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!