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

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