I didn’t think I would survive the Jerdon Mountain Challenge. That might sound kinda stupid, but for some reason I was really nervous. I haven’t been nervous before a race in a long, long time, but right after I registered at the 11th hour I started to have second thoughts. Although I had just ridden the course a month ago, Saturday would be the first time I would attempt it on a single speed. There was no way I would chicken out (or waste the money I spent on registration), but all day at work on Friday I started thinking the worst.
Like I would die out there.
I know I was overreacting, but something just didn’t feel right. I got home Friday night, made sure my bike was ready, and got some rest to prepare myself for a long day. Lunchbox and I hit the road at the crack of dark, and during the two hour drive to Old Fort I calmed down a little. Just before the race started I got my game face on.
Photo cred: Little Miss Sunshine
After the pre-race announcements, we rolled out through town.
Photo cred: Lunchbox
I started out kinda up front, but that changed quickly. Running a 32x21 had me spinning like crazy, and I couldn’t keep up with the geared people. I resisted the urge to spin my ass off to keep up, and when we hit a couple of climbs on the road I passed a few people. During the flat sections I got passed again, but I realized that maybe I might have a chance to keep up with such an easy gear as the race went on (and as the climbing increased.) After a few miles the paved road ended, and we started climbing up
Mill Creek Rd.
Photo cred: Me. I brought my phone along just in case.
During the long climb up the road, I noticed that the geared riders were spinning with the lowest of gears. My gear ratio was perfect for that climb, and I started passing people left and right. Every time I went by someone I heard, “You’re crazy for riding a single speed.” I just smiled, said thanks, and kept on pushing. My legs felt pretty damn awesome, so when I finally reached the top I decided to blow by the first rest stop. Next up was Kitsuma, which after a series of switchback climbs turns into some of the raddest downhill out there.
I was ready, or so I thought.
On the first downhill I grabbed a little brake to scrub some speed and I noticed that I had nothing for a rear brake. Zero. Zilch. What was supposed to be a fun section turned into “Oh shit, I hope I don’t die.” I got my ass way off the back of my seat, and somehow managed to control my speed and not die (or worse) using only my front brake. I also noticed that my rear tire pressure was really low for some reason, but I had just enough air to make me pucker up a little around the corners. Towards the bottom of the trail I ran into a little traffic, and my first thought was to stop as soon as I could and shoot a little CO2 into my tire.
I guess I forgot, because as soon as I got out I gunned it. Back on
Mill Creek Road, I realized once again
the disadvantage of my gear choice.
Spinning at only eleven miles per hour, I took my hands off the bars,
grabbed my phone, and texted Lunchbox to let him know that I was approaching
the halfway point. As soon as I sent it,
I rolled up to the geyser and saw a crowd of people cheering and taking photos.
Photo cred: Danielle S.
Lunchbox had hitched a ride there, while Little Miss Sunshine waited for her friend to roll through so they could ride Star Gap together. I probably should’ve stopped to borrow an air pump (which I found out later they did indeed have), but I was making good time and didn’t want to ruin it. Instead of turning up
Creek Road to climb again, we went straight
through to aid station number two.
I had to stop this time, since both of my bottles were empty. It was a quick stop though, since one of the very helpful volunteers filled them both for me. Thirty seconds later I was back on the bike, headed for Star Gap.
The easy part was over.
And so is today’s post.