Last weekend was the Rangeley XC race up in beautiful Rangeley Maine. I've generally liked this race course in the past but coming one week after the glorious trails up in Presque Isle you would have been hard pressed to find a more unhappy camper after that race was over. Similar to PI, the Rangeley course is located in a xc ski resort but unlike PI, Rangeley used a good deal of the ski trails for the race course. Some of the ski trails were decent but enough of them are old log strewn crappy. And to top things off, the promoter added a couple bits of single track to the finishing loop that were about as un-fun as trails can get. Ugh. Presque Isle really spoiled me. I'm sure when I go back next year (I have to miss the second race of the season there this year) that my perspective will have changed a bit but what would a Racin Rick post be without a bit of whining?
Anyway, onto the race.
After racing the hilly PI race in a 32/18 gear I figured a 32/17 would work better for the Rangeley race since it had much less climbing and a long (1 mile-ish) opening, slightly downhill dirt road section. When I pre-rode the course on the morning of in the 32/17 I was pretty sure it would be good. I was able to ride 99% of the trail at that point and I figured that since I wasn't even warmed up yet that when I blasted through in the race all would be good but just in case, I left the 32/18 on so that I could make a quick, mid-race, change if necessary.
Race time rolled around and we took off. I got the whole shot out of the field and onto the road which was exactly where I wanted to be. If I could keep the gearies with me for a bit, I figured I'd still have them in sight when we got to the woods. Unfortunately, I was soon completely spun out and totally maxing my heart rate so there was nothing I could do as Wheels and KillBill cruised on by me with their silly big rings spinning smoothly. Only one other would pass me before we entered the woods.
Once into the woods I was still feeling good and still have Wheels and KillBill in sight (about 20 seconds up) but once we got out onto the first crappy ski trail section I started to question my gearing choice. I was working way too hard and going nowhere fast. Before long, another single speeder on a much more sensible 32x18 came by me so I grabbed his wheel and hopped for the best.
After ploddingly following Ryan for 1/2 a lap and realizing that not only was I working too hard but I was in no way enjoying myself, I decided to change my gearing. Sure, it would cost me a couple of minutes now but it would save me 2 hours of agony so I figured it was worth it.
After a couple minutes of fiddling and being passed by a few experts I was back in the game and feeling much better. Like the previous week, once I was going again I felt pretty good and fairly quickly picked up all of the places that I lost. Unfortunately, I was still hating the course and soon found my will to ride fast being depleted and I began dreading catching sight of Ryan up ahead because, if I did, I'd never forgive myself for not giving chase. Thankfully for me, I was riding slow so that never happened so I was able to finish alone in a wallow of self pity in 4th place overall.
On a good note, next weekend's race is at the Camden Snow Bowl which, as I've mentioned, is one of my favorite places to ride and while it's not at all single speed friendly with it's merciless 20 minute opening climb it's still a super fun place to ride so I'm looking forward to the beating!