Monday, August 1, 2011

Darkhorse 40 2011 (three's a charm)

lucky charm

Back in August 2007, my dad and I ventured to Newburgh, NY for our first try at the Darkhorse 40 (as a duo, twenty miles each).
While staging for the race, the promoters were shouting out trivia questions.
"Name the founder of WOMBATS and tell me what it stands for."
"Jackie Phelan! Women's Mountain Bike and Tea Society."
I was handed a crisp twenty-dollar bill as a prize for knowing the correct answer (what can I say? I read a lot of Dirt Rag back in the day and had an affinity for the history of mountain biking).
Shortly after pocketing the cash, we were given the go...
That race left such an impression on me.
That particular race, four years ago, remains one of the most fun times I have ever had on bike. 
After a memorable adventure and gratifying race with my dad, I scrawled "Darkhorse 40 8/07 Jackie Phelan WOMBATS" on my twenty with an aqua Sharpie.
Every time I've raced since then, that twenty-dollar bill has been stashed in my Camelbak or jersey pocket as a reminder to always push hard and never lose sight of keeping the race fun.
It's the closest thing I have to a good luck charm.

TBR arrived Saturday in Newburgh, NY three teams strong (Ron & Kathleen, Me & Bill, Mike & Jeff).
After expolring the course, we hit the local shop and made our way to Camp TBR for the night.
Of our accomodations at Cynthia's, Kathleen remarked, "You know when you see something and you're like, Nah, that can't be it, that's too good to be true?"
Yes, it's exactly like that.
I was excited to catch up with Cynthia and share the experience with my friends.
Once again, Cynthia treated us to a perfect homemade pre-race dinner.
Staying at her home is one of my favorite parts of racing the Darkhorse...I'll stop gushing now.

The Race:
I love this event because the trails are fast and flowy with features we don't have much of around here. Although there is not much elevation gain overall, the big shale-y up & overs make for some punchy little climbs. The team format lends itself perfectly for banging out a fast twenty-mile lap (whereas, someone like me would have to slow down considerably in order to pace myself for the full forty miles).
If you ask me, these trails are meant to be enjoyed at their much. fun.

Of our three teams, Bill, Ron, and Jeff went out first.
Bill showed up at the transition and sent me off on my lap about a minute ahead of Ron.
Needless to say, it didn't take long before Kathleen flew by me on the fire road.
"Have fun out there..." she said.
I did have fun out there.
All six of us had fun out there.
And for sharing my story about my lucky twenty-dollar bill with the promoter, I was rewarded with a shiny new set of XTR pedals.
Because that is how the Darkhorse folks roll.

sorry, everybody else, but she's my favorite teammate


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