Monday, June 3, 2013

Still nothing to brag about

This was one of the best of the weekends I've experienced in a long time. It started out with some course work for the ABRA's ProBike Short Track Series Race #1 on Friday night. Most people have no idea how much work JR puts into his courses. Having had the benefit of helping JR a time or two, I want to publicly thank him for going the extra mile every week, to make sure we have a chance at epicness. And this weekend was extra difficult  given that he proved to be harder working than most of the ABRA equipment as things kept breaking down all around him. JR, thanks for all you do to make racing happen locally. I hope you know just how much you're appreciated and never let a few idiots deter you from continuing to put on bicycle races.

... so after darkness halted the trail building, it was time to sit around a campfire with a few of my teammates (JR, Stephanie Lamb, Shawn Geiger, and Sean Hilty), enjoy a cold beverage or 6, and laugh for a few hours. I headed to my tent around 1AM and immediately fell into a deep sleep. Sometime before 2 though, I was awakened to something rocking my tent. I have no idea what it was or if I was only dreaming that it happened, but I laid there wide awake for a long time, trying to hear when my impending doom would try approaching again. I finally fell back asleep and woke up around 5AM, still holding the only "weapon" I had in the tent, a can of ProGold Blastoff. The stuff is fantastic for cleaning your drive train, but I knew it would do little good against a pack of wolves, a wayward lion, or the chubacabra I'd seen earlier that day.
Mythical creature my ass... These are a live and well in Oakdale, PA

As the sun came up, I did what all experienced campers do, I checked facebook and saw that Shawn had just checked into a cafe somewhere nearby. I thought about messaging him to ask for him to bring back a couple breakfast sandwiches, but then remembered that I still had some Krispy Kremes in the truck and Amber would be headed our way shortly to cheer us on. At 730AM, it was already 76* and even the slightest activity resulted in beads of sweat pouring through the skin. It was going to be a hot one for sure. Since I've only ever done a handful of MTB races and log maybe 100 miles annually on my Cannondale Caffeine, I signed up for the Cat 3 Beginner race with teammate Billy Slutz. Prior to the race, I told billy that I was just going to go easy from the start because I planned to do several more races throughout the day.

But when the whistle blew for the start, for some unexplained reason I pegged it, got the whole shot, and hammered down the twisty track.
 Hole shot secured... now to start drifting back thought he filed on the uphill portions
At the "bottom" of the course, I had opened up a fairly sizable gap on the field (proof that fat has more gravitational pull than bone and muscle combined). Shortly after the trail turned and we started climbing back up towards where we started, I was passed by 1 rider, as we headed into the short piece of "single track".
Still testing the limits of the old school Lefty
Immediately after we climbed the bank out of it, I was passed by an E2C2 rider and then Billy. By the time I got to log crossing, I had fallen to 6th but was right on the wheel of 5th place. I held my position to the finish of lap 1, and after clearing the off camber hairpin, I used the gravitational pull of my fatmass and moved into 4th place on the downhill where I stayed throughout most of the race. When I came across the finish line the second time, there was a small red and white box sitting on the course to one side of the trail. My initial instinct was to grab it but I hear JR and Dennis telling me it was a prime, so I sat up and left it there, only to hear them both sigh in disbelief that I had failed to bag the prize. That didn't happen again the rest of the day. Lap 3 I grabbed a dollar out of a coke can
and lap 4 I scored a saddle bag, and for the first time in my life, I was somewhat disappointed that the race was done on lap 5.  I did get passed half way through lap 5 and fell to 5th place, where I ultimately finished, but it was FINALLY a podium position for me. And what made even more awesome was that Billy "Bearpaw" Slutz hammered his way to the well earned victory.
Podium photo, check! but now I want to be photographed standing on the boxes
After a 35 minute break, I got back on my Cannondale and went to the starting line with the rest of the Cat 2/3 Sport racers.
No wonder Gunnar always gets the damned hole shot on me. He's cheating while I'm tweeting
I was again joined by Bearpaw, as well as Shawn Geiger and Chris Jones. I had secret visions of me hammering at the start and grabbing the hole shot again but when the whistle blew and the legs were asked to respond, I knew immediately I was out on a training ride. I did manage to start the race in roughly the top 5 but not even the gravitational pull on the downhill could help me maintain my starting position as rider after rider rode on past. Finally, Billy caught up to me and said something to the effect that he was feeling tired and wanted to just ride around the course. I got on his wheel and we agreed to try to ride together and enjoy the day. Into the single track and up the little climb, Billy just kept inching away from me.
I actually had to work hard to stay with him to fulfill my end of the bargain. As we approached the starting finishing line, we were riding side by side
so I backed off so that we could each take a shot at grabbing the prime, but as we made the last sharp turn towards the finish, low and behold, JR was still propping it up from a previous failed attempt by another rider to grab it. BOOO!, lets get on the ball son, I have a cross bike to build up for Amber. On the downhill section, I just let the bike roll and opened a bit of a gap on Billy, something I was very happy to have because I knew he was SOOOOO much stronger on the uphill portions than I was.
230#'s chasing 155#'s uphill
It worked out perfectly I think, he pushed me to try to stay on his wheel on the climbs, which is his strong suit, and I pushed him to try to let his bike roll on the downhills, which is better suited to my strengths. for primes, I scored a set of light up bar plugs on lap 2 and then a set of bar end plugs  that were lying flat on the ground. I even impressed myself with that one. I guess it pays to have 37" sleeve lengths for some things. Billy finished in 10th and me in 11th, but it was one of the most enjoyable days on the bike in a long, long time.  I can't wait until round 2.