30 June, 2011

It was Another Week!

Apparently I already have a post titled "What a Week..." so my titles aren't very creative!

Flash back to issues at work that surfaced on 20JUN11.  Not to go into detail, but let's just say I will be dealing with this for the next 90 days.

My wife was in Florida last week for a volleyball tournament (Assistant Coach W9), so my support group was essentially nil.  Wednesday I took delivery of my Superfly 100, a very special anniversary gift from the most wonderfal lady in the world.  However,  I was in the midst of a crappy week, and the only way to recover was a "mental health" day.  Think sick day, but for your brain.  This ride was covered in detail on the previous post.

After a good ~30 miles on Thursday, I rested Friday in preparation for my first race as an Expert/Elite.  This was to be at Cannonsburg for the State Games of Michigan.

It felt good to be back on the SS, kind of like an old pair of slippers.  I had gear up for the event, running 33x18T, preparing for a little more climbing than usual.  I had reattached my seat, and slightly over-torqued the clamp to ensure no more issues.

12:30 arrived, and it was time to race.  We (the single-speeders) started after the Elite men, before the women.  The race started and the top guys shot out the front, and I was kind of stuck in a pack of guys that were a bit slower.  I settled in briefly, knowing that 4 laps (~20 miles) was a bit more than I was used to.  Then the pack began to spread out, and I was caught behind a person with little experience racing.  I made the "On your left" call, but apparently it startled him, as he stopped and cut off my move, causing me to bobble and unclip.  I then had to wait again for another spot and pass more aggressively.  There were a couple climbs I had to dismount due to traffic, but is apparently slowed those ahead of me as well.  The rest of the first laps way relatively smooth.  I caught back up with the group, and on the climb near the end of the lap made a move around and pulled into 2nd place.

Lap 2 was uneventful.  I was passed by some geared folks, but was still holding strong in my position.  I was riding well.  However, on the flat after the "big" hill, I dropped my only bottle.  I had to jump off and reclaim it, as I dd not know of another option.  Lost a little time, but holding strong.

Lap 3 and I was begining to suffer.  I was losing power quick, and I could tell.  I took a Gu before this lap, and was waiting for it to kick in.  Meanwhile, about halfway through the course is a vertical-U with a short down, and a steep, loose up.  I made this climb on the second lap, but the third time is not the charm.  About 90% of the way up, my rear tire slid out and I fell over.  In one motion, without letting go of the bars with either hand, I rolled over, jumped up and ran to the top and remounted.  Imagine this in one action, with no stopping or pausing at any point.  Apparently there is some video footage, which I will link to when available.

Final lap, and I am ready to be done.  I have little power left, even on the gradual climb at the beginning.  I have been riding in and out of geared riders, but no SSers for a while.  I have no idea how many were in front.  Time to dig deep.  I tried to focus on the anger I had inside from the previous week, but somehow couldn't tap into those reserves.  It was just me and the bike.  I think I was passed by another SSers shortly before the skills area, and he quickly pulled a gap on me.  I dug deep on the last climb and closed the gap, but I was spent at the top.  He pulled away on the flats, leaving me to flounder.

Then to add insult to injury, my seat came off again!  This was ~1 mile to the finish, mostly downhill.  Knowing the drill by this point, I stopped, grabbed my saddle and stuffed it into my jersey pocket.  The rest of the clamp is probably still out there, and I could not care less.  I finished the race, dropped my bike and chunked the saddle into the ground. It took some self control to just not heave the whole bike into the finish line stream.
[NOTE: The seatpost has been replaced by my old stand-by, however I have not contacted Woodman yet to get their response]

The results were no quite so bad.  I ended up finishing in 3rd place.  Not bad, a podium in my first Expert race.  However, this was due to the fact that 2 other singlespeed racers went out for a 5th lap like the other Elites.  So in reality, I finished 5th, which was still better than my Sport finish last year here.

After the awards, it was time for some Sonic, and some repair work for the Pontiac Lake XC race the following day.  Swap the seatpost, put the 16T back on and I am ready to go.

Get out to Pontiac, and I was flying solo.  13:00 start, so I was in no rush.  I ended up meeting with Team Big Kahuna and hanging with them on this warm Summer day.  I got in some spinning to warm up, and could tell right away my legs weren't all there.  Instead of 4x5 mile laps, today would be 2x10 miles.  I don't know if that is better or worse.

At the start, the field wasn't quite so deep, just 4 of us riders.  My plan was to hang with the leaders and make something happen on lap 2 if I could.  At the start I hung back into position 4, with the first-timer taking the lead through the fields.  Once we were onto the dirt, this fellow was clearly out of his element and was quickly left behind (for an eventual DNF).  SO I was now in second, just pacing behind the Tree Farmer when we reached "@ mile hill".  This would be the last time I saw him as he was geared poorly, and had to hoof it up the hill.  All alone again, I pedal through the woods as race leader until the gearies caught up.

However, this day my bike wasn't feeling right.  There was much more creaking than normal, the chain sounded different, and I think I was developing some headset play.  I decided not to push the pace, but ride along carefully as not to damage anything.  Then during a climb about 75% of the way through the first lap, I was pushing hard and something locked up.  The dropouts slipped and my wheel was cock-eyed.  I moved over to the side of the trail, and began to readjust my drivetrain.  I didn't get it perfect, but it was rideable and I was not caught by either of the other one-gear crew.

Lap 2 was OK, I just pedaled along, letting anybody pass that wanted to.  I did not have any mechanical issues, but oddly enough this lap was a full minute slower than the first one (and 4 minutes slower than my TT lap).  I finished with being challenged by the other riders and successfully widened my lead in the Tailwind series.

However the Big Kahuna himself crashed on his second lap, so I waited around for him to cross the line.  He was kind of banged up, but still walking/  Results were particularly snappy this time.  I helped the team clean up camp, then it was back to Sonic and headed home.

The trip was annoying, as when I got on the highway (I-96) at Howell, traffic was dumber than usual.  Speed hit 80, followed by complete stops.  Where the hell was all this traffic coming from, and why?  As I approached Okemos I realized, these were all lemmings headed to East Lansing for the U2 concert, and were following the same set of Mapquest directions.  An extra 40 minutes added to my trip, but after exit 110 it was smooth sailing.

On to this weekend, and another race, this time the Stony Marathon.  I won the Brighton Stage race, so the double points do nothing for me.  I am not sure which bike I will be riding that day, it depends on when the SS is done.  Then up to Boyne!

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