rhymes with “mallard duck”.

There was no fix for this.  I was done.

I was so frustrated.  I began the long walk of shame out of the woods.  Overall, in three races I had ridden 160 miles in the Tri-State series and with a mere 10 miles left I had an epic mechanical.  It was a frustrating way to end it.  I still finished 10th of 28 solo riders for the day.  Without the mishap, I probably would have finished 5th or 6th.  I ended up finishing 4th overall for the series, which would not have changed even if I had caught Joe.  He was too far ahead of me in the points standings.

James Knott walks his bike out of the woods.

The walk of shame out of the woods.

The rear derailluer was mangled and the chain was twisted.

The rear derailluer was mangled and the chain was twisted.

Click here if you’d like to search for a new rear derailluer.  Click here if you need a new chain.

Despite the ending, this race left an impression on me.  It stoked the fire in my belly.  I initially signed up for the Tri-State 6-Hours series as a way to train for my shorter XC races.  Even though I hadn’t trained for these longer events specifically, I had still done pretty well.  I had gotten stronger with each race and now I was hungry for more.  I wanted another chance to prove myself.  There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back again next year trying to take my performance to the next level.

Will I see you there?

If not there, then I hope to see you at Dillon State Park on Sunday, August 30th.  After 6-hours of Versailles, 21 miles at Dillon will feel pretty short.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.  Until then, make sure you like Quickdirt on Facebook.  Cheers!

Solo Men's Podium at Versailles State Park

Congrats to Tomasz Golas, Samuel Dobrozsi and the other guys who made the solo male podium! I hope to join you up there next year. 🙂

Jimmy’s Stats

  • TriState_6hr_Versailles_2015_ - 410th of 28 Solo Males (64th percentile)
  • 12th of 50 All solo riders (76th percentile)
  • 24th of 79 solos and duos (69th percentile)
  • SERIES RESULTS 4th of 18 solo riders who did at least 2 races.  (The mechanical at Versailles did not affect my overall place, but showing up and placing 10th at Versailles was enough to move me up from 5th to 4th.)
  • 4 laps in 4:32:33
  • Moving Time 4:45:22 (until flat on lap 5)
  • Average Moving Speed 11.5 mph
  • Max Speed 26.1 mph
  • Avg Power 171 W
  • Max Power 733 W
  • Normalized Power 214 W
  • Training Stress Score TSS 248.8
  • Work 3079 kj
  • Elevation Gain 36:09
  • Avg Temperature 68.3 F
  • Lap 1 Split 1:07:03
  • Lap 2 Split 1:07:38
  • Lap 3 Split 1:07:28
  • Lap 4 Split 1:10:24
  • Lap 5 Split DNF

More Photos

Feel free to post a photo or two on Facebook.  But, please remember to give a photo courtesy and a link to Quickdirt.com.  Cheers.

 

2 thoughts on “Tri-State 6-Hour Versailles 2015: Race Report

  1. Awesome job! Bummer about the mechanicals. I wish I could have made that race but was shot from the John Bryan 6hr.

    There’s a 6,12 and 24hr race at Versailles coming up in a couple weeks…

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