Sunday, April 18, 2010

Winding Trails Fat Tire Classic

Winding Trails is my "home" race being only a ten minute drive from my house. Fast, winding singletrack connected by rooty doubletrack. This years addition; Awesome!
We had 21 entrants in the Cat1 Singlespeed class this year; that rivals the size of the largest groups around here and was the second largest Cat1 field at the race.
The bikes ranged from the jury rigged geared frame to the blingiest plastique, to subtle, purposeful and elegant steel.
The start was a total cluster flock. The start time was published 15 minutes apart on two websites so people just showed up at the line and started lining up without rhyme or reason. The starting gate was too small and funneled us out onto a very sandy fireroad. A good deal of the field rode off to the left on the grass around a stand of fir trees. On consequent laps I regreted not taking this line, because I don't believe it was considered cutting the course and might have been faster.
Speaking of faster, Winding Trails is a fast course. Having 21 singlespeeders geared similarly on such a fast course leads to exciting racing. Full bore.
Entering the singletrack I think I was in the top 10. It was tough to tell because of the speed and the melee at the start. The pace wasn't really fast enough for me in the singletrack and I was afraid I was going to loose the front of the field due to the elastic effect. I dug deep and made a wholesale pass which brought me up to 4th or 5th on the next fireroad.
From there the top 5 spots swapped back and forth, but in such a way that we weren't slowing each other down. We were separating ourselves from the field, but not by much.
Coming into the third lap, it was time to give bottlestand 2000 it's chance to shine. But there was a lady standing in front of it in the feedzone! I'm waving and shouting for her to get out of the way, but she was oblivious. Kerry's wife Sandy even tried to get her attention to get her out of the way. In the end, I just rode straight at her and at the last minute she got the idea, and I got a bottle. Success!
This was the impetus for Steve from Bikeman to catch and pass me. I stayed close to him on the third lap and passed him going into the forth (that put me into third). Jim from Pawling Cycles was beginning to eat away at Will from IBC's lead; Will was running a 58" gear and I think it was beginning to wear on him.
Jim, got him, and on a climb, and soon after I got him too.
Not too long after though Steve passed me back on a fireroad. I actually wasn't too concerned because his breath was pretty labored. But he was going fast!
And Will was right on my wheel!
Rats! I thought I dropped him, instead he was getting what little draft he could off me getting a little relief. He passed me and then made a cheeky pass of a lapped rider going into the singletrack which gave him a little breathing room. I guess I could have tried to get around her in the tight stuff, but it was off camber, and tight, and the chances of making her crash, or even crashing myself were too great; passing would have ranked high on the Dick-O-Meter.
There was one hike-a-bike for us singlespeeders near the finish, as I approached it Jim and Steve are running up it side by side!
In the end Jim won the sprint to the finish. I got forth. There was only 49 second between 1st and 4th. Now that's racing! Full out, balls to the wall racing!

Mad Props and Notes
Tim Burton of CVC /Subaru of New England was in the mix for the first 3 laps, but cramps took him out of contention, but up to then he was crushing it.

503 Cycleworx again had a stellar showing with James Harmon taking 4th in the Pro class and Josh Wilcox snagging 9th. Brian Cantele grabbed 2nd in the Cat1 40-49, and Alex Combes took 2nd in his mountain bike racing debut in the Cat2 30-39.

Right before the race Kerry Robair from Biker's Edge told me he was running a 34x20. Although I said I wasn't showing my hand, running a 49" gear at WT would be racing suicide. I had an 18 in my truck that we quickly swapped out. The first couple of laps I'd see him 20 second or so back, but he began to drop his chain and lost some places. So I don't no if in the end I helped him or hurt him. From my pre-riding I think it was probably the former as I was able to trim 4 minutes off my lap time by running a 32x17 instead of a 32x18 (54.6" instead of 51.6").

4th place puts me in the lead of Cat1 SS class in the least for now. I'll probably loose the lead next weekend as I chose to race Singlespeed-A-Palooza instead of the Root 66 race. Hopefully that will only be temporary.

*I've edited this stupid post a half dozen time today; hopefully I'm done now!*


Mookie said...

Nice work, Charlie. It was cool that the top 4 were so close.

charlieb said...

good to see a mudhound doing so well!! 32x17 = ouch!