This was a race I’d done once before, and honestly, I wasn’t really looking forward to doing it again. The Chainbiter ‘Cross race at the same venue last fall was more technical than the mountain bike course from what I remembered . The delivery of my single speed was delayed yet again and for this race, I wasn’t sweating it. A 95% semi-flat fire road hammer-fest is not a single speedin’ good time. However the course was totally redesigned with way more fun added to the formula this year. There was actually singletrack and some punchy climbs to break up the big ring gnashing, overall very nice. I liked the course so much I rode it a total of nearly seven times with warm up and cool down.
On with it already…So I swing over to Colin and Linnea’s to pick them up, Alex rolls up having ridden over from Newton with a twenty pound rucksack full of gear, a wonky as all get out rear wheel, and the most freaking amazing cupcakes I have ever experienced. I’m not kidding, they were of two varieties: Mojito, complete with a mint leaf on top, and “Car Bomb” with Guiness and Bailey’s amongst the ingredients (mmm Bailey’s…creamy…beige). I couldn’t wait to finish my race so I could stuff my face with them things. We now have the wrangling of four bikes onto the roof of the wee Subaru down to a science, so we were on the road in no time flat, with me nearly missing the first of the three turns I had to make to get us there. I like to get some of my requisite acts of awesomeness over with early in the day.
Alex was doing the sport race so we were there with ample time to spare for once, so much time that we didn’t really know what to do with ourselves. Linnea, Colin, and I got out on course pre-ride and heckle/cheer the sport riders, and give Alex and George some support. I don’t usually get to spectate so it was cool watching guys in running shoes and jeans riding HardRocks whupping up on guys with shaved legs riding S-Works FSRs and Carbon Orbeas.
Got a good semi-hot lap in just before the start and hit the line feeling relaxed. George was there with his boys to see me off, his son Lazlo rocking his freshly won silver medal, ya dude! The sun came out just before the whistle and I began shucking layers, wishing I had time to ditch my undershirt, I didn’t so I laid my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup down and tried to follow the leaders off the line to the uphill hole-shot through a deceptively loose corner into the singeltrack. It was mayhem, I had no idea where I was when I fell in line behind John Foley and Sean Cavanaugh. I guess I made some passes in there, but I was clueless as to how many dudes were ahead of us. After a lap at “Jesus Christ I am gonna to frickin’ die” pace, a selection was made and it was me, Foley, and Cavanaugh for the rest of the race. Sean was on his Single Speed 29er with a 36 X 18 gear, a true “two to one” on the 29, not that translated from 26” B.S., i.e. a big god damn gear, big enough not just to hang on this high speed course, but big enough to instigate and punish the geared riders. I’d open a gap on him just to have him blaze by me on the slightest incline like he was unaffected by the Earth’s gravitational pull and I was in a deep sea diving suit at the bottom of an undersea canyon.
After sitting in fourth lap, I was ready to make my last ditch attack on my companions. This I implemented just past the start finish and managed not to wash out on the wood-chippy corner at the top. I got a gap and tacked a little bit onto it through the first part of the course. I could still see both those guys back there, the elastic was firmly in place, it was stretched, but showed no sign of snapping. My pace was ‘Cross pace, the laps were taking twenty minutes. I figured I can do anything for fifteen minutes so it was just really, really going to suck for the last five minutes.
I was pushing the biggest gear I possibly could, big ring, third cog from the bottom, not sure what that is…44 X 15? Never had any reason to check, not cogs I use a lot. Somehow, Sean was not disappearing into the distance, he was still breathing down my neck. There was just enough air between us to relax going into the finish, glad there was because Sean could easily have snapped that 19.5 Lb. Bike up the final incline at the finish before I could say “Why the hell did I have a bowl of ice cream, brownies and half a Boston Cream donut for desert last night?” then barf all over my top tube.
After I crossed the line I put it in a wee little gear and spun out on the course for a cool down lap. When I got back and checked the results I was shocked to see I had again landed in third place. Huh? Ahead of me were Peterson and Freye who had overtaken him to finish on top of the podium. Technically that puts me in the series leader’s jersey but I didn’t know that and I guess neither did the officials, we’ll see how long I can hold onto to that virtual thing anyway.
And George Shaw finishing 23rd in a big ol’ Sport 30-39 field.
No racing next week, heading up to Waitsfield, VT to ride some gaps with Jeff Whittingham and Greg The Leg, can’t hardly wait.