as written/reported by Rob Horn
04’ 24 Hours of Snowshoe
Sometimes life just seems kind of surreal. Have you ever done a major thing in your life and after it is over it seems like it was light years ago even though it was only days or weeks in the past? Then you do it again the next year and once again the same feelings overcome you. Since high noon on June 27, 2004 my brain has been trying to latch on to and bring forth the memories and happenings of the 2004 24 Hours of Snowshoe. Every day the memories of the 24 just seem to stream out at the strangest times. I find myself riding the course in my dreams, wondering what could be done to make laps faster, why did I crash so hard on such a small root, or what, or why, or how? It’s funny what racing for 24 hours does to your brain. It is like my mind stores away the memory of the race and lets bits and pieces out one at a time whenever the hell it wants to. Yes, memories are what it is all about. Riding challenging terrain, racing with your closest friends, being supported by more of your closest friends, meeting others crazy enough to do the deed, but most of all it is about being in a place called West “By God” Virginia racing the original 24 mountain bike race. The first, the foremost, the one that started the endurance racing trend. The event that brings our sport back to it’s roots. Ya’ll remember back in the day. Epic rides, uncharted trails, being self sufficient, run what ya brung, and ride until you are bonked and them limp home another 20 miles savoring the honey bun you bought at the hundred year old country store. That is real mountain biking and that is what the 24 of Snowshoe is all about sans the old store in the woods. Although I am sure that visions of honey buns have danced through many a racers brain at four in the morning working hard through Bob Cat Alley.
Every year I write up a race recap for my own memory files and send it on to interested friends. It is usually a couple pages long, kind of offbeat, and just a short shout about the happenings of the race weekend and how things finish out. As I write this I am not sure if the story will be short and sweet or long and raging due to several factors. It all started with monsoon season in St Louis. Training time was tough to come by. Basically getting ready boiled down to a short six week stint of inflicting severe pain to my bod a couple times a week on the one gear when the trails were dry enough and riding as many quality road miles on the new Seven Axiom. The main point is that the event is many things and getting prepared is the hard part that leads you into the main event of the year. Yes it is Epic, always wet, slick, and a 24 hour painfest on one of the toughest courses in the good old USA, but the key point to this event is the tradition of it all. A yearly pilgrimage to the ultimate old school mountain bike rumble. Yes, the main event it is!
So why I am ranting on like this is a bigger deal than previous years. May I introduce Laird Knight. Founder of the 24 Hours of Canaan/Snowshoe and Granny Gear Racing. The Guru of 24 hour mountain bike racing. Every year I talk with Laird for a few short minutes while he is running around being head honcho of the best event in the world. These quick conversations are always profound and way positive. He is working hard for the racers and just begs you to take it to the mountain and give it all you got. The man is positive, his events change lives forever, make stronger men and women out of us, challenge each and every racer to the maximum, and most of all Laird Knight brings the roots of mountain biking back to the sport. Epic adventures were the foundation of our great sport and Laird is one of many who work hard to keep our roots deeply embedded.. Adventure is the reason we ride. No other rhyme nor reason. Each year in June our main Laird assures the world that Epic mountain biking is the real deal by hosting a 24 hour race on some truly evil terrain that sends some home begging for their mommies leaving the rest of us to ride it like we mean it.
I’ll get back to Laird later but for now remember that there was a conversation that holds great importance. For now lets get on with it in hopes that my brain can latch on to the needed memory files to write this thing in less than a week. Wednesday June 23rd Barb, Boone, and I loaded up the Explorer with an unbelievable amount of food, gear, and St Louie Beer. At 2:30 PM John Twist and Kyle Bova pulled in the drive chompin to get to WV so we hit 64E bound for an unknown hotel in Hunington, WV. We hit Kentucky starving pulled into a Cracker Barrel to install some feed bags. We ordered up some good old southern grub and I hit the sweet tea like I was hooked up to an IV. Fact: I am a sweet tea addict? Following the southern drawl of our waitress, Barb and I had were talking normal within 15 minutes with firm plans to convert Kyle and John to the ways of the south before weeks end. Onward we drove into the night. The trip was going well but around 11:00 PM we started to get tired when somewhere outside of Morehead, KY John swerved hard left and I followed. It seems that we just missed trashing out a huge refrigerator that was lying across Hwy 64. We cackled across our two way Motorola’s in disbelief. We hit Ashland, KY about midnight. The hotel would not let Boone in so we headed on to West Virginia in hopes of a hotel that would allow the furry one. Just as we crossed into WV Kyle came on the radio to let us know of the awesome rock station playing G & R’s “Welcome to the Jungle”. Appropriate tunes for the moment due to the fact that we were surrounded by oil refineries lighting up the sky. We found beds at the Days Inn. Crashed out hard dreaming of just getting the hell to Snowshoe. I was getting real fired up to race so sleep was hard for me. I just kept running that course through my mind lap after lap. Rippin that mountain down and being ripped apart in the same dream.
After a hard nights sleep we hit the road about 9:00 AM June 24th hell bound for Snowshoe and Phil’s most awesome mountain house. Our man Phil whom I have never met is from PA. He owns this awesome house on Snowshoe Mountain and has been hooking us up with grand central housing since the 2000 race. I must thank Phil for all he has done for us. Hell, one year the upstairs burned down so he rebuilt it as quick as possible so we could have a place to stay even though it was far from done. Thanks Phil. You are the one. We hit Elkins/Davis, WV around 1PM with only 35 miles to go. Pulling into Elkins was like entering the eastern motherland of mountain biking. First it is home to Granny Gear.Com and Laird Knight, second it is home to the supa fast Ms. Sue Haywood, and lastly it is the beginning of Hwy 219’s Epic mountain biking corridor. So we gassed up and hit the super twisty Hwy 219 making Snowshoe in record time with zero near misses of the large deer population. We pulled up to house with finding the key as our main agenda. That is after I found me a cold frosty one in the bottom of the cooler. Finding the key is always a fun game. Sometimes it is under one of the hundreds of rocks surrounding the porch, under a bucket, etc. Well, we found the key within 10 minutes and then the note that we cannot move in until the cleanup crew is finished repairing the house from the mess left by the mountain bikers staying previous to us. When I walked in to the house I was ready to kick some ass. Barb says; “Man, they sure are making mountain bikers look bad”. I found a couple wasted DH tubes so we figure they were just a rowdy bunch and let it go at that. The maids told us they love us and that we have been the only mountain bikers to stay at the house until the guys that tore it up so it looks like we still rule the roost and told the maids that we do not approve of the house demolition. We moved in vowing to leave the pad cleaner than we ever had.
As the maids went about there business we unloaded the gear, set up the kitchens, and patiently awaited the arrival of the Tennessee gang.. They rolled in about 3 PM. Howdy’s and introductions abounded, more cold frosty goodness was consumed and it was time to ride. We all mounted up for a quick ride down Powder Puff Run and then on to the infamous course. The group missed the turn to the trail so a CF was set. We completely lost Barb in the mess so after looking for her about 30 minutes we went for the course figuring she would find her way. On the way up the paved road I noticed my rear Hugi hub was making strange noises and at once knew my hurried rebuild had set the springs backwards. We pulled up to the registration office in need of a pair of pliers and there stood our man Laird. With the how do’s over and done Laird produced some pliers in the way of wire strippers and I had the hub fixed in less than 60 seconds and ready to make war with the course.
We spun down the super wet Black Run Road all wondering what Lower Beaver Dam had for us this go round. I was so fired up to ride the goods, aiming at the middle of every hub deep puddle of goo along the road, jammin Zepp’s Black Dog in my head. At the end of the road we hit the Beaver like crazed root hounds. Paul and I stopped to check a line that had given me trouble in the past and let Duck and the crew head on. After wiring the section we rode deeper into Lower Beaver Dam. I came around a slick righty, dropped off a big root, over a nasty bridge and up some steep root steps. I was stopped at the top by Brian “The Duckman” Archer wild eyed and covered in sludge, wet to the bone. He hit real hard after his fifteen foot downward flight onto the bridge sans Yeti and then fell in the creek below. He looked way bad. He was walking around talking in tongues, so I made him sit down and began to assess his sorry ass. Lets see? A possible broken wrist, bruised or broken ribs, can’t breathe real well, eyes crossing, and a head smackin for sure. Paul Windsor hit the scene with his full on IMBA National Mountain Bike Patrol Pack filled with the goods, laid some patrollin to the Duck, pronounced him not real good to go but a real tough dude and we hit the trail. Duck was a little shaky so he lead the way to so we could keep an eye on him. After a few hundred yards he seemed to smooth out, get his groove on, and hit the shit like a wet Duck should. Ya gotta watch out for your teammates in this place. It can get in your head big time, hurt ya bad, and make scary things run through your brain. At the Shoe the word team is of the highest regard. You race alone but always for the team. Negative words are bad JuJu and can bring on way evil things. No Pain, No Fun is the game and smiles are required. Just don’t let the demons bring ya down. Duck threw the finger up at the evil ones and just motored on.
We stopped to hang at the bottom of Lower Beaver and chow a bit.. Duckman started to crack some jokes so we knew he was hanging tough. Next thing we know Laird ride’s up behind us and there we stood again with “The Man”. We all talked about the course, the event, the tradition, Panaracer Fire XC Pro tires (the WV tire), and then Laird spit it out. “Ya know the 24 is not going to be here next year. The venue is to expensive, racers are in need of a new course, attendance is way low, only the true hardcores like you TN boys are here, so it is time to get back to the deep roots and make a change. Wes broke wind so we all saluted Laird’s decision and I pedaled away lost in a haze of thoughts. As I followed Laird up the Cub Run steeps my mind began to understand that I only had a few more trips up this climb and around this course. Never again to race the knarly “Shoe”. Next thing I know I am topping the climb with Laird and quickly going to the big ring heading to the screaming Powerline Downhill. We dropped into the Powerline like I expected. That is wide open, wound out in 27th gear knowing that the rock seam is the goal. We were rippin and then my brain said, “hey, follow the man, he built the place so you might learn something”. So I followed his line to the right of the seam and saw some smoother goods on the other side. Nice lines for sure but I’ll stick to the seam on race day cause it is better to take chances and come out rubber down. At the bottom I bid Laird a good race and awaited the crew to come on down to the bottom. Man was I fired up and blazing. Ready for a good old Missouri burnin!
Everyone gave me a great Powerline show and then we hit the tasty IMBAlicious section on out to Airport road. At the road Duck was hurting so I led him, Wesley (12 years old riding all the goods), and Paul back to the house knowing there will be more fun to be had on Friday. We hit the house with food and frosty’s in mind. Chowed some pre-meal food as well as gave the Duck an official checkin. Yep, duck has done it again. Hurt his ass bad the first 30 minutes we are on this mountain. He has done this five years straight so riding with extra pain will be his same game. He declined the offer for John Twist to take his spot so the deal was done. We hung on the porch for a while and I noticed that Kyle just could not keep grinning ear to ear. “Kyle, ya having a good time? Ya, Rob but I’ve got to tell you. I knew YOU were crazy but that is some truly evil shit to be racing on. “You should have seen it five years ago. Yes it is evil but you should have seen it five years ago. Good stuff huh?”. I guess Kyle is right but as far as I am concerned it is the stuff that all mountain bike races should be held on. If it ain’t rough why bother! That is why they make mountain bikes, beer, good food, and Vitamin I.
Massive hunger grabbed us all so we headed to Cheat Mountain Pizza which we found CLOSED at 8PM. Duck loudly calls them all Bastards? Don’t they know we are HUNGRY? We cruise across the village to the Foxfire Grill and barely make the kitchen cutoff for chow. We ran into our friends the “Sofa Kings” at the bar. Talked with Andy L, Mike, and crew for a few and hit the tables for sweet tea and grub. Word: Andy Laitenen and crew did the 2000 “Shoe”. After the first lap Andy had two IV units pumped through him and they did finish. It took four years for Andy to talk the crew into coming back and they did it with a smile. Kudo’s to Mike for breaking his helmet on a massive rock and just laughing off the five stiches the day before the race.
After grubbin out we cruised back to the house to prepare ourselves for the timely arrival of our man Dr. Skip Cooper. Saturday the 26th is his birthday so we wanted to greet him in style. We drank and snacked until we just could not stand it and hit the sack about midnight. Our team namesake Skip Cooper is like a brother to us as well as being our numero uno and only support dude for our first 24 hours of Canaan. All it took that year was two four man teams, a ton of food, an awesome campsite, a couple quart jars for medicinal purposes, and a cast and titanium holding Skip’s right Tibia and Fibia in place. Skip has been there since day one and has never left our side. Skip is the soul of Dr Skips Medicine Show. Hence the team name change in 2003 to Dr Skips Medicine Show. You might ask, Who is Dr Skips Medicine Show? We are: Team Captain - Brian “The Duckman” Archer, Bob “The Great White Goat” Lamberson, Michael Ritter, and myself Rob “Rockboy” Horn. We race for and with our man Skip as well as all our brothers, sisters, and family’s who support us. Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo for sure. Theme song: Aerosmith’s Train Kept A Rollin.
Sleepin was real good that night so Barb and I were the last ones out of bed on Friday the 25th. We were just shot from long work hours leading up to the event plus the 12 hour drive just laid us out. Even Boone slept until 9AM eastern time. I awoke to the smell of coffee and went straight for it. Goal one was caffeine and to find Skip. As usual I found him at the coffee pot. A reunion commenced over coffee and from then on the day seemed like it was in slow motion. We went up to the village to shop, got some cash, and checked it all out. Watch the locals flirt with Barb. Drank more cold frosty goodness throughout the day and finally hit the trails. We rode with Barb for a while and then kicked her to the curb to take on the course again. Just as we entered the Beav the mountain began dumping rain on us. The heavy rain made the trail the best I have ever seen it. Just ride in the running water and let it rip. My Yeti just kept begging for more speed so I let just let it go ping pongin down the trail. Duck and I had elected three short sections of the course to walk during the race and with that goal in mind we road a 100% dab free kicked it’s ass loop walking the planned sections. Man were we stoked. I bounced off a tree at high speed crossing the final ski slope somehow keeping the rubber side up, jammed on through the final roots on to the Home Run DH and finished up at the bottom ready for war. That Asshole Osama B would be in deep shit to meet up with the Rockboy about now. I would burn his ass down, run over him with the Yeti, and leave him face up lying in the mud. Everyone came in stoked to ride, gave Wes some high fives for being the baddest 12 year old on the mountain, and talked of how fun the course would be on race day.
We went back to the house to clean up, and see how Bob and Michael’s practice laps went. I opened the freezer to get Duck some ice for the ribs and noticed that our medicine cabinet had been stocked with 8 qt jars of mountain nectar. Yee Haa. We were a little worried about Michael’s mental state and we were all working hard to keep the demons away from him. Michael Ritter is one good friend, teammate, and a pure hammer on the bike. Always ready for pain, suffering, and tough trails. He ran the 2003 race in fine fashion and came into this year a little less fit but we knew he had it in him. Note: Michael had to go to Australia for six weeks this spring. After coming home from down under he only had six weeks to get fit for the race. He had put himself through weeks of hell on the bike trying to get right so the mental burnout is what had us spooked. Snowshoe has a way of bending your mind. If you let the demons sneak in through the backdoor they can latch on and pull you down into a place darker than most humans have ever been. I have never been there but did have the demons knock on my door before the 2001 race. I remember how quick those reacted and feared it for Michael and the sake of the team. In 2001 the demons had me riding just slightly timid and I dislocated my right knee cap about 4 AM in the Enchanted Forest putting me out of the race. Telling my team I was out was the single hardest thing I have ever had to do in my lifetime. I was tore up about it and have never gotten over it which makes me ride this place with the tenacity of a starving bear ever since. I was ready to do whatever it took to keep the demons at bay even if it meant running naked around the house. Word: Andy lost a bet to 10 year old Ian Friday night and did the run against the demons in his boxers under a light rain..
After we cleaned up Michael and Bob rolled in from the course. Bob was fired up but Michael was way down. He had hit hard several times, started riding tight, and the demons of Snowshoe came to play. He said he was in it for the race but to not expect his laps to be fast. No problem.. As long as you take your turn all is good. Podium thoughts are out the window but fun is the name of the game. Lets race! Bob and wife Annette cooked up an unreal BBQ supper with all the carbo fixins. Enough meat was cooked for most of the weekend so we were ready to rock and roll. Kyle Bova was our wrench for the weekend and was busy getting our bikes race ready. Supporters John Twist, Paul Windsor, Dr Skip, Randall Breedlove, Andy Clevinger, Annette, Wesley and Ian (Bob and Annette’s sons), and Kevin Taylor started preparing the house for race time. Randall’s better half Stephanie was taking a snooze to get ready for her massage gig at the race venue the next day.
Close friend Alan Shockley was racing solo and his normal support team could not make it so we were scrambling to find a way to keep his train running but his confidence was waning. I just had a feeling that Alan’s chances at the podium were slipping fast. 8th the first year, 4th last year, and even fitter this year just seem to add up to standing on the box when all is said and done but I could tell me good friend was not mentally with it now had a demon knocking on the door. That being his normal support crew that knows him so well was not there to do the deed. Skip and Andy were elected the new crew but we all knew that our man Alan’s race could be short.
We all went to bed knowing we had a great team and the best support we had ever had. Lets just hope that the demons leave Michael’s house and stay off our porch. We awoke Saturday morning to heavy rain. We found out later that it had rained all night on the course and grease is the word. We’re gonna be dancing like John Travolta, jammin like ZZ Top, talking with Sabbath’s Wizard, and steppin like Skynard. We say bring it. More rain, come on Mother Nature throw down and bring it on. Bob was ready to start us off so we all headed up to the venue for the start and sent Barb and Boone on their way down to Johnson City, TN to stay with Andy’s wife Donna and hang with the girl friends. Days after the race she tells me she has never seen me so focused on one thing in the 19 years she has known me and now finally understands why I do what I do and what it means to me. It always seemed crazy to her that I would begin getting excited about next years race as soon as the race ended. Crazy? No, just ate up with pain and fun. Note to all: We have never allowed women in the house during the race. We get cranky, bitchy, wild, crazy, and show sides of ourselves that only we who are not right can understand. This year we changed the rule and it was one of the best things we could have done. Barb and Annette got to see the show, be part of the weekend, and learn just how crazy their better halves are. I just wish I could have ridden more with Barb but it just did not work out. Anyway, my wife has officially given me the crazy stamp of approval along with the rest of the crew.
Here we go. Man was I ready. A no dab pre-ride lap, Kyle has my bike running smooth down to the tire and shock pressures. Loads of food stockpiled at the house, clothes and lights are ready, extra parts lined up, and our Indy team support crew already drinkin. High noon is coming and the Pale Rider is sweepin back his coat. We all hike up the first climb with Paul Windsor’s parents in tow. Second year in a row they have made the trip down from Morgantown to see the start and wish us all well. The gun goes off, adrenaline runs through me like a shot, and we are racing. Alan finishes the run dead last limping up the first climb with Bob about 80th. On to the bikes they go and Alan hits the first singletrack about 30th with Bob about 50th or so. We’ll take it and run with it. Bob rides a 1:12 with the Lemans start and Alan blasting like a 1:06. Burnin down the house for sure. Duck is out second and runs a 1:16. I take out way hard causing a slight asthma attack after Lower Beaver Dam that made me blow my breakfast in front of the aid station but I worked through it on the Cub Run Climb and kept the wood down. Hit the Powerline wide open and got thrown on to some crazy line. Ended up out in the grass just hopin I would miss all the hidden rocks and holes. Chickity China, You got chicken? Yea, I got your chicken as I pass three riders at the bottom. I end up riding a 1:09 coming into the changeover tent wild eyed and ready. Michael was fourth and ran a 1:27. Good job for sure and his spirits were rising.
For round two Bob turned a 1:13 stating that the mud was turning sticky and will soon glue. Sounds like running will be the plan in the deep stuff. Man, was Bob fired up and ready to ride. Duckman’s next lap was a 1:27. He handed off to me yelling to pick it up and run cause it ain’t gonna roll. He had also taken another hard hit and looked like shit. I hit the Beaver hell bent on riding as far as my bike would roll and then running. About 300 yards in things began to get dark in the woods and I was glad Granny makes ya strap on lights after 7:30 PM. I was running a bar light sans headlight to save weight and now knew that was a big mistake. Sure didn’t think it would be that dark in the woods. I wheelie dropped one of my favorite root balls at speed with a big “YeeHaa” and found the sticky mud on the other side that promptly planted me on my head in a pile of rocks. A rigid Singlespeeder road up and made sure I was good to go then promptly planted himself in the next mudhole/pile of rocks. We both ran together until the ground firmed up and rode it out like our hair was on fire. We hit the Cub Run climb and he dropped me like an empty Busch Lite and went out of sight. I rode the rest of the lap clean except for having to carry my bike on my back up BobCat Alley. I passed my TN brother Chris Chandler (Team Lethal Sausage) on the Wall climb. He said he had wasted his ankle and to tell Jeremy he would make it in but was bad off. The Homerun DH was a blast and I ripped it roots and all in the big ring for a 1:15 dark lap. I handed off to Michael about 9PM with strict orders to just run the damn thing and take no chances. I could see the demons in his eyes and I felt for him. When the sun goes down the demons come out to play. Fired up about my lap, pissed off that the demons were working on Michael, and worried that he might throw in the towel was making me crazy. I ran into Jeremy at the finish tent and told him of his brothers problems. We find out later that his ankle was broken and required pins. Chris is one bad man. The crew wrapped me in the official Ali blanket and rushed me back to the house were I slammed an Endurox and chased it with a Penn Dark over Mac and Cheese. Andy came in and said Alan had thrown in the towel while running in fourth place. The stars were just not aligned for big Al to lay down the pain so he joined in on our support posse to mainly drink beer and cheer us on.
Well, the sun was down, the course had turned to mud with a consistency of glue, and I was having a blast. The support crew was spot on and having running hard. Cooking, shuttling, wrenching, and keeping our spirits high. As Ted Nugent said back in the 70’s. “Lets here it for my crew!” I got cleaned up, chowed down some more, and finally laid my head down on a pillow to just rest a while. Sleep was not happening but it sure felt good to just rest and stretch my back out. Michael came in the house about 11PM and the demons had a firm hold. He said he just could not go back out in the dark but said he would go again when the sun came up. Man was I pissed. I had to walk outside to chill out and think this thing out. My brain told me that I was pissed at the demons and not Michael so I went inside and we talked out a plan to finish the race in style. I felt for him in the biggest way but we could not let the demons dig deeper and Michael knew it. He did the right thing, chilled out, cleaned up, fueled up, drank up, and planned to go out at daylight while Duckman took Michael’s next night lap. Gonna be a hard one with only one hour rest/refuel.
Bob came in to the house at about 12:20 grinning ear to ear with a 1:28 saying he had to run a lot and lost the baton for a 5 minute penalty. He and I laughed about it saying the mud demons must have stolen it and I will probably hit it and fall on my next lap. Duckman handed off to me around 3:30 AM with major pain in his eyes and a big grin shinin. I was fired up big time. I hit the climb, passed three down the first singletrack and headed down Black Run to hit the Beaver. Duck told me that Beaver was like glue and to watch it. He had hit hard again on his ribs and was bad off. Almost took himself to the Paramedics but decided to finish the damn thing after a 30 minute trailside rest and pep talk. It takes a lot to hurt the Duck so I know he had to reach way down deep inside to finish it out.
Of course I did not take his advice to the hilt and hit the Beaver Dam with lights on high WFO. I was passing riders like crazy which was very cool and then I found myself upside down and airborne. 747 flight into some rocks. Got up, shook it off and took off like the trail was on fire. I was ripping. Train Kept a Rollin running through my brain and all things were good until I hit some junk under the mud that slowed my MO and again over the bars I sailed. Tree 1 Rockboy 0. So I ran a while because you just could not get rollin unless you had speed. The evil ones had concocted a new version of WV mud and super glue which tended to clog up your bike stopping all rolling Mo. I shouldered up the Yeti and ran until I hit the knarly turnpike and rode to the end of Beaver wide open. Ripped up the Cub Climb SSing out of the saddle hell bent for the Powerline DH. Bob had warned me that someone was running water down the Powerline so I took his warning to mean go faster and use NO brakes.
I hit the Powerline wide open in a pure anerobic state with all fingers on the grips. I dropped in and saw the water cascading over the rocks in my lights. Water was spraying up through my lights, shutters were flashing, a large amount of spectators were raging whiskey bottles held high so I just let it go and had the fastest, WFO ride down that sucker I could ever imagine. I am talking warp speed no brakes until the bottom to keep from flipping off the bridge. As I rode across the flats at the bottom I could hear the crowd at the top still raging over my show. I then went into IMBAlicious way fast. Adrenaline good! After the hike up the wall I started down the rooty DH and then hit the Bob Cat Climb to find a rider with blown lights begging me to light his way. I told him to get in front and run like hell until I say ride and we will get him home. He was from DC, name was like Alfonso. We hooked up with another rider at the first ski slope crossing and he jumped on the front to help with me in the back. We rode all the knarly stuff at speed until the XXX danger drop into the Home Run Rock Garden. We popped out of the woods to cross the ski slope, I slammed it in the big ring, and ask the boys to get out of the way dropping in to the rock garden at speed knowing they only had a few hundred yards to finish. I got far right in the rocks and all was good when I suddenly found myself bouncing my shoulder and head off a tree on the far left at the bottom. Suddenly I am stopped dead, track standing across the trail in the rocks with my bar light pointing at my eyes. I simply stomped the pedals, reached down and moved my lights (quickly) and ripped into the final roots big ring surfing the big muddy wave. I finished up the lap with a 1:25. I’ll take it knowing that I hit the ground multiple times which took a lot of time out of my lap but it sure was better than walking like 90% of the riders I was passing. I handed off to Bob with words of caution to simply run Beaver after it stops you cold. He did but not without a few hard hits and handed off to Duckman at about 5AM ready for more. Bob lets us know that he has some way bad pain in the ribs but is ready to go. Duck was in bad pain. He could not take a deep breath which is hard to do when your heart rate is 180 plus for over an hour. He crashed really hard face first further bruising his ribs and said it took him 30-40 minutes to just muster up and get back on the bike. He said he rode past the paramedic station at the bottom of Lower Beaver simply because this was our last Snowshoe and he was not gonna quit. Duck turned a 2:01 lap and it was his last ever on the 24 of Snowshoe course. Take note: On Monday afternoon Duck went to the doctor to find out when he would be dying. He had severely bruised ribs, a torn intercostal, and worst of all a SEVERELY bruised sternum. Bruised sternums kill people so do know that Brian “The Duckman” Archer is the toughest man I know. Will race with him until the end and beyond. A 2:01 lap may not be the best but he beat the demons and brought that Yeti across the line. Proud to ride with ya is all I can say.
Michael went out after Duck with plans on a two hour lap but turned a 1:27 again. Good lap but I was not there waiting for him due to the two hour plan. No big deal cause we were really stoked he turned a faster than expected lap and I took off at an easier pace with plans to run a cruisin 1:30 so Bob would only have to do about the same to finish us up. Conservation mode was on to finish the damn thing. Duck was hurt bad, The demons had a hold on Michael, and Bob and I had the legs but our brains were starting to fuzz out. I rode my last lap as a no dab lap totally clean except for the three planned walking sections in 1:10.01. It showed an official 1:35 lap but I was 25 minutes late relieving Michael. Of course Bob was not there so I just road back to the house, waved at Bob and Paul in the shuttle truck on the way and wondered if I should have told him to rip it up and I would go back out. A cold beer in my hands back at the house explained to me that it was over and all was good. At this point I just could not quit thinking about how good it felt to come in from a lap wearing the Ali blanket for warmth, hot food waiting, crew just taking care of our every need, bike not only tuned and ready but clean and mud free. Man, do we have good friends or what. Bob came in at 12:01:35 to finish us up with 16 laps. I handed him a cold frosty one, Annette loaded him up a giant greasy burger with all the fixins, and life was as good as it gets. Dr. Skips does it again. No matter the place the fun factor was higher than the pain.
Next on the agenda was to head back to the house for some food and cold ones. Bob hit the sack so Alan, Duck, and I loaded up the support crew for a shuttle run down the Props while we three had beer on the Elk River Touring Center Porch. Before the first beer was down Duck proved that you can drink beer while sleeping in a chair. He never opened his eyes or quit snoring so we just kept his glass full and all things were good. After about two hours the crew came rippin in to Center. More cold ones were poured, food was had, and we headed back to the house for some rest. It seems that I just could not rest so I stayed up with Randall, Stephanie (Randall”s better half), John T, Kyle, and Skip till about 2AM. Man, when I crashed I hit hard but it sure made for a great day. Tuesday morning Andy and I loaded up his big Chevy truck and headed south for Tennessee. We hit the house about 4 PM with a warm welcome from the girls. Next on the agenda was a trip to El Matador for some tasty Mexican food from our good friends Rapheal and Becky. Skip and family met up with us and and a good time was had by all. Reunion’s with close one’s just suck because at some point you have to leave.
Barb, Boone, and I loaded up Wed morning and headed north for good old St Louie. We ate our way through TN and KY and made it home in record time. Passing out cold early in the night. What a trip that was. Lets do it again. No pain, No fun, Rob “The Rockboy” Horn