Friday, March 16, 2012

Spa City 6 Hour Race

Bah... 2012 is starting off to look a whole lot like 2011, and I have got to do something to change that. I spent a good amount of time building trail karma in anticipation of the 2012 race season. It has to start kicking in soon.
Anyway, on to the title of this post. The 6 hour race was a race I had been looking forward to for a decent amount of time. It was a home course for me and it suits my riding style fairly well. It is a 10.something mile loop with roughly 1000 ft of climbing per lap and, while it isn't what I consider technical, it does take some handling skills to keep your momentum through all the corners.
The race started out with an abnormally long lemans style start which was pretty brutal on the ol' knees and ankles. I don't mean to complain, but I think I am...
The first lap was fast, and I came through the start/finish area about a minute or two behind the few guys like Byan Fawley and Tinker Juarez  that were really drilling it at the front. This was okay, it is where I wanted to be. I would much rather race to catch the few folks in front near the end of the race than be running too hot and burn out a few hours into an event. I firmly believe that endurance racing is won through intelligent pacing.
Lap two threw me for a loop. I don't think I have ever had a flat tire at Cedar Glades, and I usually run race tires. This time, I decided to run some heavier tires with reinforced sidewalls just to be on the safe side. Somehow, I still managed to get a flat tire. I'm not sure exactly what caused it.
I jumped off the bike and proceeded to begin fixing the issue. After getting a tube swapped in and hitting it with an instant inflator, I realized that the tube had pushed the tire over the sidewall in one area....Wah Wah.
This is when I start kicking myself in the ass. I always race with a hand-pump, but this time I opted for C02, and I only had one C02 device. I let some air out, enough to get the tire back on the rim, and put in the remaining air from my inflator.
This got the tire up to....oh, I don't know, 10 psi?
I decided to start cruising at whatever speed I could until I came up with a plan. About 5 minutes later I *happened to find* another c02 to use. -Thanks for wearing the jersey with loose pockets, Dave.
Now I was back up and ready to start reclaiming my position. The last half of lap 2 and all of lap 3 were pretty hot. I caught the majority of people who passed me during my last minor inconvenience.
This went on until the beginning of lap 4 when I realized that the rear end of my bike felt squishy. Not just a little soft.... Jello squishy. Warm, delicious, Jello squishy.
At this point I began to baby the bike around the course in an effort to keep from making the rear wheel complete trash.
I failed.
When I came into pit after lap 4 my wheel had basically come untensioned. The nipples were just twisting loose on the spokes.
Double Crap.
It was starting to look like I was done for the day.
Then, I was lucky enough to be offered a bike from the one and only Todd Henne. Funny thing, it was the exact same bike that I competed on last time I did Spa City. I don't mean the same model, I mean the exact same bike....I sold it to him about a year ago.
The next two laps were fun. Painful, since I was on a single-speed, but fun nonetheless. I had pretty much given up on getting the result that I wanted, so at this point, I was just enjoying an absolutely perfect day to ride a mountain bike.
At the end of the day, after 60 something miles, I was smiling. I got to spend a perfect day riding a bike. Regardless of how well/terrible a race goes, its always another day on the bike, and that's something worth smiling about.
A quick shout out to Sarah Miller for being the best support person ever. Love ya.

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