Thursday, May 23, 2013

Cat One or Bust

I wake up this morning to find this in my blogger feed:

Sorry joe aguero.... I don't need to "Lose Weight Today."  Why the hell has this taken over my blog feed??  I did a little investigating, cause I'm all crafty like that, and it appears TJ has neglected his blog for far to long and Mr. joe aguero snaked his address.  Hence, the flood of weight lose tips of uncertain validity.

Whelp, looks like is coming out of the rotation.  Ahhhhh, all better.

Ok, race report time (finally)!!!

The Riverfront Classic is on my home turf I suppose, with it being at the Whitewater Center and all.  I figured if I'm gonna race it, this would be the race to break out the Glow Worm.  I had ridden the Glow Worm out at the Whitewater Center once before making the decision, and felt that I was able to clean everything on it.  But, to decide if I was going to race it I felt I should get back out there to really test if the 20 in the back would be too spiny on the vertically challenged sections.  On it's maiden voyage out there I had skipped Carpet, so when it came to Goat Hill I was fine and dandy - even enjoying it.  On my "pre-ride," pushing the pace, I hit everything that would  be included in the race... and the Carpet - Goat Hill combo produced less than stellar results - namely dry heaving 3/4 the way up.  You can read about that ride here.

Strava told me I PR'd a whole bunch of stuff on that ride, so I figured I'd be able to stay competitive (fingers crossed) on the Glow Worm.  A few days before the race someone on the local forums posted that the course was being adjusted and Figure 8 would be out and the powerline climb on the back side of Goat would be added.  I didn't know how to take this as this wasn't coming from the race promoter and I was figuring/guessing/HOPING this was just someone busting balls on the forums.  You see, I NEEDED Figure 8 to help thin the pack and allow me to pass/build a gap on the extended climb out.  That was my master plan really!!  Get up that thing fast, put in some time and then just go.  Hoping it would give me enough cushion to make it to each subsequent climb to gain more time...

I arrive at the Whitewater Center feeling tired and TomTom (who was course marshaling for the day - even though he could have killed it out there, so I guess thanks for not racing against me!!) confirmed that Figure 8 was indeed out.

CRAP.  Not even with an exclamation point.

I was deflated and my brain was scrambling.  Great, now how are things going to shake out?  I registered and headed out to see what the beginning would look like sans Figure 8.  We lost about a mile on the overall course.  We totally by-pass that extended climb I so badly wanted/needed (there was still a glimmer of hope we'd somehow still maintain that) and instead take a short climb to the fire road on top of the ridge line before descending.  The climb wasn't bad, and pretty short, so I was sure it could keep me competitive - especially with the fire road and downhill to follow.  I also checked my top speed - max at about 15/16 spinning my brains out... not going to hold anyone off in the flats, that's for sure.

I took off as fast as I could at the start and got into the first section of singletrack probably about 8th or so.  Things are slow going as people are bunching.  We break out into the open by the whitewater and spin city commences.  I'm surprised no one flies by me here so I hold as close as I can to the guys in front of me as we pop into the new section bypassing Figure 8.  I hit the climb and instantly pass the two riders in front of me.  I put in as much as I can to gain some space as I'm thinking they will retake me on the ridge.  They don't.  I hit the downhill and blast any incline I see.  I can see riders in front so I keep on keepin on.

I pass another rider and I see in front of me a familiar rider, John Dooley.  He's a regular podium contender so that is a shot of energy right there.  I'm guessing that puts me in about 4th then so I try to reel him in.  I gain ground on climbs, but quickly loose ground on anything going anywhere but up.  The last rider I passed has stuck with me - and this is where I start cursing not having that initial climb out of Figure 8 to give me space.  He asks to pass at the beginning of Carpet, and I let him... but am then stuck on his ass as we start climbing.

He wipes out as we approach the sharp switchback at the bottom of the actual carpet climb and I am able to squeeze by on the off camber trail.  I clear the carpet, passing two riders of unknown category on the climb and keep moving.  I still think I can see John up there so I push.  Dread starts to set in as I know I've been pushing too hard this early just trying to maintain my place on the flats with Goat Hill up next.  I'm not so worried about Goat itself - it's the straight lined climb up the backside on the powerlines I'm not looking forward to.

They took us into Goat up the fire road instead of the more straight and rocky singletrack approach so I had to make a hard right turn up and over a steep root to get into the climb, my back wheel spins out and I dab.  I pull to the side for the rider that has been following me and hop back on to pursue him.  He dismounts at the next switchback, forcing me off my bike.  As we get back on our bikes and start climbing I yell to him that I'm going to need to pass when he can, we are approaching another switchback so I figured he'd wait until after.   He doesn't, he suddenly pulls to the side to stop.  I was close to him trying to maintain my momentum and my front wheel rubs his as he swerves off to the side - sapping my energy.  I somehow maintain my balance and regain some semblance of momentum and power over the roots on the switchback.  By this time two riders had caught up to us and one jumps the inside line forcing me to pause to let him go.  I had to hold a tree to stay up and I let his team mate follow behind him.  I jump on their wheel and again need to pass as they aren't pushing as hard as I need to - but I'm stuck.

I follow them down the backside of Goat and we exit to the powerline climb where my heart drops.  "Spin as far up as you can and stand and power the rest."  I don't make it nearly as far as I know I need to sitting and that cracks my willpower.  I stand and power but decide to save my legs as I still have Toilet Bowl coming.  I hope off and hike it, jumping back on for the last quarter of the climb so I can carry something (speed... dignity) back into the trails.  I've lost the riders who passed me on the switchback, and I'm uncertain how many spots I lost on the powerline climb (wasn't sure what classes those passing were in).

The "deceptive" climb getting into the fire road before Way Station was brutal, but I forced my way through and tucked and spun to Way Station.  Did what I could to keep speed up but I didn't feel like I was catching anyone.  I hit Toilet Bowl with all I had and caught and passed two riders there (I think one was the rider who had gone down before carpet and had been yo-yoing with me) pushing through the exiting climbs.

At this point we are pretty much done.  Some descending, sharp armored climb then a short singletrack climb out to the finish.  I'm behind a rider,  who I don't believe is in my class, going into the sharp armored climb so I back off to give him space so that he can hopefully clean it so I don't run into it as I power up.  We both cleaned it and I take him instantly as we hit the open fire road.  I'm not sure if he knows how close we are to the end or not, but I put it all down.  Into the singletrack I hit the drop carrying as much speed as I can and I don't stop.  I just keep pushing to the point that I don't even feel the climb out - the Glow Worm is just eating trail up!!  I have to hit the brakes exiting as the trail winds between some close trees and there it is... the finish.  I push the cranks until I could spin no longer and I coast through the finish.  I find a place to ditch the bike and try to do a quick headcount to guess where I finished.  I see about 5 guys I know were in my class and had finished ahead of me so I'm thinking 6th in best case scenario.

I was close with my guess.  Came in 7th.  Would I have finished differently on the HiFi?  Maybe.  Maybe better, maybe worse?  Bottom line, I'm happy that I raced the Glow Worm.  In the end I was still able to push myself and have some fun out there.

Next race is Uwharrie.  I wasn't sure I'd be able to race this one (we close on our new house on the 30th of this month - holy shhh!!) but I just got the go ahead from Annie so I'm in.  Although I'd love to do the climbing with the Glow Worm - I think the HiFi will give a better advantage when it comes to opening up on the downhill sections there.


  1. Good job man. Racing a SS against geared riders is tough, the rythmn is totally different. It's fun though, and the more up/down there is, the more advantage if gives you. Flats are the enemy of a SS.

  2. Thanks man. Yeah, the course change threw a wrench in my race plan, but I did have fun racing it. Next season may turn out to be a full time ss race season.