I’ve done a few endurance races over the years, so I guess I’m not a newbie. However, when it comes to riding a single speed in an endurance race, I still have a lot to learn. Rather than take the time to learn how to do it properly, my dumb ass just jumped right in.
I do that quite a bit though.
Saturday’s Tree Shaker was a chance for me to ride one gear for eight hours, and do as many laps as I could possibly stand. Having no idea if I could even make it the whole eight hours kept it interesting. By the time I checked in I found out that there were twelve people in my class, which meant that I was actually “racing” against other people. And most likely, those people have done endurance races on single speed bicycles before.
I wasn’t nervous at all…seriously.
I still didn’t give a shit about how well I would do. I was only concerned with trying to push myself out there for eight hours, and see how much pain and suffering I could stand. From that moment on, I only cared about myself, because no one else was gonna pull my ass around the trail. I think the only thing that helped me stay calm was the fact that I didn’t really care about anything else.
And just like that we were off…
Photo credit: Lunchbox
I kinda stayed mid pack, trying my best not to go out too hard at first. Since I was riding on a 32X20, I couldn’t go that fast on the flat stuff anyway. Just like every other endurance race I’ve ever done though, I got caught in traffic once I got on the singletrack. Normally it doesn’t bother me too bad, but this time it did because of my lack of gears. Being on a single speed, you kinda need momentum to get up the climbs, and being behind a bunch of brake riding dirt roadies I wasn’t getting a chance to haul ass downhill. Not even a mile in and I was already frustrated.
At one point we came up to a long uphill section, and I decided that I’d had enough of riding behind technically challenged dirt roadies. I tried to pass a few people on a short climb, but a small stump jumped out and thwarted my effort. I busted my ass pretty good, and luckily I didn’t do any real damage. All it did was frustrate me even more.
I passed a few people here and there after getting back on my bike, and ended up back behind the same “I’m too scared to go fast on the downhills” people. Eventually I got around them, and that allowed me to set my own pace for the rest of the lap.
With all the traffic, I still turned a decent lap time. I passed the start/finish line and made my way back to my tent…
Normally I try to pace myself in these kinds of races. I had a different plan this time though, which involved me riding my ass off until I got tired. I stopped and swapped out my water bottles (it was well into the 90’s that day), and got my ass back out there for more fun in the sun. I pushed myself and pedaled while the pedaling was good, and I actually felt pretty good. No mishaps and my legs felt fine, but I did have one problem…
My back started getting tight. Shit.
I stood up on the downhill stuff to stretch it out, and realized that I couldn’t keep up my “usual” cross country pace on a single speed for eight hours. I decided that when I got back to the pit area that I would sit a spell and take it easy. I eventually crossed the start/finish line and made my way back to the tent.
As I was getting my bottles ready for the next lap, a familiar face rode up to shoot the shit. It was my fellow Bike29 teammate, Rich. Since I was taking an extended break between laps, we talked for a good while about all sorts of things. I don’t really remember though, because the riding I did for the rest of the day caused me to forget what we may or may not have talked about.
Was he even there? Maybe I hallucinated or something. Where was I? Oh yeah, two laps in well under two hours. Way too fast for an endurance race if I wanted to last.
I want this story to last too, so I’ll break it off here and continue tomorrow.
Come on, you know I can’t tell you everything on the first post.