Awaking Sunday to a strong feeling of deja vu, I again embarked on a multi-hour trek to the insurance capital of the US (Connecticut) for some mountain bike racing with George, Arik and Natalia. For those of you keeping count, this is 4 races and 4 different bike configurations in 6 weeks. My shop has been all too occupied of late, but at long last I've got a bike that I don't plan on changing any more until cyclocross becomes an olympic sport.
After blowing away all the other younguns at Orchard Assault, I was feeling pretty good about this one. I mean, I only hammered out 80 miles on Saturday with Eric, proceeded to get 6hrs sleep and had my own little NASCAR pit crew of racing buddies to feed me and cheer me on. A good shout of encouragement will overcome a set of balding tires (that raced the entire transrockies last year) in the mud any day of the week, right?
Rolling 5th into the woods, I hit the first slippery, steep climb and it was immediately clear that it would be a long day. With my legs only giving 80% and the traction hovering around 50%, I wasn't getting much of anywhere, though neither was anyone else. I manged to be ahead of the inevitable pile-up on the first climb, allowing me to hang in my my 5th (or thereabouts) spot without much difficulty and stay there for a lap or so.
It probably wasn't too awful that my legs weren't putting out, because even pushing HR numbers in the 150s, I was slipping around like a Brabus SL on the track (skip to 4:30 for the fun part).
When you're big enough to ride an XL size bike with a nearly maxed 410mm post, limited traction is not synonymous with competitive advantage. It is, however often synonymous with "rubber side up"--a move which I elegantly executed on the last downhill of lap 1 when faced with the choice between crossing up on a tree doing double digit mphs or pulling the eject lever after losing my line on a wet root.
Anyway, after making a solid spectacle for a gaggle of onlookers, I hopped back on and was all psyched for the feed zone. Nothin' like a little isotonic sugar solution to rinse out those wounds, right? Ok, maybe that's gross, but nonetheless my feed was conspicuously absent.
As my muscles were far from allowing me to be anerobic, I was able to puzzle out that seeing my pit crew dorking around with my camera on the other side of the course was probably incompatible with my finding them at the feed zone to hand me bottles. Maybe next lap?
Nobody can complain about a good photo of themselves looking fast, it's often better for one's rep then actually being fast, but my pit crew not only neglected to be available in the feed zone for the entire race but also neglected to put a memory card in the camera, leaving no verifiable evidence of the angry looks I gave them on each of the subsequent laps as I dipped deeper and deeper into my fat metabolism.
Not one to hold a grudge, I did get some photos of them looking fast, mainly so you can shove a stick in their spokes the next time you see them:
(I love you guys)
By lap 4 I was practically softpedaling, but everything would have been fine had I not choco-dipped myself and my bike in a giant sloppy mud-puddle at the top of climb 1, rendering my drivetrain all but completely inoperable and my person more than a little chilly. From that point on it was survival mode to the finish. Thankfully I only got passed by Cary before it was all over for 6th place overall and about 13min off the leaders.
Natalia had a solid ride by contrast, taking the hole shot off the line:
and placing 2nd to the girl on her wheel:
to take the leader place for the series.
Coyote hill next!
All the photos here.