Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hop Brook Dam(n)

At lunch on Friday I get a phone call from a local Pro with a question on tires. In the course of conversation he comments about me racing the Cat1 SS instead of my age group. I'm getting the distinct impression that he feels by not racing my age group, I'm not challenging myself (i.e. sandbagging). This starts getting at me and I decide I'll try and switch to my age group at registration.
Well when I get home I check the confirmed riders and none other than Kerry Robair has signed up for the Cat1 SS!
I gotta race Kerry!
So now my mind is at ease with my choice (it is Cat1, heck it's an open class too so any young buck with a Cat1 license and 1 gear can race it) and there is nothing left to do but go through my anal retentive race preparation.
Wake to a crisp clear morning; perfect race weather.
Get down to Middlebury and it's like a family reunion. It's so great to see all my racing friends! One of my favorite parts of racing is all the people I've met and become friends with, which is a big help getting through the pre-race jitters.
On the line we have 14 guys lined up. 14 guys racing singlespeed! One of the reasons I raced my age group last year was to race against a decent sized field; psyched I got it today in SS.
Kerry and I line up down the right hand side of the course next to David Wilcox of Geekhouse and Emrah Aghan from Marty's. It seems to be taking forever to get things started, but that gives me a chance to socialize and say hi to friends in the different race groups. I pull the old "can you hold my bike" on David Wilcox so I can run back and wish Brian Cantele good luck.
We finally get to the line, just wishing for Jill to blow the whistle, nerves ramping up, and...
we're off.
Holeshot baby!
Me and Emrah swap places back and forth on the grass going around the lake, but I get to the singletrack first, followed closely by Kerry and David. I bobble a technical spot and Emrah passes me, but as we pop out on the black top, I pass him back. The four of us are beginning to quickly establish a gap.
As we ride up the fireroad grinder after the levee, Kerry, David and I start putting a little real estate between us and Emrah.
I lead most of the first lap, but before we pull out for the last section of blacktop, David makes his move and passes me. He's making it stick pretty well and quickly builds a gap on me.
As I get to the feedzone, I reach for a bottle from bottlestand 2000! I'm going too fast and can't get the bottle out.
For 2/3rds of the second lap I'm leading Kerry. Then we get passed by a geared rider from the class that started after us. No problem, but we are climbing, and he's now in our way. I bump his rear wheel and loose my line. This is Kerry's chance to scoot around me.
That's cool. I get back to Kerry's wheel and I'll just stay here, marking him.
We get around to the feedzone, I slow down a little more,! I actually have to stop and go back to get my bottle. Fortunately Kerry doesn't go apeshit through the feedzone and I get back to his wheel.
When we get back to the blacktop, I start pulling around him, but don't want to start wasting a lot of energy yoyoing back and forth with him, so I give him a little push to keep him in front.
That little push leads to a little gap, and the elastic is beginning to stretch. Kerry is riding away from me.
At the top of the biggest climb I still have him in sight, and now David Wilcox. Wilcox is running his bike around the last corner, Kerry rides it.
As I get to the top, I can see them in the singletrack going the other direction. Kerry's catching him!
I don't know if I'll be able to get him, but I'm stoked for Kerry.
Then at the bottom of a rocky descent I pass David fixing a flat, and Kerry is nowhere in sight.
I catch a geared rider who built his bike the night before the race. His bike is noisy. I hate noisy bikes. We swap spots back and forth, if the trail points up I go to the front, down he does. Finally after the feed (I didn't even try), I put some distance between us so I don't have to listen to it.
The rest of the last lap is uneventful. I start getting glimpses of Kerry now and again, but there is no way I'm closing that gap. I keep on looking over my shoulder, and no one's back there... until Ken Welch from the 50+ group comes blazing past.
Kerry gets the win and I get second. If David didn't flat, it might have been a pretty tough battle for that spot, but as they say, that's racing and he finishes 4th behind Emrah.
My Swift, BluSteel, performed silently, and flawlessly, helping me limit my losses on the descents with it's superbly balanced geometry and superior fork. The more upright position definitely didn't slow me down and probably helped me keep consistent lap times throughout the race by keeping me fresher.

It's great to be racing again. All the pre-race nerves, race prep, after race clean up and recovery are worth it once you finally begin to test your meddle. Sounds like WT Fat Tire Classic is going to have a great turnout too.

Notes and Shout Outs
The night before the race Kerry e.mailed me as to what gear to run. I jokingly replied "it's really steep, run your very smallest gear". Kerry took it at face value and did just that. I'm glad it worked for him, because I'd feel like a total dick if he was spun out.

503 Cycleworx represented with Brian Cantele taking home the Cat1 40-49 win in his return to racing and James Harmon taking 5th in the Pro race. Congratulations! Great riding guys!

Day before the race I bought a pair of shoes and glasses at Berlin Bike. I bought my first custom wheelset from them back in 1994 which is still in service on Kim's bike. I hardly ever shop there, yet Chris still showed me the love. Great staff and great selection. I'll have to shop there more.

Stay the fook out of the way pre-riding when people are racing. I appreciate you want to get to know the course and warm up, but have respect for those who are racing.

I'm not really in this for the prizes, but I thought it was a little lopsided that all the winners from the Cat1 age groups got wheelsets, while the winner of the Cat1 SS got a jug of energy drink powder, and the Junior winner got a floor pump. If anything I think the junior riders should get the best schwag, and although I'd probably rather a floor pump than a heavy 26" wheelset, I think the prizes should be a little closer in value.
No medals either. I love those.

When the results are posted online I will edit this and replace "Marty's" with the actual rider's name (which turned out to be Emrah Aghan). I didn't catch it on the line, he didn't stick around for results, or pre-register, so I'm working with what I got.

Had a couple of pictures, but my camera phone isn't speaking with the internet right now, so the Google Maps shot will have to do.


Bonnie said...

I love reading about your cycling. Your love for the sport comes through.

Nathaniel said...

I'm cool with the floor pump. I don't really need it, though. Still is better than nothing. Awesome race.

Hill Junkie said...

Nice work! I see a good season ahead of you.

charlieb said...

congrats to you and kerry!!

Reinout said...

Nice finish. Unfortunately I was about 17 minutes back from y'all. It was just good to be back and actually FINISH a race for the first time in 5 years. Cheers

CB2 said...

If you're available on Sunday the 18th, Winding Trails Fat Tire Classic is a super fun course. Very fast. Almost the same pace as Singlespeed-a-polooza.
I'm going to pre-ride tomorrow, give a course report, and even tell what gear and tires I'll be running.