Monday, May 14, 2012

The Battle at Burlingame, XC MTB Race

The Battle at Burlingame, put on by NBX!  New venue and a great one!

It's great to have some mountain bike races in my backyard.  Even though it was an hour drive, comparatively speaking to the ones in western Conn,  NH, or VT, it felt next door.  Anything in RI, as a RI resident, is my backyard.  It's one of my favorite thing about RI, anything and everything in the state is less than one hour away.  The other nice thing about a local race is that you get to race guys you normally ride w/ but who don't race because usually the races are just too far. And against those guys, this race was also an opportunity to redeem myself from my terrible King of Burlingame Time Trial showing.  

Pre-rode the course the day before the race w/ Stacey, which turned out to be a slight mess.  It took more than 11 miles to ride the one 5 mile lap, and that included missing 2 miles of the course, which turned out to be the most important/ best section.

Got to the race late... (back to my normal timing!), and got in maybe 10 mins of warm up. It was great to be at the starting line w/ some of the familiar race faces and some of my ridding buddies (i.e: Freddie, Steve, and Rich).  I also felt pretty damn fast lining up in the sharp new kits!  I wasn't initially sure I was going to try a fast start again, like I had at the Massasoit race last week, but since I did not get to see that experiment through, I decided to go for it.  Well, somewhat hard, since I still needed to warm up a bit.  The aim was to try to keep Rich in my sight. 

Dan, setting the pace!
The beginning of the course was this odd cut through various open and empty camp sites, around trees, and over a couple of roads.  It really required finding the arrows ahead to make sure you did not miss a turn.  The course then turned into the bridges section.  This was a series of ten or so small wooden bridges w/ ramps up and down, connected by sections of crisscrossing roots.  Some of them were wet and muddy and there was one particularly nasty right turn on the roots that got me every time.  Unlike the pre ride, when the bridges were wet and slick as hell, they were dry and ridding them was not an issue...unless perhaps you were one of the pro riders who tried to pass a slower rider while on the bridges and ended up in the marsh instead.  He said the marsh was surprisingly deep!   There was one other section which required careful navigation and aptly and descriptively called the ridge line. It had some larger rocks to go over and some off camber sections that were getting looser w/ each lap.  Nothing too difficult though, and easily manageable if you didn't try to force your way through.  The trickiest part of this section was that the course then looped back around below the ridge line, tempting you to look at where your competitors were instead of the trail ahead. The rest of the course was a super fast and really smooth single track that wound its way through the park.  The turn were swoopy and bermed and rarely required any touch of the brakes.  You just leaned over and railed them.  Some courses that lack technical features can get boring but this was fun all the way through all 5 laps.

 First lap went smoothly and I tried to keep my pace pretty high.  I did not know if I would be able to keep that pace for the next four laps, but I wanted to make sure I was not turning into carrot for anyone behind me.  The second also went well, but I got caught by a rider in my group and he stayed on my wheel for the next lap. We caught and stayed w/ couple of riders from a different age group (Dan and John for example), but eventually passed them.  

As we started lap 3 and came to the bridge section, I spotted Rich just ahead.  Maybe 30 seconds!  As we cleared the bridges, I tried to bring up the pace on the double track and going up the first climb, but my rear tire was starting to really rub against the chainstay.  "Not again" I thought, "not a repeat of last weeks race!"  Even the guy behind me made a comment that something was rubbing pretty badly.  I pulled over to remove and reinsert the wheel.  I tried to bring it over a bit to the right before tightening the skewer and that worked for the next three miles, but then started getting bad again.  Every time I stood up or if I leaned through a turn too much, that tire would sound like a saw cutting through a log, or in this case, my nice thin carbon chainstay.  I had to pull over again to re-center the wheel. This held for a while again, and I was able to ride w/out too much rubbing as long as I kept my pedal stroke smooth.  I was able to catch back up to the guy who had been trailing me since lap two and passed him on that little climb after the bridge section.  

 I was not too pleased as I knew there was no way I would be able to catch Rich now (not that I would have had before, but now there was NO chance what so ever!).   I had to stop again, but was now getting pretty quick at releasing the skewer, pulling the wheel over the right, and re-tightening.    On the ridgeline, I heard Rich yell at me as he was going by below and knew it would take me at least one minute to get to where he was.  In questioning if I could catch up to him, I suddenly realized I had no idea what lap I was on.  Was this four or was this five?!?  Was this my last lap or did I have one more to go?? Since I was riding by myself, there was no one to ask.  As I came to the last mile of the lap, I ate two gels, just in case I needed to somehow do another lap.   I was very thankful when at the finish line they told me I was done!  

I never caught Rich and came 1 min 30 seconds after him.  Still finished in third place finish and got a free t-shirt out of it.  Hope they repeat this race next year as it was quite fun!   And who knows, maybe I'll have a functional bike by then... 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Massasoit Lung Challenge Race

I dnf'ed!  Fhack!  What else is there to say.   Well I guess I should point out that it was due to a mechanical, not due to lack of legs or lungs.  Though that could have happened too eventually but since I only made it around once, was not able to find out.

I was actually doing well on that first lap and had decided to go out from the start at a higher pace than usual and try to see if I could hang in.  I did.  I was w/ guys I normally loose  at the start and even passing many of them.  I was feeling pretty good to. I was a crazy fast pace (comp said I avg 13.4 mph for that 1 lap).  But right as the lap was about to get to the start/finish area, my rear wheel spun up a stick that somehow knocked off my Polar cadence sensor (did not realize that until I was home and my cadence sensor was not working anymore.  And those damn things are expensive to replace!), and somehow bend my rear wheel so much, it would no longer spin through the chainstays.  I took the wheel off and tried to hit it back into a functionally straight wheel but it was still rubbing too much.  I finished the end of the lap on foot.  Went home quickly, swapped the rear wheel for a straight one, and went for a hill repeat ride.  Better than nothing!