Friday, August 16, 2013

Wednesday night fun at Copperhead!

This was another summer training race, which happened to be the series finale, at Country Park on the Copperhead trail in Greensboro. I left work about 15mins early to help avoid some of the evening traffic, and I was able to get home, change, and arrive at the venue with about 20mins to get ready. Well, 10mins after finding the nearest crapper! LOL After takin care of business I had to swap out my gearing from Fontana for a bigger gear, 34/17.

At the start line it was clear it would be fun with a few good riders comin out for the ride! As we took off down the road I quickly sat-in behind the leader in 2nd position. The legs were already tingling so my plan was to hold this spot while waiting for them to catch-up with the race pace and smooth out. As the road pitched up prior to the course turning off into the woods, a couple riders came by. As the trail turned I jumped the ditch and tree roots to re-take my 2nd position behind the leader. This is where it got funny, as I was yelled at from behind by a certain rider "Come-on Bart! You know you can't hang with him!" I didn't even respond, as it was all I could do to keep from laughing! I've beaten this rider, and all others head-to-head on my SS while they were on their gears in REAL races! But hey, maybe that "rider" knew I had not touched my bike for 10 days, 4 of which I was on the beach drinking liquor and havin fun!?!? LOL!!! It didn't matter to me, as I was just out there to have fun and get my body back to racing to prep for this weekend! Also, unlike that "rider" I don't just show up for races I think I can win, or even worry about having what others call a disadvantage of racing a SS in a geared/open class! You can't expect to get better or become the best if you don't challenge yourself! Just sayin'...  ;)

Anyhow, as we raced on it was about at the 1/2 lap mark when he finally came around moving me back to 3rd, which I was not going to challenge, as per my note above, my legs/body were obviously still in shock due to the last week and a half of havin fun off of the bike! By the end of lap2 I had dropped all the way back to 9th with 10th breathin on my back! Then as lap 3 began my legs finally started to come around, literally! I continued to focus on not free-wheeling at all keeping a constant pedal stroke to make up as much time as possible. By the 1/2 lap to go point I was finally pulling back a rider. However, I still had 10th pressin to pass, which I ignored while holding my pace and making myself big which worked, as he attempted to pass but couldn't get enough speed to do so! As we entered a switchback section I was finally on 8th's wheel puttin on hard pressure nearly rubbin tires several times. I was startin to feel the hurt and kept from yellin at 8th to get off the brakes as I thought he was holding me back due to havin a teammate just ahead in 7th. Numerous times he kept yelling at him that he had to "GO!" In the last single track section I was very nervous, as I continued to look for a pass but couldn't get the bike up to speed enough on 2 climbs to make it so I had to sit-in. All I had left was the final descent. This descent drops down an area riddled with wash-out and roots in the center section and trees and easy lines to the sides. I was hopin they 2 riders would take the longer left "safe" line so I could take my line straight down the middle jumping over all the nasty stuff that no one else was riding to take the lead....Crap! They both took the right line! I risked it all and pressed hard into my center line and once again cleared the obstacles, but all I was able to do was come out onto their wheels. As we hit the pavement, which had a slight descent to the finish, I chose not to give up, it's just not in me! As one of the riders went wide right I came up along side of him and got on his teammate's wheel. I was now spinning at a ridiculous cadence (~130rpm?!). THen with about 50yds to go I saw him droppin his gears and I started to sprint, but I couldn't stand up! If I had I probably would've gone straight forward over the handlebars! As I spun I glanced right to see rider 2 falling off the pace, then just 25yds to go I saw rider 1 sit-up conceding his 7th place finish to me...WOW!!! I couldn't believe I pulled it off!!! I was SPENT!!! What a way to wake up the body for this weekend's fun! Yup, I have at least 1 more race as of now. I will be racing Sunday back in Woolwine, VA at the 6hrs of Shiner's Revenge, on the SS of course! See you all there!!! ;)

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The, not so fun, but fun, "Dam Jam"! Feel me?! LOL

August 3rd took us to Fontana Dam, NC for the series finale of the US Cup East! Going into this race I had just a 2pt lead. I was only able to do the minimum required races (7 with this final race being mandatory). My competitor was able to do more, including the make-up race to replace a lower scoring event. This placed a lot of pressure on me to perform this weekend! Early Saturday morning Gabor and Rachel met at my house to carpool with me. We arrived at the venue, as planned, at noon for an easy pre-ride and registration. We then went back to the hotel to relax for the few hours prior to my STXC bonus points event which was scheduled to start at 7:30PM. For the pre-ride I was not sure what gear to use, so I went with a 34/18. The ride went good, but I decided that I would ride a 19 for the XC on Sunday. I did decide to run the 18 for the STXC; however, hindsight I would've also ran the 19 for it as well and a 20 for the XC...but we'll get to that...

The STXC was a start on a ball field wrapping around a couple of play areas and up the short hill, with no flow into the climb, and back down. The format was 10mins + 2laps. At the yell of "GO" I had a great start. As we sprinted to the 1st corner a pile-up commenced to the left, as SS was sent off with the CAT2 amateurs in 1 big wave. Sensing this I guess I was a little too polite as I moved right to allow my competitor, who was to my left right next to the pile-up, some room to clear the carnage. I could've easily held my line and possibly forced him into it, but I guess it's just not me. ;) As we hit the corner I was just 2 back from the front, and after corner 2 I attacked and took the lead to get out of the mess of amateur riders. I led for a few laps then started to back-off to conserve energy for the finish and the XC on Sunday morning. Just over 8mins in my competitor finally caught up and I grabbed his wheel as he came by. I would now sit-in and wait for the I thought! After just 2 more laps we got caught-up with some younger lap riders and he was able to get a gap as they slid almost to a stop in a corner in front of me. I tried to give an effort, but it was not worth it. I was not feeling it. I finished just about 10secs back at the finish. Now my lead was just 1pt going into the final XC!?!? What was worse is that the final race breaks any ties in points, even though I had 5 race wins to his 2 for the season!? After watching the Pro STXC Robert came up and asked for some spacers. To my surprise he said he was possibly racing SS with me...this was gonna be fun! I then went for dinner at the lodge, as they had a pasta special with salad bar for just $10! This was the worst I ordered my endless ice water and the special I was told they were out! After about 15mins they finally came out with a small plate of spaghetti and sauce, not sure where they found it, probably left-overs from the Golden Corral!!! It also seemed to be too much to get refills on my water, and attempting to do it myself brought a complaint from the waitress...needless to say I got a few cups to go, and she got NO TIP!!

Sunday morning came quick! I had a great night's sleep, that is after Matt and Barrett showed-up around 10:30PM and fought like a married couple for another 30mins. Then again in the morning when Matt decided to take yet another 40min shower while Barrett was tryin' not to crap himself! LOL I prepped with my normal pre-race oatmeal and water, along with an extra ClifBar knowin' I had a long hard day ahead. Then after loading up my stuff, and that of Gabor and Rachel, we were off to the venue. While warming-up I was getting nervous. My legs were not feeling good at all!! They still felt like they did at the END of the STXC!!! The 2 positives were: Robert was in the group to help push me, and while spinning I found each of the competitors for the day and verified I had bigger gearing (even with the small 34/19). Robert and my competitor of concern were both riding 34/20. Robert then rolled-up and said he had a plan, and I was all ears! He would lead us into the single track then, due to his still healing shoulder, he would let me by just before the rocky descents where he would take it slow and easy while I gapped the field. I was thinking, "this could work!" I knew from experience, and statements by my competitor, that he was weak in the descents and technical sections which would hinder him trying to press for a pass in this scenario.

Then it was GO TIME! I took a couple revs off the start line with my competitor at my side. We were even until the road turned upward, then I could look down at my feet and see his shadow. As the road pitched skyward again I stood up to hold my cadence. As I looked down I was surprised to not see a shadow. I chose right then to not look back and stepped it up a notch instead! As the road came to a false flat it turned left and pitched yet again, and at this point I started to labor in breathing, and just as it came to a plateau I looked over my shoulder to see a huge gap. Also a great sight of Robert bridging up!! As I sat-in on my saddle we approached some fans who started heckling me, "Boy, you sure are breathing hard!" To which I replied, "Yup, and I'm gappin' the field! Hahahaaa" Just then Robert rolled by and we entered the single track together and he commenced the "pushing" to keep me on the gas. Still, as planned, he backed off just before the descents to let me by so he could be cautious. Half-way through the descents I was now approaching the lead female Pro (Kym), as we had already passed all the others before hand, as well as most of the 50+ masters who start minutes ahead of us at each event. As Kym and I hit the last right-hand switch she came almost to a complete stop. This caused me to go wide and almost balance, but then my front wheel hit a big loose rock that I had forgotten was on the trail and over I went tipping into the corner down onto my right side. I got up immediately, but as soon as I jumped on the steed I saw the chain had been knocked-off. Just as I got it back on and hit the pedals Robert caught up. He again commenced the push to get me going.

We pushed on hard then we came to the center section of the trail where it is a loose gravel road with an insane pitch skyward! As I planned from the start I dismounted as soon as I left the lower section of asphalt where the gravel started and began the long walk to the top. As I looked back, just before the top, I saw my competitor about 400yds back. As I jumped on Robert immediately got on me again and we were cruisin' passin' numerous CAT1 riders from the earlier start waves. By the last climb going into the final descent, called the Turkey Shoot which is part of the Super-D (downhill course), we were out of sight of my chaser and I bombed the descent. I nearly flew off the first berm which had to be more than 8' high I was going so fast and let out an excited yell! (Checkin' Strava afterwards, I posted the fastest run of the day on this section!) As Robert caught back up for the start of the climb of lap 2 we cranked hard to ensure we stayed out of sight of my chaser. Robert claimed he saw him, I didn't, but I had to trust him. Lap 2 was more of the same, except in some of the rough stuff I dropped my chain another 5x's!!! The last time Robert had caught me and as he rode by he yelled at me to fix my hanger. I gave it a tweak, which I was hesitant to do fearing I might break it. Luckily it went well and it was smooth for the remainder of the race. Then on that final climb to the final descent Robert disappeared! I couldn't tell if he dropped-out, or if he just hammered it out! Just as I came out of the descent his wife, and fantastic team supporter, Phylicia, told me he was just ahead. As I popped out onto the road climb to the finish I saw him about 50yds up. As we approached the finish he hesitated as to let me by for the win, but I insisted that he take it as he more than deserved it for his help! What an AWESOME teammate and team owner, helping me to a win by nearly 7 minutes!!! I truly hope I can continue to race with him in years to come! As I crossed the line behind him I zipped up the jersey and dismounted to carry my bike over the line above my head in victory as the 2013 US CUP EAST SINGLE SPEED CHAMPION!!! What a ride, what a season, what a rush! Great competitors pushed me in each and every race, props to them all for the great competition and fun times! I am glad to have made a few more friends in these would-be competitors on the course for race day!!!

STXC start carnage!

In the clear to take the hole-shot!

XC finish!!

Robert Marion = Awesome teammate!
I just need to coach him on the bottle! LOL

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Time to get your "ROCK" on!

July 20th took us to US XC-SS Nationals at Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Macungie, PA
Leading up to Saturday's race the week was hoppin' with posts on Facebook from friends who were able to go up early in the week. I was stuck reading posts as I wouldn't be arriving until Friday morning. Posts included numerous photos and rantings about how technical and rocky the course was. They were "freakin'-oot"! LOL I was pretty stoked, as this is the type of terrain that I excel in. Granted, I was a bit nervous knowing that the climbing would be tough, and weighin'-in at aboot 40lbs more than my average competitor I knew I would have my work cut out for me!

The drive went ok, but with the family along for their support, we had to make a few extra stops. This caused my arrival to be slightly delayed to be able to get in a pre-ride, but then USAC (aka USUCK) had kept changing their event schedules, so I would've missed the pre-ride time-slot anyhow. So, I found my team's trailer then I got registered. Once I was done we headed to the hotel to get a room. We were initially going to camp, but thankfully there was a room available as the temps were ridiculously high with humidity (90's for both!). This would've made for a miserable experience and definitely hinder my race effort. We then met up with Matt for lunch, prior to his race that evening, then relaxed a bit more before returning to the venue. Once Matt's race started the family and I headed out onto the trail to get some photos. As we waited in the last rock section the weather began to turn bad with sounds of thunder and sprinkles of rain. Julie agreed that I head back and get my pre-ride in before the weather changed for the worst. So, I left her with the camera and the 2 boys and sprinted back to the truck to get changed. As I was finishing-up a friend, Gordon, met up with me and we rode the lap together on our SS's. We got on course just as the 50+ men began their 2nd lap and we were able to cheer-on another friend, Jim Frith, shootin' for the win! Just about 1 mile in the clouds opened-up and the lightening started crashing down all around us! However, it felt great and it was past us within 5mins leaving us in some sun and baking heat and humidity once again. Then in the final sections of switchback downhills it happened...I placed a foot down in a sharp 180 switch scoping out the decent carefully, so I thought, and pulled my bike along behind me with my outside/right foot still in the pedal and I felt a bump...D@MN!T!! As I looked back I noticed a small chip in my seat stay where the frame lightly touched the outcropping of rock in the inside of the turn. It appeared to just be cosmetic, but once I finished the lap, after another couple miles of rocky descents, I re-inspected the area and saw it turned into a crack 3/4 the way through the frame...AHHHHHHH!!!!!! After discussing it with the team owner, it was decided to tape it up with electrical tape. I would be racing it tomorrow back-up bike, no options. :(

Saturday morning had finally arrived. A good night sleep was had, albeit with nerves due to the bike issue, but I felt good. I was happy we had an 8:30AM start, as the heat is not my friend. At the staging area I learned that we would be the LAST group to go off behind the CAT1 riders. This would not be fun! However, I was lucky to get the 3rd place call-up due to my "USUCK" ranking being behind a couple of Pros who decided to race their SS's for fun. BANG, WE'RE OFF!!! I grabbed a Pro's wheel and sat in 2nd until we approached the last bit of gravel which turned upward to start the climbing single track, then I attacked taking the hole-shot! I was feelin' good, and even though I had my smallest cog on I was still geared slightly higher than the rest. I held the lead with no problems as we bombed through the 1st few sections of rocky downhills and short steep ups. Then the longer ups came and as we hit the 1st flat 2-track about 4 riders came by as I sat-in with my own pace...this was a long 3 lap race and I wanted to have enough to finish the climbs on that last lap. By the end of lap1 I was in the middle of CAT1 riders trying hard to pass, but they were just not allowing it. I had to take numerous "chances" making risky passes while I "thanked" them for holding me up...FYI, if a SS racer is catching you, you probably do not have a shot at winning your race! By the start of lap 2 the heat had quickly risen, and I was already soaked with sweat. To my surprise my friend, Jim, was on the opening set of climbs and would save my day! Both laps, 2 and 3, he dropped ice into the back of my jersey and my helmet. He could obviously see the strain on my body from the heat and humidity. At this point I was told by a random spectator that I was in 8th place, now I had to try to pick it up a bit as I could see 1 rider ahead and another closing in from behind. However, by the top of the climb I had to stop at a neutral water station to cool down my body. I allowed a couple riders to pass as I dumped about 6 cups of ice water on my head and body. I didn't want to have another trip to the ER for heat-stroke...NOT FUN! I then pushed-on as hard as I could, leap-frogging with about 3 geared riders I had caught. They would pass on the climbs, and I would fly by on the technical descents. I finally started to see 1 of the riders who had passed me during my water stop. Unfortunately due to lap traffic he was able to stay away. I crossed the line in 11th today. It was a great technical and demanding course and the bike performed AWESOME! Unfortunately my body just couldn't handle the heat...maybe next year! ;)

***Breaking News Follow-Up (no pun intended): Raleigh had a replacement frame to me within 5 days!!! ROCK-ON!!! (Again, no pun intended! LOL)*** Now to get ready for the US Cup East Finale!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let the "Payne" begin!! US Cup East #9

US Cup East #9 took us to Fort Payne, AL this past weekend. We've been hearing about this venue all year. This is a bonus round, which gives 15pts to all who cross the start line, which apparently is given to help entice racers to come to the venue. It's been said that many have been injured and many have damaged wheels and bikes on this course...Sounds like my kind of course!!!

As we approached town, within just a few miles of the venue, the roads suddenly began to pitch skyward. This had Matt and I wondering just how brutal this course was going to be. I was already wondering how low of a gear I should ride! When we finally pulled-in to get ready for a ride we were greeted by our team owner, Robert Marion. He told us the course was slightly shorter, but that they kept the "good" stuff in. We also chatted with our team mates Eric and Betthany O'Connell. They told me there was no climbing, that it was a mostly flat course...I knew better than to listen to them, especially after the Bedford race! LOL Finishing my pre-lap I was excited and ready to go! My gear selection was a no-brainer. The course had some demanding climbs, but there were plenty of sections to get speed and some awesome rock gardens for some extra "play" riding to keep you on your toes! Once everyone was done and things were tightened-up with the team trailers we all crammed into 2 vehicles to head out for some dinner. Just before leaving Robert had mentioned that he had a nick-name for me, "Capt America", which I told him, "Sorry, my pals in Canada gave it to me years ago!" LOL This is where it gets funny....Just as we got to the center of town we came to a stop at a light next to the town park. Someone mentioned people in the field doing push-ups. As I looked over there was a "larger" dude buckled-over shirtless, apparently recovering from his effort. I pointed him out as a candidate for Capt America to Robert while laughing. Robert immediately threw out a challenge for a free dinner. I had to run out onto the field next to them and knock-out 3 push-ups after taking my shirt off. I accepted and everyone immediately told Matt to pull over to let me out as they prepped their video camera! I jumped out of the truck and ran out onto the field, knocked-out 3 push-ups military style and yelling them out, then ran back. Just as I reached the road Robert yelled-out that I had to go back and give high-fives! So, I returned to the group and gave a high-five to the guy I called-out a few minutes earlier. As I ran back I could hear them all laughing and cheering me on. As I made it to the road I gave them a bicep flex-pose! LOL ...winner, winner, pasta dinner!!! And the dinner was a good one! Thanks again, Robert!

Race morning had me waking up staring at the wall next to the bed with the cockroach from Beatlejuice staring at me! Yup, we found the crappiest room in town at the Mountain View Inn of Fort Payne. DO NOT GO THERE, TRUST ME! LOL I could fill an entire paragraph with the room issues alone! LOL

Once at the race venue, DeSoto State Park, we were informed that it had rained pretty hard overnight. However, during my warm-up it appeared to not have much of an affect on the trail. It appeared to just make the already standing puddles a little bigger. As the riders' meeting began to start with the customary playing of our National Anthem I had to break my silence to yell at a pair of inconsiderate guys about 30M in front of me. They were chatting loud enough that I could hear them over the anthem. I yelled out at them to stand at attention and remove their lids. They did stop talking, but failed to remove their lid...WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE THESE DAYS?!?! And they were not the only ones! Numerous racers failed to show their respect to our flag and those who have sacrificed their lives to defend it and allow us our freedoms! Please do your part and instill the practice in others to show the proper respect if you see it not being given.

On the start line I met up with a few familiar faces, but I was surprised to see a small field given the bonus point to be had just for starting. The 15pts makes this a MUST if you plan to take a shot at the series title! Off the line I found my main competitor sprinting against me for the hole-shot. It was clear that he had a good gear, maybe even the same as mine chosen for the day. However, this did not stop me. After about 20M I overtook the field and led the SS group into the woods. The first section was mostly downhill with a few techy rock sections. As we rode-on I quickly became confident in my pre-race thinking...this was my race to lose! Each technical section I creeped away from the group, then on the 1st pitch up of greasy
/rooty climb I was passing the Pro Women racers. Just as I reached the 1st woman she began to stumble and came to a stop and I quickly jumped around without hesitation. Seconds later I heard some yelling as the riders behind me got bottled-up due to her stumble on the trail. I immediately continued my attack and quickly passed a couple more Pro Women placing a good buffer back to the remaining SS field. Hitting the first rock section after a road crossing, clearing a rock drop, and entering the 1st major climb, I found myself with a good gap of at least 15secs as I looked down to the left as I turned up a steep switchback. I continued to make clean quick passes on all the Pro Women and finally made my way through the GrandMaster50+ Men. I sat in for a bit and recovered while the 2nd place rider bridged-up. As we passed near the start area at the edge of the woods I heard a few cheering for him. We were now 2/3rds done with lap#1. As we entered a series of rock sections I was disappointed to not make the final pass of the Pro Women leader. It wasn't until after the 1st downhill switchback that I was able to get by and get my flow up to top speed through the remaining rock sections. By the time I reached the last technical switchback rock climb I again had about a 15sec gap pulling away while passing more CAT1 Men racers while doing so. As I exited the climb and the woods I was on the pavement which was the fast descent to the start/finish area. As I approached I tossed my glasses into the trees behind our vehicle, and before I knew it I was hittin my brakes as I missed the turn into the grass due to my speed. I made a quick acceleration while looking back for the chaser, but he was not there. I lost a few seconds, but hammered on hard to get out of sight again.

Lap#2 was flawless with more clean passes with just 1 short delay. At the same steep switchback of lap#1 where I had a small 15sec gap it was nearing 30secs as I was almost cresting the climb this time when I finally caught a glimpse of the chase! I attacked again and didn't look back, until the top of the final switchback climb where the chase was just starting the climb as I was exiting. This gave me a huge lead of at least 2mins!!! Lap 3 was more of the same until the 2/3rd mark near the start area. There was a large mud pit in a left turn which was very fast. Well, at this point I was being cautious and conserving some energy/power for the last big climb just in-case it would be needed. This caused my speed to be lower and made me drift inside only by about 6 inches from where I was hitting the mud on the previous 2 laps. All of a sudden I was watching my front wheel disappear into the unknown depths of a huge pit. The slow motion button was activated and I saw my wheel turn left as I went Superman over the bars hands first into the pit! Now I've done-it, I thought...It's been proven time and again that when I slow down stupid things happen. Now the chase would definitely be coming! As I grabbed my bike I quickly took a few pedals, thankfully while checking over the bike. After about 10M my chain dropped off the rear cog. Initially I put it back on and spun the cranks thinking it was just mud/sticks that caused the mishap, but once again it dropped for a 2nd time. This time I spun the cranks a few times and noticed I slightly bent my hanger which my chain tensioner is mounted to. I quickly gave a couple of easy pulls on it until it appeared to be straight again, and I was off. This time it held and I was quickly up and sprinting to make up lost time of at least 1-1/2mins!! I then paused my effort to free my hands in a straight section and removed my mud soaked gloves tossing them trail-side for recovery later...I had a race to win! As I hammered-on I entered the series of rock sections. About halfway through, there he was, the chaser! He had made up time due to my error and was within a minute. Now it was a race to the final climb, as I was certain that if I exited the climb to the road first I would secure the win! There it was, I was cresting the climb and with relief I looked down to the right to see the chase a couple switches was then a smooth coast down the paved hill to the finish line for Win#5!

Now it's time to focus on the US Natl's in PA. We'll be driving up Thursday and the race is Saturday morning. I'm hoping to have a good performance. The course is technical, which is my favorite, but there are a few Pro Men now signed-up. Hopefully my skills and power will outperform their fitness!? We'll see!!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Quest for the cup continues, US Cup East #8!

US Cup East #8 took us to Woolwine, VA. This is an awesome course which makes me homesick, as it is similar to trails back in MI. It has some great technical singletrack and some demanding climbs with sections of speed to top it off.

This course is almost a "home course" for me as it is just a 1hr drive to the venue. I know the trails pretty well, mainly due to a 6hr race last fall. However, most of the course for this race would be in the opposite direction. So, to further prepare I took a couple of drives up for some pre-riding of the course ahead of time and managed to get in a solid 5 laps with the last being Saturday afternoon just before Sunday's race. The course was in good condition and had dried-out some since the previous trip 6 days earlier, but it still had slick portions which were mostly in corners and on the climbs. Saturday night brought more rain, but the course builder/team member/race organizer, Eric O'Connell, rode it early Sunday morning and assured us it did not get any worse.

The race had a somewhat low attendance, which was a shame due to being such a great course. I would say my favorite to this point in the US Cup East series! At the start line I noticed a few missing faces, but also a few new to the series who I recently raced in the Bedford, VA race. The start went as planned and the hole-shot was a breeze. Riding the 34/18 due to the slick trails had me curious what the others would be running. Well, my huge lead dwindled as I struggled to control the power to the rear wheel as it kept wanting to break loose and spin as we climbed up the first 2 miles of the course. Just as I was about the crest the final climb I spun almost coming to a stop as I was almost doing a track-stand as a result. This cause the rider who had bridged-up to rub my back wheel, and while doing so yelled my name out loud! I chuckled inside, mostly because knowing him from the previous race there was no way he would be able to hang once I cleared the climb. With that I hammered across the false-flat through a section of singletrack to start a switchback descent. Within seconds I opened a gap, and by the time I came around the 1st half of the course to the flyover bridge we went under entering the trail at the start of the lap I was out of sight of the competition. From that point on it was just mind over matter when it came to slick climbs, and skills when bombing the descents and rocks. The hardest part was the heat and humidity topped-off with no air movement in the trails. The jersey came unzipped after the first climb, and before going over the flyover bridge I had tossed my sweat splattered glasses to Julie. Finishing the race I had just over a 5min gap claiming my 4th win of the series. Next up, race#9 in Fort Payne, AL...I've been waiting for this one since race#1 when I was told about how rocky-technical it was....see ya there!!

Training "fun" race: Fat Tire Frenzy - VORS XC race in Bedford, VA

Training can be FUN! Finally getting my Blogger updated after a couple of events...sorry for the delay!

Back on June 16th I chose to join a friend, Gabor, for a trip up to Bedford, VA for a VORS race called the Fat Tire Frenzy. I heard it was a fun trail and would be great for training, and a bonus of cash pay-out to the SS class. That's all it took to convince me to attend, as I knew that barring any mechanicals I would most-likely be in the running to get my entry/travel fees back with a good finish.

Gabor picked me up in the early morning and we hit the road without delay...Then it hit me, I left my large cup of my routine oatmeal pre-race meal sitting on my wife's vehicle in the garage!! We were already 20mins away, so I called and asked her to place it in the fridge for later. We then came upon a McD's where I purchased 2 of their oatmeal cups. We then continued on and had an uneventful drive until we had difficulty finding the event venue due to the GPS directions. It placed us at a recycling collection site where we drove past the collection area up a 2-track to the top of a hill in a field that was empty except for 1 truck and a tractor on a flatbed. LOL We then found a gentleman who was able to get us headed in the right direction.

Finally on-site we went directly to registration. Our entry fee was just $25, and this is where the Maxxis Southern Classics promoters need to take note! The entry fee included a nice laminated number plate, post race food/drinks, raffle ticket, and a athletic event labeled t-shirt!! The 2 of us laughed about this on our way back to the vehicle to continue prepping for the race start which was just 30mins away. This is when I discovered I forgot my riding gloves and my GU gels! I laughed with Gabor stating that it was not a big deal since I race SS, but also that I was just a complete mess due to having a race on a Saturday morning instead of the normal Sunday morning routine. At this point I was just hoping to have a good race and some fun.

At the start it another surprise was thrown at me...It would be a mass start for all CAT1/Pro/SS classes male/female. This was actually AWESOME!!! I was now excited! I've always been able to take the hole-shot at the starts regardless of competition; however, this start did have a nasty long section of grass field to the entrance of the single track. I quickly grabbed the spot I had eyed for the start on the line and was lined-up to my team mate Eric O'Connell. This would be a great start, I thought to myself, with a team mate at my side! As the race started I sprinted to be 1st to the 1st left 180deg corner. I then sprinted out of that corner to get to a high cadence...I had a slight gap, but the field was beginning to close-in. As the course bent left for a long sweeping turn it dropped then started a climb. It wasn't until the crest of that climb that we finally left the grass field and popped-up onto a paved cart path which was about 50yds in length. Just before reaching this pavement a geared rider attacked and I was unable to hold him off. As we hit the pavement he clicked through his gears and opened a slight gap. Luckilly I was able to hang and hold-off the remaining racers breathing on my back wheel. As we snaked through a few technical areas I left a slight gap so as to not have the geared rider in-front of me mess-up my flow. Eventually a couple of riders came by, to include Eric. Jumping on his wheel I hung on to my position, now in 4th. Then as we entered a series of switchbacks a young rider began stating he wanted to pass. I told him to find a place and call it, that I would not slow or move off trail for him. Soon after he decided to make his move, but it was an illegal one, as he cut accross a switchback to jump up 2 positions in the tight single track! We quickly started calling him out for his move worthy of a DQ. Then he and the couple ahead of Eric and I got out of sight.

Looking back we now had a good gap, and as we entered a long flat of open 2-track Eric called me to the front for a pull. As we re-entered the single track it was an immediate steep short switchback climb which was slightly technical. As I crested the climb I now had a gap on Eric. I continued to push on as the course now was very undulating requiring me to keep the power and flow going. Suddenly a large jolt and crack rang out as I smashed my pedal on a rock. I shook it off, but shortly after that I had at some point unclipped my right foot in a section and upon re-engaging my pedal did not realize I had broken it. On an ensuing steep power climb my foot pulled straight out of the pedal which had me driving my right knee into my stem! I quickly stopped and looked at my shoe not knowing what had caused the shoe to disengage. Then coming through that same section on Lap#2 it happened again! This time I noticed what had happened and made sure to rotate the pedal to get a good side.

Half way through lap#3, the final 8+mi lap, I was in the midst of passing numerous lap riders when I caught the young Cannondale rider who cut the course on lap#1. I heckled him for at least a mile until I finally found a passing opportunity and dropped him as I heckled him more! LOL I finished the race and found that I was 7mins ahead of 2nd place in my class and 3rd overall on the day for Expert/Pro! Wow, I was spent! Then during the closing awards I earned $80 for 1st in SS and to top it off my ticket# was drawn and I won another $60+ floor pump! Great day of training if I may say so! :)

Huge kudos to the race promoter for the VORS and the park for a great event! I'll be likely to go back again in the future!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Liquid O2!!!

Maxxis Southern Classics XC #8 of 14 - Hobby Park, Winston-Salem, NC (6/9/13)

Saturday evening I decided to take the plunge and join in on this race for some training. I decided to race the SS in the CAT1 30-39 group. It was a last minute decision due to the high entry fee. They were charging $40 (+the on-line convenience fee of about $3) for pre-registration, or you would pay $50 day of!! US Cup races allow mail-in and are only $30 for CAT1!! Anyhow, since it was local and I would be missing a few races later this month, I figured I needed to use it for training.

Arriving at 10:30AM, I got my registration finalized for my 12PM start. I was already sweating in the humid sun blistering mid-day! I jumped on the bike and rode around while periodically stopping to talk with my friends/competitors for the day. Riding around I didn't feel too good, as it felt like my body/legs were sleeping. A friend, Gabor, actually called me out for yawning as we were just minutes from our start! LOL

At the line the promoter announced a prize for the "King of the Hill". This would be for making it to the crest of the paved soap box derby hill first, which would also mean the hole-shot into the single track. I was just focused on having a good solid ride in our field of 11 riders, me being the only rider on a single speed! At the yell of "go", the field tore-off the start line down the paved model airplane runway used for the start/finish. I found myself mid-pack as we made the sharp left-turn of about 130degrees to start the derby climb. I was sitting comfortably in the pack taking the draft trying not to get boxed-in. As soon as the pavement pitched upward I started my cadence to hold pace up the climb. Almost instantly I heard the clamour of all the riders clicking through their gears to shift down for a spin up the hill. It was almost like they hit their brakes as I shot out of the pack to the left immediately gapping the field. Through my years of experience I have learned to never look back until the objective has been reached....well, I almost made it, as the spectators cheering me on gave it away with about 20yds to go. As I looked back over my shoulder I had about a 40yd gap to the 5-abreast field!! I gave out a yell for fun, "I just got a mug!" LOL

Entering the singletrack I coasted a bit and spun the legs out from the previous effort. I figured I would let them pull me back and then pick it up again to hold the front position. After a few hundred yards I still had about a 10sec gap, so I just went with it. Finally the legs and lungs were feelin good again and I started to rail the singletrack and began having some real fun. It wasn't until about the 3/4lap mark that a rider came by, then a second. I tried to hang best I could, but now the legs were feeling like lead! I finally entered the last section of singletrack, after exiting the woods to a clearing then re-entering again, when I found myself back on their wheels! I yelled-out in fun "Hey guys, you're no longer allowed to shift!" as I saw them both in a small gear spinning up the small climb. LOL They just laughed back! We were now havin some fun. As we made a decent and began the last climb to the final downhill tight singletrack chute through the trees I finally got around the 2nd rider as he clambered up a rooty section. Unfortunately rider 1 just made the chute as I got to his wheel. But then the trail opened, as he missed the right-hand line which gave a direct shot out of the trees to the field with 2 big drops. As soon as I saw him sway to the left I mashed the pedals and sprinted through the right-hand line jumpin off the drops at full speed! Again I gapped the riders and lead into lap 2 with another big gap, and again up the dreaded derby hill climb.

Again as I crested the climb the spectators were cheering me on, to include my normal SS competitors who had already finished their race! One even told me I had a big gap, and it appeared so, so again I backed-off as I entered the singletrack. However, this time I was very taxed as it didn't take long at all for rider1 to catch-up and soon he was telling me to up the pace. I just ignored him and focused on getting my rig back up to speed while I tried to continue my recovery. Eventually I gave in and told him to just call his pass. Then he finally called it out and I squeezed left to give him a fair shot at a pass. Briefly I was able to hang on his wheel, but only for about a mile. I then yelled up to him, "Have a great race, finish strong!" Not long after I had rider2 and a 3rd pulling me in. Once we hit the big climb in the woods adjacent to the derby hill I was no longer able to hold the pace. The 2 of them then overtook me just prior to the crest of the climb. Things were now getting H O T!!! I had unzipped my jersey in attempt to get air to the chest and into my lungs. I then realized I lost my bottle!!! After another descent I suddenly saw a guy tryin to hand me a bottle, my bottle!! LOL What a great guy! I was by him too fast to take it and yelled that I'd get it on the back-side (just up the trail it performed a switchback); however, he misunderstood me and I later found him on the opposite side of the park where we dipped out of the woods briefly before the last singletrack section. I yelled, "Thanks, man! You're awesome!" as I grabbed my bottle and drank! Never noticed who it was but, THANKS AGAIN!!! :)

For the next couple of miles I was playing slinky as I kept reeling them in on the technical sections. Then surprisingly I found myself pulling them back on a climb! I was then on their wheels. Rider3 was starting to get on my nerves with his lack of technical skills, as I thought 3x's he was going to take us both out. He was hitting roots, rocks, and unclipping in the corners moto-style! I had to force myself to stick to his wheel throwing caution to the wind so as to not let them gap me. Finally, as we approached a lap rider, I found an opportunity to pass them both! Quickly by, I soon was able to yell up to the lap rider that I was fast approaching. It was perfect! We were just into a technical descent on a ridgeline as I approached the female rider. She called-out for me to pass left before I could, then all of a sudden yelled, "Wait, a rock!" LOL Too late I was already by her clearing the rock as if it weren't even there! I yelled back, "No worries! It's all good, thanks!" This was the break I needed. I immediately opened up a huge gap as I assume the others got held up by not passing as I had. However, it wasn't long after that rider2 came back strong. Again I watched as he crept away and my legs yelled at me to hold back or they would implode!

Lap3 found me goin up that darn hill again doing all I could to turn-over my cranks! I just had to hold-off rider3 to keep the 3rd spot on the podium! Once to the top I forced myself to hammer-on, and surprisingly I wasn't feeling too awful-bad! Now I started to believe I could do it. Then I noticed again I had lost my bottle!!! I had nothing!!! The only thing in my favor was the liquid air as it kept my throat and mouth from dryin out, but not wet enough to chance takin a shot of GU!! Looking back and listening for approaching riders I kept finding no-one except for the lap riders I was passing. The lap was going smooth until that last outing into the field before the end...all of a sudden I had a rider pulling me in!!! I hammered up the slight climb to hold him off as I would not allow a pass!!! I made it!!! As soon as I got into the single track I knew I had him, as I would now use my size and power to keep the trail to myself not allowing a pass. As I approached any areas with possible passing I upped the pace and then sat back in to blaze through the tech sections. Now I was at the final climb. As I crested the ascent he was on my wheel!!! Once I made the chute entrance I yelled back askin what group he was in and he replied........don't worry, I'm Pro. LOL I just blew my wad holding him off!!! He was just now catching back up after being trail-side to fix a flat when I passed him earlier!! Regardless I held my pace, just in-case, down the chute makin a huge gap to cruise across the finish line... D O N E!!! Podium on the SS with the King of the Hill title and some CA$H!!! Now I'm thinking I should do this all the time, as they never pay-out to the "OPEN-SS" class!! USAC only recognizes it as a CAT2 equivalent, even though it is open for Pro riders down, and seldom do you see beginner racers on single speeds. Maybe it will change sometime in the future...?

Following my podium I left some GU Chomps for the promoter to give to each of the Beginner wave winners, as they were going off at 2:30PM. The only other complaint I had on the day was the horrible lag of time for them to get our awards done...We started at 12, finished before 1:45PM, and then had to wait until 3:30PM!!! You'd think after 20yrs of hosting this event they'd have it figured out!?!?

Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed the PAIN of winning!! LOL Thanks for reading!!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Makin' a run for the Cup! Update for US Cup East #4 & US Cup East #6!

Well, it appears that I'm well over-due for posting an update, eh! LOL Things have been crazy busy with work and life leaving little time for racing or trying to post to my Blog! Anyhow...

I left off with the US Cup East #4 which took my team mates and I to Ducktown, TN. following the Hobby Park Wednesday night training series race. I was feeeling great following the race, but not looking forward to yet another muddy venue. We rolled-in to Ducktown in the early afternoon with plenty of time for the planned pre-ride. It was tough to get motivated due to the non-stop rain, and I was not looking forward to the ensuing clean-up from the pre-ride. However, running singel speed it is a requirement when you have never ridden the trail as you would have no idea of what kind of gear is possible. Once on the bike I was ready to go to get it done. It was chilly at first, being that it was only in the 50's, but the start climb had things warming up quick. The trail was in great condition, and surprisingly it had very little mud...needless to say this set me up for a rude awakening race day! Finally finishing the pre-ride I was confident that the 2:1 gear ratio was acceptable, and off to dinner we went.

Race morning we were up and out to the course ready to go with about 1hr to warm-up. Upon arriving at the venue at 8:30AM we quickly noticed that the river had risen numerous feet! We were seeing the bottom with all the rocks less than 12hrs earlier, and now it appeared to be Class-5 rapids! Then just about 1/2hr prior to the start they announced a delay of at least 1hr and that the race was changing. The park directors made everyone move to the opposite side of the river due to the water level, and part of the original course was under water! The course/race was now to be a XC-TT!! 1 lap for all classes, roughly 11 miles long! The start was crazy, with a patch of asphalt for about 10 yards, leading to a drop-off of a few inches, only wide enough for 2 bikes, and into a single track ridge climb for a couple of miles! At the start 1 rider spoke-up and stated he would be letting the other 3 of us go (smallest turn-out yet due to weather). So that left 3 of us jockeying for position. As we took off the rider next to me gave me a squeeze so I backed-off knowing I had a bigger gear for the duration of the race. Then I noticed the 2nd rider, on the far right, having trouble clipping-in to his pedals. I attacked and passed him on the edge of the ridge quickly bridging-up to the leader who pushed me over off the line. After just about 400yds into the climb the leader suddenly sat down on his saddle dropping his cadence. It seemed like we were climbing up a river with all the water coming down the trail. The one good thing about this was that the water washed-away any mud that might clog-up the working of the bike, but it created extra effort and kept the feet and legs cold never allowing them to warm-up. I quickly called-out my pass and increased my cadence to blow by him in a split second! After a few bends of the climb we came to a short false-flat where the trails ascent decreased for about 40yds allowing for a short breather, and for me a pedal strokes in the saddle to get a drink and look back at the competition. I found I had a good gap and quickly stood back on the pedals and increased my cadence again. By the time I crested the first major series of climbs I was out of sight and passing those classes which started minutes before us. It wasn't until the last series of steep climbs that the previous leader finally pulled me back. Just after I let him pass me, to sit on his wheel, we came to a tight/steep switchback. I was dismounted for the entry as he started the climb. 2 steps into the climb he lost traction and momentum and came across the trail in front of me almost crashing. He then dismounted and walked following me up the climb. Once we made it to the final steep/slight right bend to the top I re-mounted and hammered it out cresting the top. We were now on the final crazy decent which would include a mix of gravel road jeep trail and slick single track! We passed a couple of riders, then my glasses began to fog-up. As I pulled them off to place them in my back jersey pocket he attacked and passed me. It was short-lived, as he went into a corner too hot and just as he began to slide-out his tires grabbed! This was pure luck, as instead of sliding off the edge of the mountian down into trees it shot him up hill into the enbankment full of trees. I heard a crack and immediately slowed-up to yell back to see if he was OK. As I watched I saw him pull his bike back out of the trees, so I continued on knowing he was OK. He soon puled back up to my wheel and I kept him there through the nasty single track where we both nearly slid-off more than a few times. (Crazy thinking a couple of single speeds racing downhill!!! LOL) Once at the bottom it was a mile to the finish on asphalt along the road. I encouraged him to take the lead and joked with him that we both knew I had the bigger gear, which he laughed back in acknowledgement. Then with about 50yds to go I gave a sprint and took the WIN!

US Cup East #6 took my family and I to Jackson, GA for the holiday weekend! This would be #4 of 7 required races for the overall series title that I would be competing in for 2013. We arrived early afternoon once again for my pre-ride of the course. Shortly before I was ready Matt finished-up his pre-ride and came over to tell me to put on a bigger gear! So, after chatting with Matt, Robert, and Chase, I chose to do it and swapped-out my 17T rear cog for a 16T cog. This put my gear ratio at 2.13:1. This would be the biggest gear raced yet on a 29er for me! The pre-ride went great, even though everyone was complaining about the bumpy course ridden with roots and rocks. It was a lot like the Greensboro trails and seemed normal to me. However, once back I returned the 17T cog to the bike. My decision was made due to a few short steep rocky/rooty climbs where I knew I would be trying to pass riders I always catch on lap #1. I figured the lower gear would allow for any slow climbs and fast acceleration for passes, and I also figured that no one would be running bigger than 2:1 gearing.

Race morning started with kids races! As I prepped for my race Thane took off in the 7-8yo class at 8:30AM. He went into the woods in 3rd place for 2 laps of what was the final short loop of our race course. It had a few sharp corners and a couple of short climbs with 1 being a little steep. Coming out of the woods to start lap 2 he was in the lead! He had a good gap as we cheered him on. Apparently the leader stepped-off his bike on the steepest climb and Thane blew by him. He held it to the finish and took the win, his 1st US Cup race and his 1st win! Then it was Nic's turn in the 3-5yo class. He was super excited, but as usual he got timid and let others go in front of him into the trail. He eventually passed a few and on the final decent 2nd place crashed and he was able to squeeze by. Finishing strong with 1 other closing the gap quick he managed to take 2nd! Now it was my turn...

At the line it was choas as usual with all the Sport class riders squeezing in front. I eventually yelled out to them to hold-up as we took our place in front of them behind the Pro/CAT1 women's field. I was fealing pretty confident with my gearing, but the guy next to me pointed to a young guy on the far left stating that he ran away with the race the week before. As we took off I quickly saw that rider attack the inside for the lead, but I held back as we started on asphalt which dropped onto gravel, then back to asphalt with the start of climb #1 which was a couple hundred yards before cresting and dropping into the single track.

As I continued to increase pace I began to pull away from the field into the lead. Once I hit the asphalt climb I stood on the pedals and attacked! As I crested the climb I released my lock-out on the fork and peeked back to see a nice gap to the field with 3 of the remaining 8 giving chase. Knowing there was limited passing in the tight trail I held an easy pace. I figured that if they pulled up to my wheel I would attack again, as by then the legs would be warmed-up and ready to go after recovering from effort #1. Then on a short rooty/rocky up in the trail I felt something in my left hand pop and a short quick pain shot through my thumb/wrist/forearm and then it disappeared. I quickly looked back wondering if this would mean trouble. The chase wasn't, I attacked on the 1st technical decent. Quickly I was out of sight. I continued to hammer while lookin back in areas of trail where it doubled back, but I never saw the chase. Just before completing Lap #1 I came up behind riders on a minibike. It was Dave giving Robert a ride out!! As I passed I noticed it was him and called out asking if he was ok. In classic Robert I heard, "Yeah, Yeah!" LOL  Then I continued to hammer on hoping he wasn't banged-up too bad. Lap #2 was more of the same, and the body felt even better. However, I forced myself to hold-back so as to not make any stupid mistakes. Yet, I still pulled-in numerous riders from the CAT1 classes that had started before us crusing by them in the tight technical sections. Finishing the race I felt great, good enough to take another lap even! But then it was time to start packing up for the return trip to my parents' as my wife was getting the kids ready.

Taking the podium Dave was kind enough to allow me to have the mic. I stood on the top as everyone hushed to hear my words. "Thank you, Dave, everyone! Today in honor of Memorial Day I chose to not wear my team jersey in memory of my friend SCSWO John "Dusty" Marcum, KIA 9/11/08, and all others. Who was the leader of the team DEVGRU which his remaining team mates ultimately killed BinLaden! Thank you!" The crowd then broke into cheers and claps! It was a great response. Only bummer was I missed spraying the champagne! LOL But I already took enough time from Dave's agenda and thanked him again! :)

A couple of hours later, while driving home, the left hand started to ache. Before long it was getting unbearable! We made a stop for gas and some food and Iran into McD's to get a bag of ice. It didn't help, but also it never swelled-up which was odd. However, while getting gas we had a laugh as a moron woman next to us drove off from the pump in her Mercedes ripping the hose off as she left it in her tank!! Her 2 daughters quickly popped up with their cell phones to video it as their mom made the stupid comment of how she didn't break it, that they were made for people who do this! LOL

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Race prep for this week.

Wednesday this week brought the Triad Mountain Bike Race Series to Hobby Park in Winston-Salem. Being so close to work it was hard to not go to this one! Arriving at the venue about 1/2hr prior to the 6:15PM start I got registered and tried to get loosened-up while also trying to get in some hydration and nutrition, as I was pretty hungry from the stressful day at work.

Bantering with a few racing friends, I tried to coerce them all into racing in the CAT1-Open class with me (I was still on the single speed of course, as it is my only bike); however, I was unsuccessful. On the start line there were 10 of us in the class, which is pretty good for a training series race, and as expected I was the only one riding a single speed. Running a 2:1 gear ratio (34/17) I found myself behind a few riders off the start line as they clunked through their gears. Then we finally made the sharp left-turn to start the climb up the dreaded soap box derby hill. I found myself in 4th position as I tried to get into the front riders' draft as they continued to clunk through their gears as we approached the pitch up the hill. Then, as I was hoping, they all started clicking away again shifting back down to smaller gears for the steep paved climb. I quickly looked over my left shoulder and swung out to hold my spin. just as they all set into a rhythm spinning up the climb my spin took me blowing by them at pace. Just after cresting the climb I took another look back to see a good 40yd gap to the leaders of the chase! I had once again succeeded at taking the lead into the single track.

This small gap remained the same with little change +/- for the entire 1st lap of 3. Each technical climb they were able to gain a few yards, but each flat/technical descent I was able to gain a few yards or more. Lap 2 was more of the same, but with just about a mile to go Gabor appeared on my wheel out of nowhere!! I gave a yell back asking where he came from, then told him to not tell anyone I was getting tired! LOL His response was that he was no longer racing due to a flat, and now he was just going to try to hang on my wheel. With that it became a more relaxed/fun time as we chatted and continued to shred the trail. Then he was gone just as quickly as he had arrived! (He unfortunately suffered a 2nd flat in the same trail location as the 1st.) Now I started to catch lap traffic on my 3rd and final lap. I also started to feel some cramping in my right calf. I quickly swallowed a GU and took a drink to wash it down with hopes of holding it off until the finish. It seemed to work! As I approached the final clearing to re-enter the final section of single track I couldn't see anyone in sight. After passing a couple more lap riders I was bombing the final descent to roll across the finish line with a minute or more gap back to 2nd place. Wow, was I toast! The legs were spent, but it felt great!

Now I'm preparing to head to Ducktown , TN in the morning for US Cusp East Race#4! I'll be carpooling with my teammates, Matt and Tyler, again with a trip start time of 9AM from Greensboro. We've got a hotel room and plan for some good rest after a pre-ride to check out the course. Really hopin it isn't another mudfest like Columbia last Sunday as it is no fun re-building a bike after a mess like that. Especially if it means replacing damaged components!

Friday, May 03, 2013

South Carolina 3-peat success!!!

Last weekend took us to Columbia, SC for the Race to the River. This was race #3 of 3 for the SC State Championship. The boys and I drove down Saturday afternoon following their soccer games. We arrived at Harbison State Forest around 4PM. My parents met us, as did my teammate Matt Jones. My parents took the boys so I could pre-ride the course before finishing the drive to their place which is about 20mins from the venue.

During the ride I started having chain jumping issues. This was the beginning of what would be a very stressful night. Once we arrived at my parents' place we had dinner and then I went straight to the garage to work on the bike. It also started to rain. After about 2 hours it seemed that I had finally fixed the issue, and the rain continued to fall. Morning came and it was still raining. I reviewed the radar and forecast for the day and it was showing a clearing and rain stopping just prior to our scheduled race start time.

Arriving at the venue it was still raining, although it was a light rain. I got registered and started to get organized for the race and my warm-up. As they started the CAT3 racers the rain finally stopped and as predicted the sky started to clear. I started thinking that this would definitely be a good day for racing. As I warmed-up the bike was also still functioning great without any issues.

At the start line I took my place in the front and tried to get the promoter to change the race by having us do 2 full laps (for SS they run the same as sport which at this venue is 1 full and 1 half lap). They refused to change it, and announced the start. Off we went! Initially I had some difficulty getting clipped into my pedals (rarely happens) as we flew down the gravel road to a 90deg right-turn continuing down the road and up a slight climb. rounding the corner I finally clipped-in and gave a short sprint. Looking back I had opened up a gap. I quickly sat down on the saddle and held my pace knowing I could easily take the lead into the single track. Then the problems commenced!!! WTH!!! The chain started to skip on the cog again as I road through the soggy pine needle trail. Any effort at all created a skip of the chain on the cog. Frustrated I looked back to see 2 riders closing the gap quickly. Somehow I managed to hold them off until the single track, but then I immediately had 1 of them within a few feet of my rear wheel. I was able to hold him off by opening a gap in each technical section. Noticing this after the 2nd slightly technical sections I started to attack each one harder. By the time we reached the big switchback climb leading up to the famous Spider Woman Loop the chain finally seemed to settle back in and quit jumping. Now my confidence was growing and I began racing full-out again! Not holding back, I almost lost the trail 2x's as I gave out a yell of excitement. The mud was slick as ice in areas, and in others it was slightly tacky or soupy throwing mud everywhere. Not having glasses on I found myself wiping mud from my eyes numerous times. I also made the mistake of leaving the ends of my GU packs hanging out of my short legs which kept me from using them. Luckily I did not feel the need to use any, as my gap had grown beyond line of sight as I continued to pass slower traffic from the start waves before us. Crossing the line I gave a sigh of relief...I had held-off the competition with a huge time gap to retain the SC Single Speed Title for the 3rd year in a row!