Well, that was a pretty good time. Very nice race, highly recommended to anyone. So nice to get to a non-verge pressure cooker race, but one that still has enough people to make it fun. AND they run a single speed race with the women, which makes perfect sense. Why do we have ZERO single speed races under NEBRA? Honestly, not one? Its a great second race, and makes for awesome spectating and racing cause its stays so close and you get great battles between riders.
So, I have been trying to refill my tanks a bit by sleeping in and only racing one weekend. I have been feeling it ALOT the last few weeks. Working during the week doesn’t help. I am jealous of SWD.
As a result, I chose to do the B men’s race, cause Bennington may be in Vermont, but its three hours away. Yah, no joke. 3hrs. And the races were an hour earlier then the usual schedule. 10 AM was masters and 11 AM was B. 1230 was single speed, which I was excited about.
Well, I got there at 9:40. Sooo much time…I can’t sit around that long, its impossible. I am too impatient. So I looked at the course while waiting for the bathroom, and it looked pretty simple, bunch of turns on a grassy hill, simple high speed double, and a grassy forced run up. Some sandy area that looked pretty simple too.
So, I rushed over and signed up for Masters. Rushed back and got changed, rushed down to do a lap. As I was headed up the hill for a lap, the lady doing numbers came running after me and INSISTED that I change numbers! Umm. I am pretty laid back at races, since I suck and all, so I was like, alright, I aint gonna argue about it. Seems I was 160 when I should have been 140. Oooookay. So she unpins, s_l_o_w_l_y, and then says “let me just add one in the middle”. Oh, I thought, how nice, I always add a 5th pin on the bottom side of the number, in the middle, so it does not flap. I roll off, as now people are lining up. Then I see that she ONLY put a pin in the middle. 3 pins. Nope, not gonna do it. I went after her and asked her to go ahead and do the other corners (please). Then I lined up. 4th row. Ugh.
I was not too worried about not seeing the course. Heck, I did this at Amesbury last year and got like 4th. Amesbury is complicated. This looks simple.
Up the paved hill start, and I am moving up well, cause I have great start legs when I dont warm up (holeshot at Amesbury…). I am up to Dan Coady’s wheel, he is taking it chill at the start, he can do that. I stay on his wheel. No way I am passing him. That would be stupid. We are about 10-15th.
I guess everyone had the same idea, cause some guy tried crash me right the heck off the course going across the ?tennis court? thing by registrataion. Right where you turn left between the fence and a big tree. Banging away enough that I had to yell at him! I should add here that I never, EVER get all amped up during races and yell at people. Its actually almost a problem, to be perfectly honest. I am more likely to make a face or crack a joke, to my own detriment. Clearly I am no “in” the race enough if that is my mindset. I apologize when I crash into someone, or even when they crash me. I always, always ask if people are OK when they case it and I run over them (just ask Carl, its usually him).
But these people who ride around yelling at people and barking and swearing and banging like its the UF effing C on roids really piss me off. Its why I quit MTB racing back in the early 90s when all the muscle head Joeys from down south started coming up into NH and VT for the Sport class races. Can’t deal with it. That may be how you people act in daily life down in Mass, but its not how we roll up here in hippy land.
Anyway, so I had to tell the guy to WATCH IT! Seriously dude. Have a coke. Teach the world to smile.
So, after that maneuver (me, racing line, him, tree), after the next corner, he tries AGAIN, this time trying to get between me and the course tape on a sloppy, leaf covered little hill on the top of the course.
He got into the tape, crashed, and came across my front wheel. I held it up (of course) but got sent into the guy to my right. No biggy. Until we realized that my “support our troops” rubber wrist band thingy had gotten AROUND the end of his handlebar. Now, I am looking at this thing right now, and its pretty snug. You can see it in my pictures from races. I can just barely get two fingers under it. So how the HELL did we get hooked together? The dude starts cussing me out, of course, as I am yanking away trying to get it unhooked. Honest! It was completely surreal.
You realize of course that I believe (it is my recollection) we are RIDING our bikes at this time. Me one handed. Frantic. Finally, after what had to have been many, many (milli)seconds…we are free.
Ugh. Its right around now that my “start” legs are blowing up into my “didn’t warm up legs.” Plus the course starts UPHILL. Its a hard course. So, I mentally check out and try to settle in. Enough of this craziness, off you go then. Maybe I will get to run you over when you stack it in front of me later (no apologies for YOU!). It was like a B race, really, sucked. I may as well have done the Bs! Anyway, so we go over the barriers, which I take well. Then we proceed to zigzag our way down this hill through all these “simple” corners.
Kudos to NYCROSS, they lay a mean course. The corners where not Gloucester easy, they were more like 200 degree miny spirals that were off camber and greasy and really hard to line up. I was brake checking the shit outa my first two laps. Then, I was well and truly spit out the back. Then, I had to take my lap off (traditionally lap 2-3). Man, why did I not warm up? I made a point of riding almost every day this week to avoid last weekend’s debacle. And yet, I find a way to send MYSELF out the back.
I tried to rally, but the course is half up hill and half soggy power robbing grass. I was hating my 34 grifos (my front rhyno is being repaired). Three to go and I came around a bit and passed a few people, but the gaps had been established and there is no way I can close 15 seconds in the last two laps of a race. And even then, that is just one place. Nope, gotta make the splits in the BEGINNING of the race.
I finished 19th. Pretty poor outing. I can hang with David Rath on a good day, and he was 10th. On a hilly course like this, he probably kills me, but still, I should have been top 15.
So, after chatting up Sir Colin of One Ell, I decide I need to do single speed. Its why I screwed myself in the masters race after all. And its really a nice course. Two playgrounds! And they are NICE, no full of needles and condoms like these eastern Mass city races we do. Or Baltimore that year at nats…shiver…
I was muddy, so I switched to my Richard Sachs long sleeve skinny. Black. Le Kit Noire. I gotta say, love my team, and its great to be on one this year, but riding the Sachs in the Sachs kit just feels g’damn racey. Its faster. Period.
We lined up, I hole shotted, and quickly sat the hell up, as I was worried about my sore legs. I wanted to ride chill for 2 laps, thinking that we would stay close cause of the whole one gear thing. That is true to a point, but not if you are not trying really really hard. Which I was specifically not doing. Then, after I was 7th and watching the gaps open to 6th, I tried to speed up. Umm…yah…about that…You can’t. Hey, only my 2nd single speed race, forgive my tactical naivete. The ONLY way to move up is to ride completely PERFECT and just nail every every turn/transition at MAX speed. Then pedal REALLY hard on the REALLY hard bits. But dont slow down after, cause then the gaps open up (if you are chasing) or close (if you are attacking). Its actually fascinating and awesome.
Anyway, I worked it and was riding super well/clean. Guys were casing it and I was up to 4th! On lap three (up the hill starting 4 to go) I tried to snap the elastic on Elvis (guy on my wheel). I drilled it on all the hard parts, I was killing him, I could hear his labored breathing. I rested when he closed back up and then drilled it some more. I gapped him good several times, but, the nature of single speed, the gaps you make are really small, cause you can only gain time on the really hard sections, which are short.
Each time he clawed back. Ugh. So on 3 to go, I sat on him. But it felt easy, and 6th was closing. Having seen how hard it was to drop anyone, I did not dare sit on. So I passed him and attacked all lap again with 2 to go, and tried to burn him off. I did, I was killing him on the barriers, on the steep hill up to the run up, and on the run up. But he was fast in corners (turns out he BUILT the course!) and had TONS of people cheering for him. Yah, he lives there. He murdered himself to come back each time, and I murdered myself to drop him.
It was EPIC. It was why I race bikes. It was BEATIFUL. It was me and Carl at Williston Verge #2 again.
Coming thru for the bell he tried to pass me, I sprinted and blocked. Then, on the paved hill he laid it down. BOOM. I dunno where he got it from, I had been sticking knives in his legs for two laps. But he gapped me. Ok, dont panic, get him on the barriers. I worked back up to him just at the barriers but only was able to use the barriers to close the gap, not to gap him. Then he dropped me thru the sand mud bog (locals line). I even tried to run it to gain some seconds. That worked a bit, but then he gapped me as I remounted. I killed it and just squeezed the course for seconds, but it was one lap too many. 12 times around that hilly course and I just did not have it. When I could not get him by the run up, it was over and I rolled it in. Good for him!
Afterwards, he collapsed. I rolled up and he right away shook my hand and agreed it was epic. I said we should have just gone out in the parking lot and thrown fists and skip the whole 45 minutes of pedalling hard part.
Plus, he had a pony tail and grey hair so I am pretty sure I would have taken him.
Checked the results. I was 1:30 or so FASTER in race #2, on a SINGLE SPEED, on a HILL course. Yah, I suck.
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