Monday, June 01, 2009


Hours of Sleep: 4 (from 11PM-3AM)
Hours in the car: 7:40
Hours racing: 1:40(ish)

It didn't even seem like a good idea at the time - it did seem like a horrible experiment to conduct on myself, for what scientific purpose, I do not know.

I woke up, scratch that, got up at 3AM. I am not programmed to go to bed at 9PM, so I laid in bed for a few hours then got up and made coffee. Things started off auspiciously enough, tearing out of my neighborhood under the streetlights. I got about two minutes down the road before I reached for my coffee mug - no coffee mug. Where coffee mug? Must have left it on the ledge by the front door of the house as I took my bike out. Screeching U-turn, rail around the rotary, using every inch of the road, up my one way street the wrong way (if a tree falls in a forest and no one's there to...) dash back up the steps to find no coffee mug on the ledge. Then I saw it, there it was perched right on top of the car. It's one of those boat mug with the wide rubber-coated base, somehow it had remained glued to the roof as I swerved all over the place. And go!

Top to bottom, left to right:
I felt worse than I looked. Essential stay-awake listening. Mug on roof. 3:25 AM, time to roll. Large coffee, double shot. 100% fueled by caffeine, Espresso Love Gus, Coke in the waterbottles. Overpass. Re-packing of car. Last minute swapping of cog. Sweet, new Endless Bike Shirt (thanks Shanna!)

Around 6AM I was somewhere in rural southern Connecticut looking for gas and breakfast. Saw a Gas and Dunkin Donuts sign, took the exit. Here's the thing about rural southern Connecticut at 6AM on a Sunday morning, nothing is open. The situation was dire, I was damn close to running out of gas. Three exits later (and they were all those way the hell off the exit gas stations of course) I found an open gas station next to an open Dunkin Donuts. Egg & Cheese and a Large Iced with a double shot and I was on my way.

As I got closer to venue I called to check in with Rhode Island Single Speed Monster Rob Stine to cross reference directions. He had different directions, he tried to give them to me, but I was too out of it and had nothing to write on. "I'll just stick with what I've got". Good idea. Apparently the Google Death Bots that work at the offices of Google Maps (along with the drunk homeless men) felt like fucking with me, so they sent me down a forest service road that dead ended into a locked gate on the wrong side of Stewart Forest. Call to Rob, use of all available brain capacity to remember directions, sorted out and at the venue in just a few minutes. Should have listened to him the first time.

Post race, I left early, had to use what little consciousness I had remaining to get home as quickly as possible. I almost made it. Last hour and a half was on sheer force of will.

The race! The race! Talk about the race! OK...OK already. Parked the car, started rolling around, saw that the who's who of North-Eastern Single Speeders were there. Here they are below:

Who's Who? Rob Stine, James Harmon, Sean Cavanaugh, and Mike Montalbano. These are some fast motherfuckers. Good thing Harmon had glasses on, seconds after I took this photo Rob tried to poke his eyes out. "It's gonna be pretty hard to ride your bike fast if you can't freakin' SEE!" (POIK!).

Word on the trails was that my 34 X 18 would give me 0 chance of hanging with Monty. I spun back to the car to get my gear swapped out to a 17t. I checked out the start and the finish a little bit, no time for a whole pre-ride. Followed the mass of riders down to what I thought was the Start. Lined up next to the scary guys in the front row. Talked to Johs Huseby for a while, hadn't seen him in years. I think Johs is about a year younger than me but he's my elder in the sport, he really inspired me early on with the racing thing and he's just an all around super nice guy as well. His buddy Jesse from Cannondale was there on his 15 Lb. set up. I knew this was Montalbano's home turf and that he's been riding really well (Won the Winsted Woods Pro race a few weeks back!) but with a guy like that on the line (Jesse CRUSHED the local Pros at Fat Tire) he had his work cut out for him.

The start was downhill, would have been hell if we were racing geared riders, but were all doing the spin and sit in thing. My start was good, some guys kind of sat up just before the hole shot so I sprinted past and jumped on Monty's wheel, going second into the woods. Someone said "Here we go!". Shortly after that Roger from Vicious Cycles came past me, we followed Monty as long as we could, but on the first fire road section he just kind of floated away. He was running one tooth less in the back than me, which as he said "Gives you and extra mile per hour at the same cadence". He was on a mission and right from the gun and he put a big stamp, MM, on this race.

The singletrack was fast and swoopy, nice corners. FAST corners, and blind. I had fun blasting into them, not knowing what I was getting into, sliding and outriggering, until I burped or punctured my rear tire on a rock in one of them. I was going up the one nasty steep climb on the course and my rear tire was going "Bwoosh, bwoosh, bwoosh" with every pedal stroke. There Jesse came past. I tired to stay on him but honestly, tire issues aside, I was having bad sensations. The legs they were hurting when I tried to put the pressure down on the ups.

I was still in fourth when I stopped to put some air in my tire, gave it a shot, kept riding, it was still low or losing air quickly, stopped to give it another shot of Co2. I think at that point Sean, James, Johs, Rob, and Doug came by. I got going again, but in a lackluster fashion, getting all down on myself, my sleepy brain tearing itself apart. Thoughts I had: I'm going to quit bike racing, I'm going to quit my job, I'm going to enter into a sleep study, I'm going to stop thinking stupid thoughts and throttle myself to get back to the front of this fucking race!

And that's when I started really having fun, I was riding angry, trying to rip the course to shreds, I came back past all the guys who passed me aside from the top four riders. This course was fast and short (perhaps too short, if I may, at least for a guy driving four hours) like a Cross course, gaps were hard to close down once they were established. My fast and loose riding style caught up with me. The course was pretty buff, butt the rocks that were out there were damn pointy and sharp - Slide - Spwoosh! Big hole in the rear tire, Stan's sealant hemorrhaging out on my legs. I stopped and tried to make it seal, no dice. I just didn't want to have to fix that flat, just wanted to ride home damnit! I admitted defeat, took a breath (or six) hung my bike in a tree and went about throwing a tube in. It was fun to watch as the rest of the dudes came down the little chute right across from where I was sitting. Evetually I got it down and got back on the bike. For the rest of the time I rode at about 80% of race pace, just enjoying the sweet trails. Amazing how much more Ninja-like you feel when you're not cross-eyed, jamming as hard as you can in the midst of a race.

I rolled across the line, had myself a small cup of beer (any more and I would have been napping in the car in ten minutes). After the race I met a few folks, including Frenchy AKA Bike Boy (Georges, if you're serious about the entry to Highbridge I will totally take you up on it!). Unfortunately my sleep-deprived state forced me to pack up and jet as quickly as possible. Not before I spent half an hour packing the car, then un-packing the car looking for my keys (which had fallen into the cavity around the back hatch of the car). Wish I could have hung around for a while but I was pretty messed up, by the time I got home I could neither hear nor speak. Was in bed by 9, slept 'til 8. And I still feel like crap!

Thanks to Matt (and by "Matt" I mean Mike of course) and The Darkhorse cycles guys for putting this on, got to make it down to your neck of the woods more often, but maybe make a weekend of it.

When this guy passed me during the race, I knew I was in trouble


Darkhorse Cycles said...

nice to meet you and thanks for coming down! look forward to seeing at some of our other races and yeah maybe making a overnight out of it would be appropriate, but what would be the fun in that?

thanks again and to bad about the flats...
mike d

Big Bikes said...

Shows how well my brain was working, I think I called you "Matt" in my write up. I will change that!
Nice to meet you as well.


Darkhorse Cycles said...

mike/matt i've been called worse!!!

dougyfresh said...

Great to see you out there. Rest up and looking forward to the next time.

If you don't race on Sunday you should ride CT with Sean, myself and the 'crew...

Rigidnsingle said...

Glad you came down Thom, The race wouldnt have been the same without you. My girlfriend Jocelyn flatted also, somehow I forgot to tell you guys about the sharp rocks at stewart... Mike