Camping and Mountain Bike Racing

Discussion in 'Biking' started by Loraura, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. LV2MTNBK

    LV2MTNBK New Member

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    Warrior Creek is a blast. We ride & race there all the time. They have awesome campgrounds.
    If you want to make a pit stop on the way to Tsali, I highly recommend a swing down to Charlotte and check out the US National Whitewater Center. Great trails and the training center for the US Olympic whitewater team.
    Turkey Creek is about 5 minutes from Tsali, but they have hook ups and cleaner bath houses. Be sure to drive to the Nantahala Outdoor Center while at Tsali. They do whitewater trips on several rivers in the area. The Appalachian Trail crosses the Nantahala River at the store. If you need a bike shop, head to Bryson City Bikes in, you guessed it Bryson City.
    I understand about not riding on wet trails. The trails around Charlotte are closed for 24 hours following any amount of rain. But the trails in the (NC) mountains are considered to be all condition trails. Sometimes it just fun to ride in the rain (especially during the summer in the south).
    If you are looking for some good down home southern cooking while in N. Ga., be sure to check out The Dillard House in Dillard Ga. you will not leave hungry.
    [size=12pt]Y'all have fun, be safe and eat some grits.[/size]
    [:)O] [LOL] [:)O]
     
  2. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Woohoo! All my good karma just got cashed in. Someone must have cancelled! I was able to book a spot for Friday night! I called the park after I made the new reservation for Friday and they confirmed that I won't need to move spots or anything. SOOO relieved!!!
     
  3. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Well, Mellow Johnny's Classic was a blast. The campsite reservation issue worked itself out and we had no issues at all staying Fri-Sun.

    My sister and her fiance stayed with us in their tent. It was a tad bit cold for them, but they survived. I sure was comfy in my pup!

    I had my best race of the season so far and fnished with a big smile on my face. It was great to see the "real pros" in action (This was a UCI Pro Race with the Pro Teams racing. We got to see Emily Batty, Judy Freeman, Jerimiah Bishop, Todd Wells, Sam Shultz and more. One of our local guys placed 11th out of 63 against the Pros!

    Lots of fun was had by all. I think my sister took some pics, I'll have to post them up later.

    Next up, Abilene, TX. We've never been there. The camping available is primative only (no hookups). I was game for it, and felt sure with the Heater Buddy we'd be fine. My husband vetoed me and booked a hotel. BAH!

    So our next camping/racing adventure will be the Big Ring Challenge in COldspring, TX (near Houston). They don't call it the Big Ring Challenge for nothing! Super flat, fun, flowy, fast course! I can't wait for this one.
     
  4. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    The Big Ring Challenge in Coldspring, TX (near Houston) was a Big Success!

    We were able to take vacation on Friday so headed that way around 9 AM. We took the scenic route through the Sam Houston National Forrest which was just gorgeous. We arrived a bit early, but they let us check in with no problem.

    We set up camp and went for our first pre-ride. We'd ridden this trail before, so nothing shocking, but there was a bit of new trail we hadn't ridden before and we enjoyed the change in terrain from rocky, hilly central Texas. We relaxed afterward, watched a movie, and got a great night sleep with the windows open.

    Saturday we slept in without an alarm (YAY!) then got up, had breakfast, and pre-rode again. I was having some bike indecision.. I brought two bikes to choose from, one which corners better (Giant Anthem) and one that hammers under power better (Specialized Epic). Friday I rode the epic. Saturday I rode the Anthem. Although I really liked railing the corners on the Anthem, I decided that I would lose time on the jeep road climbs more than the corners, so decided on the Epic for race day.

    We moseyed into town to get ice and milk and such, and had dinner at a little local cafe. Sharon's, I think it was called. Not great, but not bad. The mashed potatoes and gravy were delicious. I wanted to crawl inside them they were so good.

    OK, maybe i was just hungry...

    Saturday evening we just rested and hydrated. We went for a walk on the trail around the lake, which was nice until we hit the mosquito pits and poison ivy. Recommend repellant and ivy block for that! Also, saw a snake, so keep on your toes.

    Sunday was race day and it was especially nice to be camped on location. My husband's start time was 11 and mine was 1:30, so another day with no alarm clock yay!!! We did get a cold front blow through on Saturday night causing us to zip up the windows and turn on the heated mattresses before dawn. Strong north wind on Sunday morning made for a chilly start even at 11.

    Both of us had really good races. I had my best race start ever, going into the single track in first position. I held on to the lead until the jeep road opened up, then one slipped by me. By the end 2 more got past me, but I am still super pleased with my effort.

    Checkout time was listed as 1PM, but they didn't give anyone any trouble about checking out late. in fact they still had the road taped off for the 1:30 start times, so no one could really get out easily anyway. I spent the time between my husband's start and my warmup packing up the camper so everything was ready for us to pull out as soon as I was done and showered.

    We were in site #65 wihch was right by a bathroom, and the closest spot to the race headquarters. It was good except it was very steep uphill. I was worried that my tongue jack wasn't going to be long enough![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  5. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    I forgot to mention that when we asked the park manager where the gray water dump was, they said to just find a pull-through site, and use the sewer hookups there. Well, we drove all the way around the loop, and the pull-throughs with sewer hook-ups still had people in them... so we hauled our gray water home to dispose of. That's fine in the back of a pickup, but I wouldn't have been happy about that if I had to put the tote inside a vehicle.

    Almost all of the other spots were much more level than ours, so I'd safely pick any of the other spots. Site 65 was just the last one on the loop as the elevation started to become an issue. It's also curved a little. My backing-up skills are improving! I did have to straighten out and try again once or twice to get it right where I wanted it, but thank goodness I've learned how to back it up at all in our new truck. Our previous method of unhitching and pushing would have left us in a bind... there is no way we could have pushed it up that hill! It doesn't look like much in the picture, but I swear the tongue jack was just about out of lead. You can see how high the front bunk is over our bikes... they usually barely fit under the bunks.
     
  6. Keithsbabe

    Keithsbabe New Member

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    Great job this weekend! I just read this entire thread. I have a secret dream of camping/ running. Travel from race to race like you do, but on my feet instead of a bike. This was awesome to read. Thanks for sharing your adventures :)
     
  7. RBeau1954

    RBeau1954 New Member

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    You guys are out racing and riding and we are sitting inside with a foot of snow outside. Going crazy not being out riding. Soon enough though, already have some of my camping trips set up and just waiting, that is the worst part. Hoping for a nice weekend to at least open her up and check her out.
     
  8. mtn_bikers

    mtn_bikers Northern NJ

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    Loraura- I'm so jealous, sounds like you've been having a real good time.

    We camped 2 weeks ago- 1 inch of snow with freezing rain, in the 20s at night. Today after work hopefully will be my first mtn bike ride since December. At this point i just hope to remember how to ride LOL!

    We need to move to a warmer area so we can ride/race and camp more like you do : -)

    Sent from my VS840 4G using Tapatalk 2
     
  9. inthedirt

    inthedirt Active Member

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    I got my Pup for pretty much the same purpose, except I'm a dirtbiker........hence the name. I picked mine up last year just a week before a major National-level hillclimb event and I brought along my son. Others in the fam weren't interested in going, so we loaded up the truck and took off for the weekend. I didn't compete this time, so instead, we had a blast watching the event in comfort! Camping was allowed on-site for an additional $20 for the 3-day event. Was a great shake-down run for us. Instead of bringing my dirtbike, I took the minis and cruzed around on old-skool bikes (think lawnmower engine on frame).
     
  10. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    One more race in the books. This time we stayed at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX, which was about 4 miles from the race location.

    The park looked promising, with some actual dinosaur fosills and such.

    However, the camp spots were WAY WAY WAY too close together. We were in spot 34, and there were 3 picknic tables within 20 square feet. When we went to settle down for the night, the neighbors one spot over were just talking quietly by their fire ring, and it felt like they were in bed with me.

    If you go to this park, try to get a spot on the outside of the loop, rather than the inside, for any chance at any sort of peace and quiet or privacy.

    We usually try for an inside spot so that there is a shortcut trail to the bathrooms, but that turned out to be a mistake at this park.

    Also, there was absolutely no AT&T cell service at all in the camping area. Up by the office, you could pick up a signal. This complicated our normal routine of texting friends to organize meeting up for pre-rides or dinner. We made due.

    Saturday night there was a presentation by the park rangers at the amphetheater about the dinosaurs.

    On slide 2 the park ranger announced that she didn't believe in evolution and that the dinosaurs somehow magically decended from heaven... So we left. Seperation of church and state people... state park employees are state employees... save your religious beliefs for church or your personal time. Not the time my tax dollars are paying you to present facts. Leave the science to the scientists. Thanks! I was very dissapointed that they allowed a park ranger to muddle up a factual scientific presentation with their personal unfounded religious beliefs.

    I didn't take any pictures this time, because we spent very little time at our site. I didn't feel comfortable sitting out on chairs by the fire pit becuase it was simply too close to the other two campsites on either side. We stayed in our camper almost 100% of the time that we were in the park.

    Next year if we race this race again, I may look for a less convienient, but more suitable camp ground for our needs.

    The race was great, dispite me missing a turn and not having the best outcome. It was fun, the trails there at the Solavaca ranch are a lot of fun with a good bit of challenge. I'd go back (as long as I could find somewhere else to stay!)
     
  11. atolman

    atolman Member

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    Good race review :). Hey aren't you on bike mojo? Thought I recognized the screen name.

    Planning a trip to RPR with our pup soon. Have you been? Wondering how the camping is.

    Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
     
  12. sydnisamsofi

    sydnisamsofi New Member

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    Curious as to how the Abilene race went - know you didn't camp - the state park is not too far from Buck Creek :) - we stay out there quite a bit for short travel. Haven't ridden Buck Creek lately but do go when we can or have time…
     
  13. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Hey, yes, I am on mojo (and my husband, user name fontarin)!

    I've tent camped at RPR, but haven't been out there since we got our popup. When we tent camped the showers had no hot water, only ice cold, but I think they have fixed that since then. Other than that it was great. There was one really noisy cow that tromped by near our tent in the middle of the night, but it was friendly!
     
  14. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    The Abilene race was a lot of fun. I liked the course a lot, I know some people are "meh" about it, but I liked it. It does seem like it would be really hot out there in the summer though, not a lot of shade.
     
  15. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    The last TMBRA race before the summer "break" is done, yay!

    For the race at Bluff Creek Ranch in Warda, TX I decided I would take a few days of PTO and spend some extra time out on the ranch in Warda with the pop up.

    I arrived on Thursday, and was directed to a spot at the top of the entry pasture, right across the pasture from the "big house". I honestly think they put me in the wrong spot, because it had a 30AMP hookup, and when i called to make reservations, they said they only had 15AMP left, which I was willing to take. Once I realized that the 15AMP only spot was right across from where they put me, i kinda wished I had moved... it had running water close enough to connect to with a hose (from inside the cattle pen), and would have had SOME wind block from the trees in the pen. The spot I ended up in had absolutely zero shade whatsoever, and the wind was really strong most of the day and night all 3 nights that I stayed. I actually searched for "high wind" topics on the board when i was getting a little nervous about how much wind the popup could take. Gusts were 20-30 mph, but it sure felt like more. It was so strong it eventually claimed my EZUp awning by Sunday afternoon even though I lowered it to the lowest height (like 3 feet tall) whenever I wasn't using it. The aluminum support poles eventually bent and then kinked. There was no saving it.

    But anyway, I arrived on Thursday afternoon, got set up, and went for a pre-ride. Had the trail all to myself and had a lovely "refresher" ride just remembering the trail. Thursday night I had brought some pre-cooked taco meat and the fixings, and just used the microwave to heat up the taco meat. Super easy. I was super happy to learn that the over the air TV channels came in very clearly at the ranch! It makes me a happy girl when I get to watch live TV on Thursday nights. =)

    That night I slept with my head on the "windy" side of the camper, which I've now learned, is not ideal! Every time the wind would push on the canvas, it would move my pillows and wake me up.

    Friday morning I took my time, had coffee and breakfast, enjoyed the cool morning, then got ready to do some targeted pre-riding. There was one spot (after the two switchbacks on the mule trace decent) that plagued me, so I sessioned that until I could nail it over and over again every time. I was feeling very good about the trail, and hoped that I could have my first ever "never put a foot down" race.

    Bluff Creek Ranch was having some known septic tank issues, so just in case I had brought my newest camping purchase with me, a Nemo Helio pressure shower:
    http://www.rei.com/product/850667/nemo-helio-pressure-shower

    It's basically like a solar shower, except it sits on the ground (no need to hang it from a tree), and has a foot pump that pushes in air pressure that forces the water out of the sprayer when you hold the button. This also makes it fabulous for washing dishes, bikes, etc. I had previously removed my on-board water tank in lieu of more storage, so this was extra helpful for me. This was the first time I've camped without water hookups, and with this gizmo, I had no issues.

    I had brought an outdoor shower tent, as well as I had rigged up an indoor shower area in the dinette seat. I used two expandable curtain tension rods, two shower curtains, and a large storage bucket. I rigged up the shower curtain on the tension rods, and stood in the bucket to shower. Worked fantastic. Space is a little small... but definitely serviceable. When I was done showering, I just took the bucket, and poured it down the sink, attached to my grey water container. I don't think the ranch cares about grey water, but I am used to hooking up my grey water tank, so just went with it.

    For Friday afternoon the heat and sun were starting to really get brutal. I decided it was a good time to take a trip to Brenham to go see a movie and get some dinner so I could be in someone else's air conditioning. By the time I returned to the ranch, the sun was setting and it was a lovely evening, despite the wind. I'd learned from Thursday night to sleep with my feet on the windy end of the camper, and this was a great improvement.

    Saturday was my race day, and my husband joined me at the ranch with our dog. This was Lacey's first camping trip. On all previous races, my husband and I would have had to leave her unattended while we both raced with our start times fairly close together. This trip my husband's race day was on Sunday, so one of us could always be with her. She had a great time at the ranch, and other than wanting to herd the cows, she did great.

    My race went very well. I beat my previous race time by almost 20 minutes and my goal time by 6 minutes, which was good enough for 4th place. Unfortunately a racer directly in front of me stopped unexpectedly on the portion of trail that I had sessioned, so I didn't get to have my perfectly clean race. I had to stop, or I would have run right into her. I shouldn't have let her pass me on the preceding climb! Maybe next year!

    I was happy with my race time, and considered catting up and racing again the next day, but then remembered about the dog, so decided not to.

    It was so windy I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep my stove lit outside, so we took advantage of the on-site BBQ vendor for lunch on Saturday, and based on Lacey's stellar behavior all day, we ran into Giddings for a quick dinner while she napped in the camper with the AC on high. She was asleep when we returned less than an hour later.

    Sunday my husband raced and also had a really good race. Conditions were hot and windy. I cheered him and a few of our friends on, and did "feed zone" duty so they could have an cold "austin water" bottle for the second lap instead of the "neutral feed" hot funky tasting ranch water. He has his method down where I line up early in the feed zone and he tosses his bottle on the way into the feed zone, I hand him a cold bottle which he puts in his bottle holder, then he takes another neutral bottle and dumps it over his head for cooling.

    I think everyone was glad that this was the last race before the summer break in the series.

    After the Sunday races, we packed up (in the wind, fun fun), and headed back home. The EZUp awning wound up in the dumpster, the only casualty of the weekend! Lacey slept like a log when we got home.

    Overall I could definitely see us going back to Bluff Creek Ranch to camp and ride even when there isn't a race going on. Their prices are a high ($10 day use (for riding) plus $15 camping PER PERSON PER DAY) compared to state parks in central Texas, but the wide open views, solitude, and gorgeous sunsets make up for a lot! Their staff is friendly and helpful, and they have wifi *grin*. Heck, I could go spend a whole week out there, and log into work from there! Possibilities for the best lunch ride ever!

    I've got some pictures on my phone that I'll post shortly.
     
  16. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Our Spot for the weekend:
    [​IMG]

    Lots of open space:
    [​IMG]

    Sunset Views:
    [​IMG]

    Same view on race day (under my 3 foot tall awning... lol):
    [​IMG]

    Indoor Shower Mod:
    [​IMG]

    Mooo!

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    I returned to Warda, TX to do a 6 hour night race. I did this race last year as part of a two person tag-team. This year we opted to do it solo. I added my race report to my travel blog:

    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/loriwatkins/1/1376773910/tpod.html?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=FBMTB&utm_content=FBStreamPostTitle
     
  18. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Raced the Camp Eagle Classic in Rocksprings,TX this weekend. My first experience dry camping wasn't without it's issues.

    http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/loriwatkins/1/1377820800/tpod.html?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=FBMTB&utm_content=FBStreamPostTitle
     
  19. Loraura

    Loraura New Member

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    Pictures on my blog: http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/loriwatkins/1/1379030400/tpod.html

    This was a quick 1 night trip to Huntsville State Park near Huntsville,TX. Huntsville is located on I-45 between Houston and Dallas.

    We decided to stay in Austin Friday night so we could watch some Friday night High School Football (and see my son march at halftime). So we packed up on Thursday night, Watched football Friday night, and left at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning to head to Huntsville (3.5 hours from Austin).

    We arrived at the park by 10AM and were allowed to check in early. The park was more than half full already, so we were given a choice of a few sites to pick from. I took a wild guess and picked one not too far from the bathrooms, and not too close to the trailhead, not knowing where the start of the race would actually be. We took site 124 in the Prairie Branch area

    . This ended up being a short ride or walk from the race start (near site 1), we had no neighbors across from us, and had a view of the lake, too. One day I will learn, however, to pick sites on the OUTSIDE of loops to avoid close "backyard" neighbors and people cutting through.

    It was still fairly cool when we arrived, so we set up camp before pre-riding. This was when I realized that I left the BAL Leveler in the garage. I had removed it because I noticed that by storing it in the entryway of teh camper, it was beginning to scratch my cabinets. I meant to put it in the truck. Oops.

    I usually keep LYNX blocks in the camper for backup, but they were buried deep under the dinette, and I wasn't actually sure I had them at all, so.. we improvised. The site had a distinct slope to the streetside of the camper. So... we discussed running up to Home Depot for some lumber, and opted, instead, to simply turn the camper sideways by hand! Gosh I love our little camper... Any bigger, and this wouldn't have been a viable option.

    This turned out great because our porch now faced the open area of woods with the lake straight ahead.


    Since we were only staying one night, I did not set up the awning. Since we were so close to Huntsville, we also opted not to do a lot of cooking. This worked out because I also forgot the water hose to hook up to city water. This is a direct result of the hurried job I did packing us up when we left Camp Eagle in the 100 degree heat.

    We finished setting up our sideways camper, and went for our preride. I liked the course, mostly. It was sandy, which is very different from rocky Austin hill country. Deep sand in corners is a little scary! It's so known for it's sand that the trophies were made of jars of sand!

    The course is more climby than it looks, but nothing terribly steep. Lots of roots. I don't think I saw a single rock. Nothing to lift a wheel over. Nothing I couldn't clear easily.

    I went into this race hoping for a 3rd place (or better) finish. My pre-ride was confidence inspiring, and I finished with a positive outlook for race day.

    Jeremy and I took showers then ran into town for some lunch, One note: The showers in our camping area had no hot water. I checked with some friends camping on the other side of the lake, and they had hot water, so it was just us. I had really quick showers! Other than the lack of hot water, the bathrooms were very nice, always clean, plenty of room. Would have been nice if there were hand soap at the sinks, but I find most Texas State parks I've been to don't have soap either.

    After returning to camp for a bit, we left again to hang out with some friends and watch the Texas A&M vs. Alabama game and have some yummy burgers with all the fixins. The company was great and the food was fantastic. We stayed till dark when we started seeing lightening in the sky.

    When we got back to the park, we went to visit some other friends Jessica and James in their Quicksilver popup on the other side of the lake (site 35). It was dark, so we couldn't see much, but we did chat for a while and hear a huge tree fall a few sites over. It sounded like people had set off fireworks! The site had been taped off by the Park Rangers, so no one was in it, thankfully. It was quite exciting. Everyone came out with flashlights to take a look

    That was enough excitement for us, so we headed to our camper. The storm passed by without raining on us and we got a good nights sleep before race day.

    It was so nice to have mid-day race start times. Jeremy, Tommie, Margie, Melissa, and Teresa all had 11:30 AM starts while Jessica, James and I had 1:30 start times. We all had plenty of time to sleep in a little, then get ready to race.

    While the 11:30 folks were warming up, I packed up the camper. Honestly, I was just trying to stay busy so I wouldn't get nervous. At 11:30 I headed to the trailhead nearest our site to watch the racers go by and cheer on my friends. I ate a light lunch (half a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich and a handfull of baked chips), checked my bike over, hit the ladies room, then started warming up myself.

    At Camp Eagle I had made a huge mistake by not warming up properly (honestly, I didn't warm up at all). I learned my lesson and gave myself 40 minutes to warm up. Our camping loop had some elevation to it, so I just did laps around the loop till the hills didn't hurt anymore

    Jessica and James came to find me and we headed to the start line.

    We had 7 ladies 40+ line up at the start line. I was hoping for 3rd place (or better) to help me in the series overall points competition. I was very nervous. I knew for sure that two of my fellow racers were likely to beat me barring an unfortunate mechanical or injury on the course. I still felt I might have a chance at 3rd so I went out with all I had.

    We took off with the 7 ladies 40 as well as the junior ladies, so there were a bunch of us at the start. Believe it or not, it's hard to tell the 40 's from the juniors in the confusion of a hectic race start. I tried to keep track of who got by me. I knew Camille got by me, and Elisa was right on my wheel heading into the single track.

    Elisa and I started picking off juniors and then some of the 30-39 women who started a few minutes before we did. I felt Elisa would ask to pass at any moment, but I wasn't just going to offer it up. So we rode together for the first 3 miles or so. Finally Elisa took an opportunity on a climb to overtake me. I thought I was still in 3rd place and tried to hang on to it


    Around mile 4 I heard someone ask if they could pass but not knowing which age group they were in, I decided I had an attack in me, so hit the gas and made a gap.

    Around mile 5 Leigh Ann had caught back up and managed to overtake me, but shortly after being passed, she got hung up behind some other racers on a rooty climb and I overtook them both on the less ridable line on the left. I did my best to try to make it stick, but alas at mile 6 the climbing started up again and Leigh Ann caught me again. This time, she made it stick. I just didn't have it in me, physically, to hang on her wheel.

    At mile 8 both my calves cramped. I tried to stretch them out and avoid a full lock-up and just gimped my way to the finish line, coming in what I thought was 4th. Turns out Sonya had snuck by at the very start, and I ended up 5th.

    At least I didn't THINK I was 3rd only to find out I wasn't! Anything less than 3rd didn't help me in the series, so 4th, 5th, dead last... didn't matter.

    I still have one more chance at a 3rd place finish in Tyler. I have a month to get ready!

    After all the post-race excitement, I was really glad that I'd packed the camper up. All we had to do was rotate the camper back to it's normal direction and hook up to the truck to head out.

    It was a long day, and we got home after dark. We were exhausted! In a good way. I think.
     
  20. MTBDad

    MTBDad New Member

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    Sep 15, 2013
    Good thread, thanks for this and your blog. We have been racing the TMBRA series off and on for several years, and we would often tent camp. At Camp Eagle last year we tent camped, and it was not a fun experinece. We learned, on friday night at about 10PM that there were literally hundreds of wolf spiders all around the tree that we set up next to for shade. Their eyes reflect flashlight light you see. Also, it was really hot, no breeze and a full moon... This year we stayed in one of the dorms and had a fabulous time. It's our favorite race. Relevant to this thread is that we are about to purchase a PUP, so I appreciate reading about some of your experiences at the various race sites. Maybe see you next season?
     

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