Bottles, get your bottles here!

Saturday of Growler weekend. That means it's my turn to be race support and make sure the guys get the bottles and such they need for a successful race. I was helping Nick and Brett out this year - had offered to a few others but hadn't had any takers. The plan was the same as last time we went this direction - give Nick his camelback after Luge and then a bottle each time he went through the 4-way. I was also going to be giving Brett a bottle the first time at the 4-way. So it would be a busy morning. I did want to get a little bit of a run in - just something to stretch out my legs and get ready for my race the next day. After I dropped Nick off at the start, I headed up into Hartman and parked at the top of the second hill on the road. I'd get a good view of the riders cresting Kill Hill and then be able to see where people were in the race before jogging down to my post. I knew I didn't have enough time do get all of the run in before the race hit Kill Hill, so I was already planning on a run in stages. It would work and then I'd be ready when needed to help out.
Kill Hill from my vantage point - look closely on the road for the riders.
I could hear the wave of noise as the riders tackled Kill Hill. The sage was silent save for the birds, and then the echos of cowbells and cheers bounced off the rocks. Here they come... Brett was very high up in the group - just behind the lead pack. Turns out he'd won the Kill Hill prime this year... But more worrying to me was the fact that there was a singlespeeder ahead of him. And it wasn't Nick... Nick was further back in the race then I'd anticipated and didn't look as settled or comfortable on his bike as normal. Told him his position, then gathered my gear for the jog down the road to Luge. It was a bit of a wait even for the leaders, but I could see the bright colors weaving through the sage on the Luge descent. I got Nick a fresh bottle and his camelback and off he went. In fifth at that point, but not that far off the main group of singlespeeders. Time to drive to the 4-way and finish my run while I waited.


Scenery shot of the Indian Paint Brush! Flowers were awesome out there this year
 
There was a small group at the 4-way when I got there, setting up a water table. Right in the middle of the down hill... That table would get moved about 4 times during the race! I parked the van - driving it more defiintily made me more comfortable on the dirt roads. Talked with the other volunteers and rider soupport people, then headed out on Back In to finish my run. I knew it would be a bit before Brett came through. At the top of Back In, I stopped to watch for a while. I knew I could see the start of the Nine-O climb from that vantage point and that it would take the riders maybe 10-15 minutes from the start of the climb to reach the 4-way. But other then that, I could see nothing. One or two cars parked off trail by Skull Pass, but the course itself was a mystery. Just like at Kill Hill though, I could hear the wave of noise as the riders approached Skull Pass. I could actually see the start of Outback once I knew where to look as well. The lead rider had a huge margin when he started up Nine-O.

Bottles, get your bottles here!
 I set up my support station after the turn onto Bambies, on a slight uphill straightaway and waited. I knew Brett would be near the pointy end of the race so needed to be ready for him. Unfortunately, I hadn't really told him where exactly I'd be! The first rider nearly blew through the right - heading straight up Powerline. He caught it just in time and didn't have to back track too much. The next group of riders made the turn and I started looking for Brett's bright orange helmet. Super easy to see.
Brett slowed a little as he approached the cattle grate a the 4-way, looking for me. I yelp and hollered - enough to get his attention. First bottle handoff was a success. And not far behind him - the leading singlespeeder. Wow. That guy was moving! Time to start counting the guys and keeping my eyes on splits...

Nick was in fifth. He tossed his camelback and bottle as soon as he saw me. I gave him the new bottle and told him position and time back. Then I gathered up the discarded bottles from him and Brett and went to go refill them. I'd seen both Brett and the leading singlespeeder making the turn off Powerline road while I was waiting for Nick. It wasn't even a close race among the singlespeeders - that guy was well off the front.

As before, I positioned myself away from the turn, on a slight uphill. Still counting the singlespeeders so I'd at least be able to give Nick the info when he came through, I waited. The gap between Nick and 4th place had stretched a minute in the little loop. Another handoff and Nick was off for the sections of singletrack. Now came time to try to beat him back to the base area! I was successful in that, even driving slowly. There was more traffic out on the roads and I had to pull over a few times to let some speed demon drivers around. But I got to the base area in time to see Nick finish. He ended up 5th in the singlespeed class - not where he was hoping and much slower then he'd anticipated.  Just wasn't a good day for him...
Since I wasn't able to get any action shots...
Photo - Dave Kozloski
http://www.davekozlowski.com

Since I wasn't able to get any action shots...
Photo - Matt Burt
http://www.mattb.net

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