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Miles of DisComfort Marathon - Comfort, Texas

Posted by: Shannon Boffeli |March 8, 2013 3:31 AM
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Behind Bars with Evan Plews: Miles of DisComfort


Flat Rock Ranch is a fully operation 1300 acre angus cattle and angora goat operation located just five miles outside of Comfort, Texas. In the heart of the Hill Country, owner Jimmy Dreiss with help of local volunteers, has crafted some of the finest trails imaginable out of the rocky desert scrub. Boasting 27 total miles of trail on two separate loops (lower/upper) the ranch is open for riders 10 months out of the year. While there are a few short sections of jeep road and double track that connect the various sections of single track, this is truly a riderís paradise. Dreiss, an avid mountain biker himself, cautions that triple down arrows mean "Jimmy has crashed here at least three times", but even these sections are fun albeit challenging for even an accomplished trail boss. 

 Luckily, I was able to pre-run the trails on Wednesday and while the countless switchbacks, limestone step-ups and cobbled sections were impossible to memorize, I was glad to know the general layout prior to the race. After beautiful, mostly sunny conditions all week we awoke to a misty fog that was heavy enough to coat much of the limestone with its characteristic slime. Glasses were obviously going to be a hassle, and while the air seemed dense to breathe the temperature was warm and comfortable. 

The race began with a mass start on a short climb up a gentle section of jeep road for a quarter mile before entering the nearly endless ribbon of single track. Consisting of two complete laps, this section was bypassed with more single track the second go round. I was intent on staying at the front and entered the trail second position behind David Hanes (Ride Away Bicycles) with series leader Tristan Uhl (Austin Tri Cyclist) right on my wheel. After winning the El Paso Puzzler just six days earlier, I still felt tired and struggled with the accelerations out of every switchback and ledge. I felt I could maintain more momentum at the front, so I passed Hanes briefly, but wasn't able open any margin. He again went ahead and led for about half of the lower loop. 

At some point, Tristan took over and shortly there after, I suffered a partial chain drop followed by a small bobble on a switchback. Uhl seemed to recognize this opportunity and immediately forced the issue opening a gap quickly. I increased my pace but was only able to hold the margin steady. Knowing that I needed to make up a five-point differential to overtake him in the series, I resigned myself to passing David and consolidating second position. By the end of the lower loop, I had a decent advantage over third place, but was still about 45 seconds behind the leader.

The upper loop consisted of a section of rolling double track followed by a more sustained trail climb to a rocky, technical, ridge traverse. Knowing that Tristan excels in these situations, I was glad to nail back his advantage before the climbing began in earnest. Now more comfortable with his pace, I followed until he made a slight mistake at the top and then rode by. I was glad to be at the front in the ensuing gnar, but I had no illusions of opening any gap. However, it wasn't long before I noticed that one had quickly formed. I pressed the pedals as hard as the slippery limestone would allow and rode a mostly clean traverse through the most technical section of the course. Putting my head down I only hoped I could maintain my advantage through another 30 plus miles of racing!

Meanwhile Tristan had fallen hard on the rocky drop exciting the traverse and was going backward--ultimately deciding to abandon the race. Hanes also began to suffer misfortune and began to tumble back through the field finally placing seventh on the day. Local legend Will Black (Lonestar), who had been leading the single speed race and in the top five overall, also suffered a race ending flat tire. Knowing none of this, I just kept steady at the front of the race intent on riding smooth and mistake free. While I didn't feel strong at anytime during the day, my result proved otherwise as I was able to hang on for the win and set a new course record!

In the women's open category, Alison Kinsler (NoTubes) also racked up her second win in as many weeks to move up the overall series leader board.

Beat up and tired, I was super stoked that my bike had erased so much of the relentless rumble and my tires staved off the countless sharp rocks and pokey things. Most unbelievable was doing such a good ride on terrain I am not known to excel at and overtaking the series lead to post victory in Texas Marathon Series! Vindicated that my lack of Holiday discipline hadn't completely ruined my 2013 objectives I was glad to return to the cold rain and some serious homework back in Oregon.


Miles of DisComfort Results (54 miles)

Open Men

1. Evan Plews (Ibis Cycles/REALL) 3:44:10

2. Andy Lee 3:55:10

3. Adam Gaubert (Wooly Mammoth) 3:59:23


Open Women

1. Alison Kinsler (NoTubes) 4:37:19

2. Melanie Etherton (Cycle Progression) 4:40:39

3. Kate Sherwin (Austin Flyers) 4:41:59


TMBRA Marathon Series Overall (best four of six races)

Open Men

1. Evan Plews (Ibis Cycles/REALL) 222pts

2. Tristan Uhl (Austin Tri Cyclist) 204

3. Rick Weatherald (Athletes on Track/Subaru) 187

4. Matt Barkley (Orange Seal/Texas Cycle Werks) 149

5. Josh DeBoisblanc (Bicycle Sport Shop) 145


Open Women

1. Sarah Shanks (Soundpony) 217

2. Alison Kinsler (NoTubes) 120

3. Jennifer Taylor (Bicycle Sport Shop) 102


Robert Garlow 02/02/2013 8:19 PM
I did not take the third picture.
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