The Waffle House Chronicles...

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sunday Throwdown…

I was so ready for Sunday. The bikes were ready, everything was packed, everything was perfect. I’ve been training pretty hard for me (1400 miles this year, compared to around 700 last year.) The best in my class have moved up so it was time for a changing of the guard. I talked Jess into getting up super early so I could get in a lap before the citizen youth race (and the trail run.) Iola isn’t all that far, 2:10 from our house to the parking lot (with a good 10-15 minute stop.) We get there at about 8:15, I ready the bike, ready myself and go do a lap. They added a couple parts and only eliminated one, the course was a bit longer and tougher but roughly the same. I ended up doing a practice lap in about 27 minutes flat. I did the math and that was faster than my lap pace last year and the lap was longer. Awesome. I was ready. I get done and change out of my bike clothes and go register. I see a bunch of familiar faces and see Shelley. “Did you get my voice mail?” she asks? Nope, why? “This is an expensive race, over 200 bucks.” Did you get a ticket Shelley? 81 in a 65…guh! She got a speeding ticket trying to get to a race 3 hours before instead of 2:45 before. Oh Shelley…she claims she can’t drive slow. Thank god for cruise control! J Anyways, I am all registered, seeing all those faces I haven’t seen since last year (or last month, or last week or last Wednesday in some cases) and getting back to the car to the words “my bike doesn’t shift well” from Jess. Well it is my experience to never mess with a bike on race day. We did get rid of her squeak and I’ll have to teach her how to feather the XTR when it isn’t shifting well. We watched the citizen race and had a good time. Now it is get ready time. My warm-up revealed poor shifting myself, no surprise, SRAM X-Gen front derailleurs are absolutely worthless, it would work better to have no front derailleur and get off and change them by hand. I had finally got it to the point that I thought would work and not have a granny option (not really needed on this course anyways.)

I line up to race. There’s Gosse…and there is Ebben. Didn’t recognize anyone else which is probably a good thing. We lined up second along with the 20-24s. I get the best starting spot and lead out the hole shot. I was first into the first corner. Then some PCW guy flies on the outside. Then Gosse. Then Ebben. Well that was enough for me and I climbed the hill in 4th. I let a couple others go and I think I descended the bowl in 7th. I passed Gosse and the PCW guy on the next hill and was doing well. About 5 of us were alternating spots in about the 5-9 spots for the lap before dropping a couple and getting dropped by the other two. First lap, 25:11. Not bad. I also was feeling strong and gaining momentum. Then up the third big climb of the lap everything started to fall apart…in the drive train. I look down and my middle ring is bent, the one side bent at about a 25 degree angle. Great. So I tried to use only the big ring for a while but the one steep climb was too much and I had to jog up. I got passed by 2 in my age group. Then I got up and passed them back doing the rest of the course in my big ring until the big ring went crappy as well. It looked bent too! Then the chain sucked up into the outside of my chainrings and got stuck. It took me 2-3 minutes to get it fixed. I thought I might be good to go but my chain locked up again about 3 minutes later. I stop. I get off realizing that I already lost a Top 10 finish and wanted to finish. I had a multi-tool so I stop. Danny was there and held my bike while I worked on it. I lost 20 minutes more. I noticed I lost 2 of the four chainring bolts. Not good. My top two rings were bent. My spider was bent, everything was trashed. I took the bolts out but couldn’t get the middle chainring off. I finally was able to bend part of my spider and get the two bolts put back in across from each other. I took the cable out of the front derailleur and rode my granny. That didn’t work well though as it seemed to skip (not sure if my chainline was wrong or what) the rest of the race. I could ride at about 80-90% pressure. I settled in behind a couple women battling for age group and tried to enjoy my third lap. I mainly wanted to get done so I could watch the Elite/Comp races. I finished. 20th place in my age (out of 24.) I estimate my finish to be 5-10th with an outside chance at a Top 3 (I usually have strong third laps, without problems a 25 minute lap would’ve put me in second place.) So that was that I guess. Ebben got third and Gosse got 9th or 10th (results aren’t posted.)

I can’t explain the feeling of a mechanical, especially in the first race. If you blow a race in the middle of the season it is one thing. But I haven’t raced mountain bikes since Chequamagon last year (Kewaskum certainly doesn’t count) so 7-8 months of hard work and training to get a taste of what the season might be, only to get it all taken away by what I feel is a crappy front derailleur. Now I have to figure out a set-up (with gears Shiroma) that I can’t break. Not a great start to the week, that’s for sure. But what can you do? At least I know that my training has improved me, I finished 17th at Iola last year (and my bike worked perfectly) and 20th this year so I just need to keep things in perspective.

Jess got 6th in her age group (actually sprinting around 7th place to take it at the line) so that was good. Her age group is tough as 3 of the top 4 overall (including Jen, of Kelson fame) came from her age. But she will train hard and get up there! Shelley is in the 30 age group now and I believe got 6th also. Joel won the Sport overall on a singlespeed so that was nice and Shiroma got a 6th place finish also without gears.

After finishing I decided I need to live through the glory of others. Fortunately I knew plenty of people in the next race who had the potential to produce lots of glory! Two Pacific riders suited up (Roland on his Giant and Hertz on his Specialized) and a bunch of Chainsmokers (Jerry in Elite and Kelson, Dave and Ryan in Comp.) Hertz and Kelson came in first, battling for age group in Comp. Hertz held the position in a sprint finish. Both did well. I believe Ryan or Dave came in next and then Roland. Then Jerry finished the Elite Race…his best finish ever, 12th overall and won some cash! It was fun to see everyone do so well! Bike races are awesome, lots of great people and great dogs!

The ride home was a daze. I don’t think Jess was happy about her race and I certainly didn’t want to dwell on the what could’ve been of the weekend. I didn’t even feel like stopping at Taco Bell and we drove by. Finally by about Portage I was done sulking and ready to be home. Can’t wait to take apart the bike and take photos of busted parts!

Seeing the pups at home and a little JT Whitneys with Jess’ parents was just what the doctor ordered, and two episodes of Family Guy is always a good thing as well. Too bad it’s Monday morning now…

4 Comments:

  • Quit foolin' yourself: that SRAM thing is fine, you're just too damn strong for mortal bike components.

    Sorry the race didn't go well; you were looking good on the first lap.

    By Anonymous jerry, at 5/08/2006 8:58 AM  

  • what kind of cranks and chainrings were those? maybe you should switch to a 2-9 setup. less to go wrong.

    By Anonymous shiroma, at 5/08/2006 9:45 AM  

  • I am going to go back to my Shimano set-up...I feel there is no other choice as everyone knows how it works and I've had little to no problems ever. I probably should have a 2X9 set-up...with no granny I have to climb fast!

    By Blogger Burrito Eater, at 5/09/2006 2:57 PM  

  • Yes to the 2x9 - if singlespeeders can climb (or run) with a 34x17, you can climb (or run) with a 32x28. No one needs a big cog that's bigger than their smallest chainring, because if you do, it's always going to be faster to get off and sprint.

    By Blogger J.Bro, at 5/09/2006 3:25 PM  

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