by Sean Hess (Sean@Strackacobra.com)His name is Joe Mason, and he has tag 858. He beat me at Winder, Georgia, in the last turn. At Raccoon Mountain in Chattanooga he held me off at the end with less than a minute to spare.
I started Raccoon in 2nd place…the ghost/leader in front of me gone from the very start of the singletrack, I was controlling the race in front of everyone else for awhile, and then in third place until the start of the climb after the first paved section.
By the time we get to the Megawatt section I’m maybe in 6th or 7th. The adrenaline is gone, my power has leveled a bit and hasn’t quite bounced back yet, but I’m still riding strong. I make it to the bottom of the dam and I’m thinking, “Well, at least I left Joe in the dust this time…no way he’s going to catch me after that fast start!”
Then I hear, “Hey, Sean, you been able to find the line over those rocks after the dam?”
Oh, no, it’s Joe! How did he get back in?
The benefit to being in the lead or at least leading a group is that you choose your own lines and your own pace, and everyone else behind you has to react to what you’re doing. The negative is that you don’t hydrate very well (because you don’t want to slow down or show weakness), and that you have no idea who is behind you.
So I think I’m blowing Joe’s doors off and it turns out he’s been behind me the entire time. And since we’re pretty evenly matched I know it’s going to be head to head with him at the end.
He eventually gets that minute on me, and I see him a few times but I can never close the gap. The hydration thing? I didn’t do it well enough and I’m fighting cramps the first part of the second lap and then trying to keep my legs from locking up altogether for the last half.
So I finish 8th, the best I’ve ever finished in four years racing at Chattanooga, but Joe gets me again.
But that’s what make racing fun and challenging and different each time. Hats off to you, Joe!
Eats in Chattanooga.
As I mentioned in the last post (Bump N Grind 2011) I’ve made a habit of eating Chinese or Thai the night before a race. After a seriously weird experience in Birmingham I toned it down a bit this week and just went with the pork fried rice.
I deliberately looked for one of those hole in the wall places in a strip mall, and the anonymous one I found was about as inviting as a xxx video store. It didn’t get better on the inside either. It was dimly lit in the dining area with a large section set aside for a jumble of cardboard boxes. The kitchen was darker and a pile of dead chickens was sitting on a counter where a young man would come by periodically to chop them up, and then leave again.
But another guy out of the kitchen was chowing away on something so I figured, “If they ain’t afraid to eat it, I ain’t either.” It was really basic but really good.
The post race lunch was at Mojo Burrito in the St. Elmo’s section of town, just south of I-24 near the Incline Railway. Mojo cooks a very big, very plain burrito without a lot of seasoning, but you have a whole menu of things you can throw it in it, most for no extra charge. A little on the pricey side at $10 for burrito and drink, but it was expertly made, fast, and hit the spot.