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!