Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ouachita: Race Day

Race morning I was a full on shit-show of nerves and lack of social skill. I am realizing that as I become more nervous I become much less social. After eating a few bites of oatmeal, nearly throwing up on Carter and Damian when they joined us for breakfast, and doing my morning business I changed, lined up, and decided that the race was all up to me.

Single speed, road rollout. I lined up at the front, hung on at my pace as long as I could, stole drafts from most of the race as it rolled by, and eventually it turned to gravel.  I had to tell Sir Geared there was no way I would let him pull me down the road by holding his hand. Fucker. I don't know what is worse: He thought I needed help or some sorry sacks of shit actually let people pull them during a race. I wasn't rude to him. I told him "I will do this by myself" and kept spinning. I digress for the moment.

There were some low water crossings people wanted to go real slowly through and I kept pushing my pace, the road started to roll, and suddenly there was a huge line of people 2 abreast up the road ahead of me in their granny gear. I kept doing what I was doing until we turned a corner and the road turned up. I dug in a little and went hard to pass as many people as possible before the single track started. I was out of the saddle doing my best "I'm not even breathing hard" face when I pass Sir Geared and said "I told you I would do it myself". I never saw Sir Geared again.

In the single track I yelled at people I knew to have a good time, yelled at one group of guys that wouldn't respond to my requests to pass. I get it, we are racing. But we are racing different categories and you are using your granny gear at mile 7 of 60. I am sitting behind you asking nicely to pass. I will cuss at you and run past in the bushes. With my dickhead move of the race out of the way I kept doing my thing.

At some point Andrea flatted so I passed her. She caught me a while later and we rolled near each other for a while. We hit the road and she used her fancy shifting parts to go more than 14mph and I did my best to not spin too fast on the road. I over ate going into the feedzone and then started to feel sick. I had went out a little harder than I needed to. I was running a pretty safe gear on the single speed but it was a little too much on the climbs. I tried to ride everything, I know I don't do well when I have to walk a lot so I just stayed on the bike and stayed cruising the best I could. I wasn't feeling that great. I was starting to have a bad time.

I got my stomach under control (which was great, I had never recovered from that before) and started plugging at the rest of the course. The guys from Arkansas Outside told me I was the man of the day because I was rigid and singlespeed. I told them I felt like the idiot of the day. I may have felt better but there is photographic proof that I looked at least twice as bad as usual.

I did my best to finish strong. Another single speeder had caught me about 6 miles from the finish. He had pipped me in the last few miles of Syllamo in 2012. We chatted about the day, how we both rode rigid single speeds, how the weather had been nice all day - no rain but not much sun, how his bike was pretty cool. I had been slowing him down and resting well. We were out of the single track and all gravel at this point. I knew we had a few more miles to go. . . so I attacked as hard as I could when we hit a roller. Full bore, high cadence, up and over the hill balls out sprint fest. I saw he wasn't giving up so I sat up a little to make a turn. The course marshall said "3/4 mile climb" and he said "I don't care about our placing" I said "I am going hard to the line" and proceeded to go full bonkers til I got to the finish. Including the last little climb to the finish where I went hard as I could and put myself about 1 knob in front of a geared rider.

All in all a great weekend, great learning experience. I didn't hit all of my hopeful goals but met some of my realistic ones. I am taking this year as a chance to gain racing experience and become more comfortable racing so I can hopefully do even better next time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Popping my Ouachita Challenge cherry.

This isn't my first race of the year, but we will get to those in a little while. This is the most recent race because it just happened yesterday so I will give my best description of the race. I raced my brand new Specialized Carve SL single speed, set up nearly how it came out of the box. I promise, I will get to that too. So, here goes.

So, Friday after work I took my brand new, never been ridden bike out for a short spin. I rode it around for about 50 minutes and just got a feel for how it wheelies. I came home, drank a beer, decided I needed to wash clothes, and got going packing up for the race on Sunday. I got a little bit of my stuff ready but I knew we weren't leaving until 10:30 or so on Saturday so I took it easy Frdiay night. Saturday morning I got up, packed most of my stuff up, cleaned out Andrea's car so we could drive to Arkansas and shred some gnar.

We got to Arkansas after much driving in the car. If you haven't seen it head over to Brickhouse Racing and check out how much fun your next trip will be if I get to tag along. Once in Arkansas I immediately started shredding the pump track and getting a little too loose on the pump track. The pump track is great, except I can do two hard laps and be blowing through the turns feeling my front tire try to roll off the rim. The bmx days of 60psi in a front tire have taught me to expect a little bit more bite and consistency in my front end than a 20psi 29er tire will ever offer.

After goofing off a bit, setting up camp, and me acting like I wasn't nervous we changed to go for a "preride" of sorts. It wasn't really a preride because we didn't touch the race course but we did ride some similar trail so I would know what to expect in the morning. We ripped a little, took it pretty easy (as easy as you can on a single speed in the hills), and went back to camp. After some replenishing of supplies and picking up our packets (because that's what you do at packet pickup) it was time to eat dinner and call it a night. Sleeping in a tent that almost touches the ground, while being cold, and listening to dogs bark through ear plugs is a bad time. Take my word.

The rest will have to come later. Now is time forJust Riding Along