Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ultimat XC Winter Challenge Day 1

This year's Winter Challenge consisted of two stages, a Friday night crit and the Saturday 30 miler.

The toaster all loaded up and ready to leave Bikeman.com's parking lot.

Friday, Steve and I loaded up the toaster and made the trek up to northern Vermont from coastal Maine. After only getting lost once (you can't get there from here apparently) we rolled into Newport at 4:30 pm. The first thing we did was check out the race course for Friday night. The ice crit was held on Memphrenmagog (seriously) Lake in Newport Vermont. Initially conceived as a 1/2 mile x 20 lap race it was changed day of race (because of unsafe ice conditions) to a loop of just under 1/2 mile and 25 laps. Oh, and it would be a figure 8. Upon seeing the course I quickly realized that my 32x17 gearing was going to be waaaaaaayyyyyy too slow. Thankfully, I had a 12t cog that I was using as a spacer on one of my wheelsets so I was able to cobble together a 32x12 which I figured would be just about perfect.

With 2 hours to kill before race time Steve and I decided to stomp over to the bar next door and get some food and drink. A couple of beers later we emerged, kitted up (ever get dressed for a race, outside in 15 degree temps? I hadn't either until Friday night) and headed down to the lake for a warm-up.

The gearing proved to be good and I hammered out my warm-up. Near the end though, while doing a final sprint my chain popped off and I hit the deck and slid across the start/finish line with a nice audience. Good way to start the night! (I would later find that I had a nice bit of road rash on my left hip from the textured ice)

Waiting for the start.
Steve Mitchell photo

Go time!

Steve Mitchell photo

The race started and I quickly found a nice place in the middle of the lead group. My goal for the evening was to sit in (take no wind) for most of the race and then in the last few laps try to make a move and that was exactly how it played out. During the first 18-ish laps we basically cruised around in lazy figure 8's, picked our way around the tricky corners (ever taken corners on ice at speed?) tried not to hit anyone at the 8's crossing and waited for any attacks to happen. I marked a couple of attacks myself to keep anyone from getting clear and kept the group at about 8 or 9 riders. With 5 laps to go, I found myself in good position to make a move on the leader coming out of corner 2. I immediately launched an attack for about 1 1/2 laps but quickly realized that it was nearly impossible to break away so I sat back up and slid back to 3rd wheel. We would now have to rely on the final 200 ft sprint out of the final corner.

Lapping through, notice the ice on the balaclava.

Steve Mitchell photos

Still third wheel going into the final set of corners, I took a wide line to allow for an earlier sprint start. Unfortunately, I started my sprint a tick too early and ended up doing a 90 degree turn right in front of the rest of the lead group. I quickly righted myself and sprinted my ass off narrowly holding onto third place for the evening.

Steve finished up a couple of mintues later a bit demoralized with how his legs felt only to find out later that his front brake had been dragging significantly the whole time!

30 miler report tomorrow (hopefully!)


Jason said...

Nice. If you're doing a race on ice pre event beer is a MUST. Nice job.

rick is! said...

I worried about the wisdom of the choice but it didn't seem to hurt.

Pete said...

Is this the the race put on by Dan? The jay challenge was my first race ever...

rick is! said...

yeah, dan is the masochist behind this and many other evil races. he puts on a good show.

Tom said...

Awesome writeup!

Are there any other photos from the cie crit or event online?

rick is! said...

no other photos online that I know of yet but shoot me an e-mail at chiddong(at)hotmail.com and I can give you the e-mail address for steve mitchell. he has a bunch of photos from the crit but none of the 30 miler.