Monday, April 23, 2012

I won't make any

No excuses.

Winding Trails was Sunday.  Conditions were perfect for the Cat 3 9 AM start.  A little rain in the overnight really firmed up the sandy bits making the new start pretty much perfect.  Not enough rain to create any mud on the course or to slick up the logs, roots, and bridges.  So yes, perfect.

I was in a field of 12 racers.  As we lined up I took a new approach this year and actually took a front position.  I mainly did this because I wanted a good inside position off the start up the sandy incline and was hoping I could get into some singletrack first.  As I looked around I recognized a coupe racers from one of the later races last year (Hodges Dam) and instantly knew there were some fast guys here today.

As we take off and were nearing the new start turn to the left I get squeezed and a couple guys jump in front.  The pace slows in front of me as one rider dabs on the one sketchy turn in the new start, but not enough to really disrupt anyone else so all is good.  As we cut out of the first TINY singletrack section I hammer it to gain back some spots before the singletrack.  I'm able to grab two positions.

Throughout the race I end up yo-yoing with two other riders... never really sure where that puts me in the pack.  The lead group seems to get away about 3/4 through the first lap never to be seen again.  I felt really strong on the hills, always taking a rider or making up serious ground.  I'm able to accelerate out of the singletrack, and for the most part, hold off any attacks.  But I feel sluggish in the tight, twisty singletrack, and anytime a racer gets in ahead of me they seem to pull away... and it's back to making up ground on the fire roads or climbs.

Coming into the second lap (final lap) I'm able to take one of my yo-yoing buddies putting me in 1st of our group of three.  As I'm getting up to the singletrack I hear some clicking behind me, something is wrong with the riders bike but it is unclear what.  I suggest it sounds like their derailleur is clipping their spokes and they should really check it out as that could end up being a costly repair if ignored.  He suggests everything seems to be shifting fine.  In between two singletrack sections he drops the hammer and sneaks by right before entering the next section.  I take the opportunity to examine his bike from behind and can see his derailleur is not in contact with anything... I shout to him that everything looks fine... maybe it's a spoke??  BAM!!  As I'm leaned over a little to see his derailleur I clip a tree full speed with my shoulder and forearm coming to a complete and instant stop.

I don't think about pain, I don't think about lost ground, I quickly look behind to see if anyone is there not wanting to block the trail.  No one.... so I hop back on and get to chasing.  On the singletrack climb I'm able to half the distance I've lost but I hear another rider coming from behind... our other musketeer!  Now I'm stuck between chasing and keeping in front...  This far in the race he knows me strengths and I hear him pushing to enter the singletrack in front of me.  I'm able to keep my speed up and get their first... this time.  About halfway through the lap he gains the lead into some singletrack and he takes off.  I'm pushing to keep up but can't seem to catch him...

All of a sudden I'm in no mans land and I've got nothing.  I keep thinking... ok there are a couple more places to gain time and catch up... but with each passing second those opportunities are thinning.  I need to push it in the singletrack.  I need to go faster.  I'm almost done, I can't finish with ANYTHING.  It all gets left on the course.  But without a wheel to chase I can't seem to keep things up.  I've got to crank through everything, STOP coasting!!!

I fly up the wooded climb before the road section heading toward the STEEP of the course.... hit the pavement and slam the gears down and hammer.... I don't see anyone...  climb the backside of the STEEP and I see some riders running the STEEP... none of which are the guys I'm trying to catch - so hopefully that means they haven't hit it yet and I can might be able to catch them.  Make it up 1/2-3/4 of the STEEP and jump off and run.  HAMMER down to the fire road and take off.  I can catch someone, I'll be able to reel them in on that last section of fire road before the climb to the finish....  as I hit the last patch of fire road I don't see anyone in front of me....

There will be no reeling.  Through the trees I can see the third (or now second) musketeer climbing into the finish - there is too much ground to cover for me to overtake him now.... but I put it all out there and push it through the finish.  At the finish I find the rider with the mystery click (the final musketeer - finish first in our group).  His rear tire is completely flat.  He picked up a metal wire entering the second lap.  It was bent, puncturing his tire and then clipping his frame with each rotation.  He was running tubeless, which probably let him make it through the lap with it in his tire, but it was never able to seal as the wire probably kept working the hole open and letting his sealant shoot out.  He was wearing a go pro and said he endo-ed over a log toward the end which should make for an interesting shot!  But  he also commented that his footage would be heavy with myself and the other musketeer...  I'll have to search around for it.

At the end I felt like I was middle of the pack.  And I guess in reality I was in the middle of the pack, pack.  But coming in third in my trio put me at 10th overall I found out when results were posted up.  Not where I was hoping to be in any way, shape, or form.  I really got lost whenever I found myself alone in the woods.  I wasn't able to stay on it as much as I would have liked.

But I had fun.  I was able to talk to some cool people - a couple guys from the pre-ride.  That kid who had the mechanical during the pre-ride raced.  Saw him as I was standing around at the finish.  He came up and shook my hand.  Said it was tougher than he thought to do the full 2 laps, but he did it and he had fun!  Before leaving his mother came up to say hi as well.  That was really great.

Caught a glimpse of Charlie and chatted with TJ before their race.  Took pictures of the Cat 2/lap 2 and Cat1/Pro lap 2 races as well.  So I'll have to get those pictures up for racers to grab if they like them.

I realized after my race I never set goals for myself this season... so I'll have to do that and get those in my head before the next race... Massasoit Lung Opener which is this Sunday.  I've just got to keep on riding.  Bottom line.  No excuses.

Random...  I've always appreciated the Niner slogan printed on the bike.

... and apparently you can get a sticker... from someone, somewhere...

But I always find my motivating statements to myself to be much more vulgar....  something along the lines of "Fuck You."  Which kinda sucks in the sense that I sometimes find myself saying it out loud - and I certainly wouldn't want another rider to think I was swearing at them... It's more along the lines of "fuck you go faster!!"....

Best.... line... ever!!

Might have to get a little motivational "Maybe Fuck Yourself" on the HiFi.

Bottom line.  Race on Sunday.  Let's go faster!!

1 comment:

  1. Great write up!

    Those times when you are racing without anyone to race are tough. You really have to concentrate on keeping on the gas. You have to make yourself hurt which isn't really how people are wired. It takes a little time but you'll get there.