Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No. 1 In The Books

It seems like forever since I last threw a leg over my mountain bike to race (8 months actually) and it was high freakin time to throw down.  Anybody who comes here regularly knows that I was having an internal (ok, not so internal) debate about which race to do over the weekend.  Do I do the local race that MadMike puts on that is sure to be fun but is likely to have a low turnout or drive to hell and back (RI) for the Glocester Grind?  In the end, I opted for the family friendly local race.  The Maine Mayhem course is tight and technical.  Over the years Mike has been able to work somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 miles of sweet singletrack into an area the size of your local Wal Mart's parking lot.  It's a great venue for spectators since if you hang in one particular spot you can see racers pass five times on each lap. 

The turnout, as expected, was low with only a handful of experts on the line.  My main competitor for the day would be Mike Roy, a local bud of mine who knows the trails well and has been getting tons of hard road miles in (at least compared to me). 

rockin the new kit
There was a bit of confusion in the start chute with Mike and I going down a short dead end (where the race went last year) but we were quickly back on track and entered the woods 1 & 2.  Mike was drilling it from the start and I quickly lost his wheel as we headed through the first half of the course.  I was trying not to panic but I couldn't help some negative thoughts from creeping into my head.  Thoughts like, "I haven't riden enough for this" or "shit, I don't like to hurt like I used to"...Those thoughts continued through my head until Mike had opened about a 20 second lead by the halfway point of lap one.  This was where I passed my family for the first time since the start and the largeish group of people put a bee in my bonnet and I set out to pull Mike in (maybe my legs were warming up finally). 

Mike leading the charge

The next time we passed the fam (5-ish minutes later) I had reeled Mike in and was dangling just off his back wheel.  He seemed to be a bit faster on the first part of the course which is a bit tighter and I seemed to be faster on the faster second half of the course (maybe that's a 26" vs. 29" thing).  We finished up lap one exactly as we had started it with Mike in first and me right behind.

B cheering me on when she wasn't paying more attention to the dog that was there...

Shortly into lap two, Mike asked if I wanted to lead for a bit.  I wasn't sure if Mike was gassed and looking to take it a bit easy or if he wanted to see what lines I was using or if he was being just plain nice (this IS racing isn't it???).  The truth was, I wasn't sure if I could ride any faster than Mike's pace but if you're leading you can take advantage of your competitor's mistakes on this course so I accepted his gracious offer and went about trying to shake him from my wheel.

It wasn't long before I was convinced that Mike had let me pass so that he could figure out my weaknesses on the course because he was sticking to me like glue.  Finally, 2/3's of the way into lap two (of four) I heard the tell tale sound of either a mechanical or riding mishap happen behind me so I wasted no time and drilled it as hard as I could (beyond a sustainable pace) for a few minutes to try to open up a reasonable gap.  Just enough that it MIGHT make it hard for Mike to muster the energy to give chase. 

hitting the berm at speed is super fun
I opened up a gap of somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds and just tried to maintain a fast but reasonable pace.  One fast enough that Mike wouldn't reel me in but conservative enough that I didn't bust my face on the many, many nasty, off camber, rooty, rocky, muddy turns.  One fall would mean that Mike was back with me so that wasn't an option.

When lap four finally rolled around I had what I figured was a good enough lead to win if I didn't do anything stupid and if my drivetrain held together.  The combination of mud and a shit ton of pine needles had made my drivetrain sound like I was grinding granite into pumice.  Things seemed to be working fine but the noise was horrific and unnerving.  Thankfully, things held together though and I rolled across the line in first and claimed my $60 prize (6x the measly $10 race fee!) for the day. 


I TOWER over my competition (or at least it looks that way in this picture)

Single chainring jambed completely full of muddy pine needles
Next up Weeping Willow.



13 comments:

Dan said...

Seems like pretty much the same conditions as the Grind just, minus the 3+ hours in a car. And you wouldn't have to worry about any of those drivetrain issues if you switched back to racing SS. Just sayin.

rick is! said...

I'm not man enough to race single anymore...

Alby King said...

Not man enough to be single either. (Snicker)

Good job and all - but what happened to stepping up to Elite this year? I know some guys who will be very upset.

rick is! said...

need to toe the water in at least one race first. If I beat everybody by 15 minutes, I'll consider it...

taint exactly been riding a lot ya know.

Alby King said...

I see.

I'm thinking of going another lap to gauge stuff. If I feel good.

rick is! said...

oh, and I'm coming down with a dude who can slay me and he's planning on doing expert as well. be afraid. be very afraid.

Alby King said...

Done.

I'm always afraid.

rick is! said...

see, now you're making me feel bad and I'm wondering if I should move up even though I know I'm not ready. are you happy now???

Alby King said...

a little.. but now *I* feel bad. Let's hug it all out on Sunday.

rick is! said...

hmmm, be sure to bring the wife.

Miff said...

Awesome stuff. Glad someone is racing to write race reports, since well I don't do that lately...;-) 1st place....nice work Sir. 26 er vs 29 er thing....always going on!
Miff

Jason said...

Nice going Rick!

rick is! said...

thanks man. real test is this weekend though.