Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Battle of Charge Pond

Well if there's anything I should be worried about bringing a roadie to a MTB race, it's certainly not an overly well-developed fear of death. At this weekend's outing to Charge Pond, there were four significant crashes in two races, one of which took out a quarter of the A field, making sitting way off the back and trying to stay on your bike a reasonable strategy for finishing top 25. Thankfully no-one was wheeled off on a gurney. The main things injured in the carnage were the finances (and likely, by association, the marriages) of a large number of middle-aged white men. There's nothing that says "don't go home without flowers" like blowing your kids' college fund on a $10,000 bike and then turning it into mechanical pencil refills in a human fender-bender a month before the real racing season starts. (I maintain the moral high ground by continuing to avoid carbon fiber bikes like economy cars with bashed up front-passenger quarter panels).

Eric managed to keep the rubber side down and out of the wind to hang for most of the race until a narrow miss of the biggest mashup put him off the back and his legs refused to carry him back of to the front.
I similarly kept the rubber side down by making the strategically flawed but ultimately safe decision that you can't get crashed out by someone else if you're on the front. Coming from a purely off-road background, the concept of not going as hard as you can sustain for [insert race duration here] from beginning to end is totally foreign to my sensibilities and thus I pulled a lot of wind. Seemingly, I didn't break enough of it to keep the field off my back wheel. Nonetheless I came into the last corner second wheel, where I executed my second major tactical error. Knowing I could take the corner faster than the lead I elected to take him on the outside (as he initially took the inside line). Of course he crossed a couple logical lanes by the end, barely keeping on the pavement and sending me into the sand. Needless to say I wasn't in the best position for the sprint... Inside next time for sure.

Being a veteran of multi-hundred mile off-road stage races that have fewer injuries than this hour of racing, I was truly dumbfounded at how it's easier to get hurt riding a road bike around a paved circle than doing a full tour of duty in Iraq, until I saw this:
I know doping is rampant in road cycling (and probably in MTB too, although the sport isn't popular enough for anyone to care), but note the warning label on this pill bottle that clearly states: "May Cause drowsiness", and most likely further down "do not operate machinery while using this medication", though I didn't roll it over to check for fear its owner might wake up while I was futzing with his meds and kill me to keep me from telling the WADA. Anything that makes you sleepy isn't going to make you faster. As empirical evidence shows, it will probably just cause you to destroy your foofy carbon bike.

Back to the woods where it's safe!

More photos here.

1 comment:

Richard said...

That is why I gave up road racing. Mountain biking is not only much safer; it is a lot more fun too.

Great post!