Monday, May 23, 2011

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

That was my strategy, but it didn’t work. I guess I should start at the beginning, huh? I woke up early Sunday morning, and felt like shit. When I got Lunchbox out of bed, he was sick too. I ate a bowl of oatmeal to get some long-lasting energy, and I thought I was feeling better. As Lunchbox got ready, I loaded the bikes on the trucks. Then all of a sudden I felt nauseous. I threw up in the yard, emptying my stomach of the oatmeal I had just eaten. I know, I know. Gross, right? Anyway, my day was not starting off well.

We headed out to the U.S. National Whitewater Center, and I was wondering if leaving the house was such a good idea. If it was any other race (meaning not one close to my house), I would have stayed home. Since I needed the points for the overall standings in the Southern Classic Series, I decided to go. We got there and I prepared myself to race.

I knew I wasn’t 100 percent, but I was racing regardless of how I felt. After a warm up, I lined up with the rest of the racers for the start. A last minute change in the lineup had my group departing a little earlier than originally scheduled, and that put me at a disadvantage. When everyone lined up, I found myself towards the back of the pack. I didn’t mind though, because at least it would prevent me from going all out at the beginning for the lead and burning out shortly thereafter. When the race started, I was hidden in a mass of riders.

We rounded the first turn at the start/finish line, and I tried to work my way towards the front. It was pretty crowded though, so I didn’t get very far.

You can’t even see me yet. Damn.

We hit the trail, which starts out with a long downhill section that’s pretty fast. The problem was, everyone in front of me was riding their brakes. There must have been some dirt roadies in there or something. I was right on the wheel of the guy in front of me, hoping that these guys would speed up a little. I settled in, and kept up with the pack. I would make my move later when the time was right.

The first section was pretty uneventful, and we all pretty much stuck together. Up next was a long climb, and I hammered my way up it, passing one guy in my class. The trail quickly turned to downhill again and I turned it on. I tried to make up for lost time, and I was feeling a little better. After a few long climbs and fast downhills, I settled into a good pace. I ended up riding with one of the locals (we’ll call him Mr. Ryde), and we kept each other company for a while.

The first difficult section is called the Carpet Trail, which gets it’s name from a piece of carpet strewn across one of the climbs. I hammered my way up the last big climb on that trail, passing several guys in my class in the process (including Mr. Ryde.) I felt great, and hoped that I could use the downhill section after that to put a gap between me and the guys I just passed. My bike had other plans though.

As I hauled ass down the descent, I picked up a ton of speed. I didn’t see anyone behind me. That was a big boost in my confidence, until I got to the end of that section. I heard a grinding noise, and looked down to see that my chain had popped off. Shit. I had a helluva time getting it back on the front chainring, since my Third Eye Chain Watcher (which was supposed to prevent that shit in the first place) was in the way. I flipped my bike over, and I saw all of the guys I had just passed go right by me. I finally got the chain back on and hopped back on my bike to try to regain the precious minutes I had lost. I had to at least catch up with Mr. Ryde so I had someone to uh, ryde with.

I hauled ass, but I didn’t see anyone for a while. When we got to the next tough section (Goat Hill), I saw a few of those guys. I mashed my way up the tough climb, and passed most of the same guys again. I was hoping to leave Mr. Ryde well behind me this time. With the same plan as before, I gunned it all the way to the top, and when I hit the downhill section I shifted into a higher gear. Everything was going swimmingly until I got back to the bottom.

My damn chain popped off again, taking the wind outta my sails. With my sickness subsiding and my legs fully cooperating, I had to fight off mechanical issues with the 1X9 setup on The Big O. Putting it back on took a little less effort that before, but I had lost a lot of time. I gave it my best effort, but my confidence in my bike was all but lost. I felt like some more bad shit was about to happen. After finishing up the last few loops and having the last section of trail in my sight, I sped up and tried to finish strong.

The very last section is usually fun, but I was trying to catch people that were long gone. The only good thing about it was seeing Lunchbox hiding in the bushes with the camera.

Yeah, that’s me looking extra sexy in my Bike29 team kit.

When I popped out of the woods on the gravel road headed towards the start/finish line, I shifted into the highest gear I had and pushed it hard. I crossed the finish line at full speed and never passed another rider in my group. Damn it. Well, at least I finished, and it wasn’t DFL. I think I ended up in 10th place, which was good enough considering the circumstances. I will live to race another day. I’ll live to blog another day too, when I further analyze my pathetic performance tomorrow morning. See ya then.

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