Monday, October 6, 2008

My Birthday and the H2H ChainStrecher

Last year the ChainStrecher greeted me with 28 miles of 85 degree, sunny, dry singletrack bliss that is blue mountain in Peekskill. I chased a semi pro upgrade seeking Christopher Michaels around for 3 laps, consumed 6 bottles and torched over 3000 calories. the result was 2nd place and me not being able to move for a few hours after.

This year the race was a bit different. Since my upgrade to semipro I hadn't had much luck since the Darkhorse 40 in August. I was hoping to end my season on a high note and was looking forward to the race, admittedly though I have been feeling a bit burnt on the season. Lauren and I loaded up the Jeep and headed to Brewster for some birthday/ racing action. I turned a seemingly ancient 25 yrs old. All my co workers laugh at me as many of them were getting out of college when I was born... regardless this is the first birthday I have not actually looked forward to. Saturday started with a lap around the course with Greg. The course is technical with ~1300 ft of climbing per 8.5 mile lap. Conditions were dry and my bike (tires and suspension) were humming. I felt pretty good and headed to The Capitan Lawrence Brewery for some... ummm carbo loading... yeah. Then with my sister, Lauren and Greg we went to Lazy Boy in WP for some more... hydration. In all seriousness I took it easy on the beer as I knew the more I had the more tomorrow was going to hurt.

I awoke Sunday morning to rain... wait what??? the weather channel had said there was a 0% change of rain. oops. My mud tires... even my full knobby tires were all back in PA... oops. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. When I arrived at the venue the parking lot was a mud bog... not a good sign. I unpacked, got my number and set off for some preride... the rain had long stopped but the damage was already done, the singletrack was slick, snotty peanut butter caked with mud. I usually run two Nobby Nics in conditions like this, or at least one up front... nope... 2 racing raplh dry conditions tires were all I had. I lowered down from my normal tire pressure and hoped to find a little traction. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't fun, I had to over plan and carefully brake into every corner. The roots were ugly.


I arrived on the line and waited for the gun. Somehow I managed to ride 3rd wheel into the woods which was way better that I had expected considering my start position on the grid. I hit the singletrack in 5th with Scott from Bethel right behind me. Scott went around eventually and was holding a 10 to 15 second lead on me. about 5 miles into the first lap the fun began... I lost concentration for a second and missed a rock or something in the trail, I flew over the bars and landed on my knees and rolled to my left side. Luckily the bike stayed down and didn't land on top of me. I picked all my stuff up from the impromptu yard sale I had just set up only to find my 99 gram twig of a stem had rotated 45 degrees. I busted out my multi tool and proceeded to drop the wrench the course of 5 times while trying to undo and retighten the stem bolts... while I'm doing this a bee stings me. To add insult to that 2 riders fly by... I remove my fogged up glasses and place them in my pocket, I remount and ride 50 feet before a tree branch whacks my left eye and slides my contact up into my eyelid. Crap I cant see... stop, remove glove, poke around my eye and find folded up contact, replace it and try to get going... I see a rock about 20 feet in front of me I know I wont be able to clear without and momentum, I pick up my bike and run at it, I slip on the wet dirt/rock and land on my already bleeding knees. I do my best to calm down and start riding smooth. I catch the 2 riders that passed me within 2 miles. I go by them and start to try and regain some lost time. Lauren delivered a feed and Lap two went on without any drama.


By the time I hit the final lap, I was pretty tired. Lauren delivered another prefect bottle/ enervite handoff and told me I had 2:30 to make up to catch Scott... I bobbled up some singletrack while trying to ride above the limits of both my tired body and slick tires. I settled back down and rode as smooth as I could. Rounding a turn with maybe 4 miles to go I see Scott standing on the side of the trail, He said he took a fall and his neck was done, he was thinking about walking out. I urged him to ride out with me and assured him I wasn't going very fast. Scott and I rode in tandem for a few miles until I approached a rock section of the trail with two large roots roughly 5 feet apart crossing the whole width. I had cleared this section on the second lap and tried the same line. I didn't clear the second root with my front wheel and quickly went over the bars landing directly on my kneecaps. I then watched in horror as my bike flew through the air only to land directly on my beloved Becker carbon saddle... then slamming to rest on the seat stay. I checked it promptly for cracks ignoring my now pink and swollen knees... I remounted and continued to ride with Scott out of the woods. The next 3 miles were very painful and I really don't want to think about them. With about a mile to go we separated and I got a small gap. Fueled by the promise of beer and food at the line I drove it to the finish for a 5th place overall. I'm pleased with the result and it was nice to be able to ride some awesome singletrack with I bike I am finally learning to handle.

1 comment:

Chris said...

nicely done, i wish i could have been there.