Monday, July 31, 2006
[note: this is one of my pet peeves in racing... if there are no call-ups and you want to get up to the front of the grid the get there early and bake in the sun like everyone else]
there were a few tangles on the trip up the access road, but i managed to get around them and got up the top and made the turn in pretty good position, then turned on the jets to get around as much of the traffic as i could. i got into the bowl right behind kevin dillard of NCVC, figuring i'm just outside the top ten. the trails in the bowl make passing pretty hard, but kevin let me by on the climb out and i put a pretty big gap there pretty quickly and as i was getting out of the bowl got word that i was in 10th with a couple of riders within site so i got up into the big ring on the road transit between the bowl & racecourse sections. passed another couple of riders in the racecourse section, then another when he bit it turning onto the powerline trails.
i was feeling really good so far, riding smoothly and cleanly and on the 2nd trip around the bowl i reeled in the 6th place rider. right before we got onto the road i got around him and tried to get a gap, but couldn't really open anything up. at the bottom of the phase I trails i got past another rider, but i wasn't sure if he was a getting lapped, or 5th place. from the bottom of phase I we turn onto the CCT for a bit, then double back on the creek trail, and then doubleback again onto the CCT. through here i'm usually trying to get some recovery in, get a hit of gel from my flask and some sports drink from my camelbak but i have trouble getting my gel flask back into the little pouch that i use to attach it to my camelbak. as i unconciously slow down while i'm concentrating on the little bottle and the elastic & nylon contraption that's never given me any trouble the two riders behind me slip by. i immediately start chasing and ended up dropping the flask.
i managed to keep up with them for awhile but i'm a little shaken now, starting to tire, and my technical skills aren't what they were on the first lap so they start to build up a small gap and by the time we're heading back to the bowl 6th place is a good 100 yards ahead of me. my second lap time wsa still good, though and was actaully my best lap of the race at just a hair over 29 minutes.
the third lap i rode alone, trying at first to get back up 6th place, but at the end just trying to not lose another place. didn't see a single rider ahead or behind me the entire lap so i had to concentrate on keeping the pressure on myself, since there was no one to do it for me. finished the race where i started the 3rd lap, in 7th at 1:29:17, 3 1/2 minutes behind the winner and about 30 seconds behind 6th place.
the rest of the day was pretty quiet... we saw a little bit of the masters/singlespeed/expert race then did some shopping, tried out the pool at our new place, watched the simpsons, made dinner (heather made summer rolls; i made a beef with sweet basil stir-fry with my homegrown basil and cayanne peppers), and tried a new beer (heavy seas 'red sky at night...' saison).
Friday, July 28, 2006
finally made it to a wakefield race this week... short story is 11th of 49 in sport but the long story has a few unusual things going on it. instead of a long-winded recap that would take long than the race to write i'll stick to the highlights.
arrived with plenty of time to spare, got registered and suited up, then went out for a pre-ride only to realize that the new chain i put on the night before (to replace the broken-and-trailside-fixed one from fairhill) isn't getting along with my old cassette. a rookie mistake, but i've been so rushed recently that i'm not surprised it happened.
jay - who was manning the bike lane tent/van - was able to hook me up with a new cassette, but all he had was a 12-25 cassette. oh well, i thought, it's wakefield it'll do. quick spin around the bowl and the gearing is working fine.
i tried to keep riding as long as i could before lining up for the start so i ended up in the middle of a fairly motley and very large group. passed a few riders on the start, but even then i could tell i was in trouble with the traffic. spent the first lap passing riders when i could - not easy on this course and passing is one of my weaknesses - but a lot of times i was just cruising so i didn't hit the wheel in front of me.
half way around the first lap i caught a bug inside my mouth. i managed to spit it out pretty quickly but i was left with a strange stinging sensation on my tongue. never saw what it was but it must have been a bee. my tongue was sore for the rest of the night and still a bit swollen the next day.
by the start of the 2nd lap it was apparent that my middle chainring was also not getting along with my new chain and so i spent the 2nd & 3rd laps of the race in my 42. as it turns out a 42 paired with a 12-25 is a pretty good combo for wakefield. at the finish i was still having problems with traffic and was with a group of 4 riders all within 5 seconds of each other but the new finish with a loose downhill turn right before the finishing straight left no room for a sprint.
my gap to 1st was a little over 2 minutes and my first lap took 17:30. the 2nd & 3rd were right around 15:20. next week i'm pushing my way up front at the start.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
the race started fairly calmly... we were a big group, around 40 in sport 30-34 but a long fireroad section allowed us to sort ourselves out and get most of the stronger riders up towards the front. as i turned into the singletrack in round about 10th place the conditions turned from occaisional puddles into a constant ribbon of churned up mud. conditions were difficult and bikes were getting muddy very quickly. there was some moving around in the group, taking places on the climbs, losing one occaisionally in the endless super tight twisty singletrack that is fairhill, but for the most part i spent the first 1/3 of the race steadily moving up through the field.
i had some minor chainsuck issues on a couple of climbs that cost me a couple of places but those were quickly regained and the chainsuck disappeared. coming into rough stong bridge with a 45-degree incline i noticed the riders in front dismounting and walking and remembered doing the same last year, but felt good, put in a little burst and rode up & over it, passing two riders in the process. a couple of times i was able to stay upright and riding on technical climbs that forced other riders off and i was able to get around them.
about a 1/3 of the way into the race my back wheel clipped something and sent me tumbling off the bike, only to see a 1/2 dozen riders pass me while i got myself back together. after that i found myself riding badly for a while - a couple of dabs and some tentative riding - but slowly i started pulling back the riders who passed me after my fall and used some long field climbs to put time on other riders. this pattern continued for most of the rest of the race... gain time on the climbs, lose it in the twisty sections, but overall moving up. i was riding comfortably, feeling much better than last year where i was having trouble climbing by the end of the race.
towards the end of the race the course got a little more muddy again and a little rocky and my chainsuck came back, only this time a lot worse. looking down at my chain it looked like there was a kink that was causing the problems, so i stopped and had a closer look... turned out i had a link of my chain that was about to explode, so i had to stop to and break out the chain tool to pull the bad link out and re-join the chain. in the process i probably lost 10 minutes and 5-10 places. i rode the last mile of the course re-energized thanks to my little break and felt strong at the finish.
in the end i was 18th of 40+ in my class in a time that was slower than last year, but felt a lot better. i'm not sure where i was before my chain failure, but looking at the results i think i'd have been 8th or 11th. my time was longer than last year, but i felt a lot better and for my first race of the year, and my 2nd time on a mountain bike in almost 4 months, i'm pretty happy.