Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 Sugarloaf Fat Tire Race

Well, that didn't go as planned.  I've been looking forward to the Sugarloaf fat bike race for a while now and felt that I was in reasonably good shape leading up to the race.  The weather had thrown us all a curve ball with lots of recent snow so outdoor riding had been in short supply but I supplemented what I could get with some quality trainer time.  Trainer time ≠ ride time but it would have to suffice.

As race day approached, the venue got a bunch of fresh snow so they frantically packed and re-packed the single track.  thankfully, the vast majority of the race would be on groomed xc ski trails so hopefully non-prime single track would be ok. 

Race day.  I got to the venue two hours early so that I could pick up my stuff and get a loop in on the course only to find that they weren't allowing pre-riding.  Not even on the xc ski trails!  I get that they were trying to save the single track for the race but they should definitely open a section of the groomers so riders can warm up without risking riding on the area roads in the winter.  hopefully that will change for next season.

It was cold, with temps just about zero at the start, so I opted to rock my new Stio gear for the race instead of my standard 12 year old Castelli fleece jersey.  Warm and dapper!

Starting to line up.  Looking stylie in my Stio Second Light Alpha
Race start, I got a good start from the front row, nabbing the hole shot but quickly relinquishing it to my buddy Warren for second on the first short climb.  No sense burning too many matches this early. 
race start video

Grabbing the hole shot now down to my Stio Eddie Check Shirt

We made our way through the first single track section and it seemed to hold up pretty well but showed signs of softness in some of the corners.  Back out onto the xc stuff and we were joined by Brian and Brett.  The four of us rode together until the first long climb when Brian and Brett put a bit of a gap on us.  Warren went ahead of me on the next s.t. section and we quickly brought Brian and Brett back so we were four again.  Unfortunately, I started to notice some softness in my rear tubeless tire.  Sure enough, I look down and I'm now almost flat but the bead was still holding.  I was carrying two CO2's so I decided to gamble and air the tire back up and see if the Stans would fix whatever the issue was.  So I stopped, futzed around with my inflater (nothing goes as quick in the winter...) dumped a whole 40g canister into it and jumped back on my bike losing somewhere around 2 minutes on the leaders. 

Shortly after the flat.  the chase begins!
I frantically chased for the rest of the first lap and the first half of lap two, working back up to 4th place when I noticed my tire going flat again.  frig!  It was tube time and end of all hope time.  But, but, but, this shit builds character right?  I figured it would be good practice for this summer's 100k races when a flat isn't necessarily the end of your race so I got about changing it. 

No mans land.
The good news is that I still had one CO2 canister, the bad news is that only half filled my 4.8" tire so it took me an ass ton of frantic hand pumping to get the tire to a manageable pressure wasting around 10 more minutes as I watched half of the long course racers pass me by. 

Gasping for air

With the fix finally done, I hopped back on the bike and chased and chased and chased.  I made decent time but only managed to claw my way back to 7th.  A disappointing finish but pretty good given the circumstances. 


 There's still two more races in the Maine winter series so I have a couple more chances to represent my team and Kona Wo well.