Wednesday, May 12, 2010

On the Rocks

French Creek
08-May. I love riding French Creek, always have. There are miles and miles of awesome singletrack that just never gets old. Racing there, is aonther story though. Sure, the trails are still fun, but put yourself in debt there, and you could pay dearly. Today I woke up feeling fresh, relaxed and all around good. I loaded up my bikes (which as it turned out was clutch) and drove 30 mins to the park.

A few of us roll out for a warmup. I hadn't had my bike out for a shakedown since installing the new gearing (which necessitated the use of a half link) so I was taking it easy. We pedaled a half mile or so up the road start and dropped into the woods. after a few hundred yards of descent, we make a hard right at the bottom and start climbing. It takes a few hundred yards until the bottom dropped out. I looked down and saw my chain dangling with only half of the half link. Eff. I had to hoof it out. time was of the essence because I had a long-ish run out with an inoperable race bike all with maybe 40 mins from gun time. Dodging sport and endurance racers the whole way back, its no wonder I didnt break an ankle out there, but I made it back. There wasnt time to fix the bike, so that meant that I was racing my rigid steel singlespeed. I had no choice really, so might as well go out and have fun right?

Well fun I had. I sat back at the start, full well knowing that the first couple miles are all climbing. People love to blow themselves up here. I was right. People were dropping like flies and about halfway through, I was in no man's land. I had no idea where I was in the field... I was just riding and having fun.

Toward the end of the first lap, I passed Alesio #2. At the beginning of the second lap, I passed Alesio # 1. Knowing that these guys are headcases, I wasn't convinced that I was doing well. So I just kept plugging away. Toward the top of the Orange climb, I see two guys ahead. One is Cameron Dodge (who DNF'd and was just riding along) and the other was a Team CF guy. I pushed hard to catch Cameron on the flats above Orange, only to have him veer off in front of me to let me race (since he was out). Him being there helped, but it was disappointing that now all of the sudden I had no carrot. I pushed the downhill pretty hard, hoping to catch a glimpse of the CF guy. I came out of the woods at the lake and there he was...

I wanted to catch that guy bad. I pushed with all I had to catch up, but he was staying away. I reach the double track which leads to the finish maybe 3/4 mile out and for some reason, I'm pulling on him pretty hard. Turns out that he was fiddling with his number plate. D'oh! So I announce my presence on his left. He looked up and looked shocked. As he looked at me, he drifted over and I clipped his bars sending him off the trail a bit. Sorry! I yelled as I pushed on. He came back with a vengence though, passing me just before the last hairpin. I pull alongside on the field with one hard corner to go. He drifted out sending me into the bushes and I tried to cut back inside. He got me by a wheel.

After the race, I sat down near the finish area and Harlan came up to me to offer congrats and make sure that I was OK with his antics in the last quarter mile... "totally fine" I said. "that's racing" It was a ton of fun rubbing elbows at the finish, as its not something that happens every day in mountain bike racing. Good stuff and a great race. A crispy new Benjamin in my pocket on the day.

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