Jay Winter Challenge Ice Crit Race Report

This weekend was the Jay Winter Challenge, a race so freaking sick I'm splitting the race report in half. It was billed as a "stage race," but when one stage is a 30-mile MTB race in the snow you kind of know that how you do the 30 will be how you finish overall. So the only goal for the Friday night "ice crit" was to have fun and finish.

Linnea and I were rolling with some insane homemade studded tires we had borrowed. These things had over 400 drywall screws in each. Weighed over 2 pounds each. Cornered on ice so well I could lean it over while pedaling all-out until my pedals hit the ice.

The downside of that kind of traction is obscene rolling resistance when going in the straight line. I'm not sure I can quantify how hard it was to keep the bike going over 15 mph (a reasonable speed given how flat and smooth ice is), but I'm guessing it was about 20% more work than a stock Nokian's studded tire.

And unfortunately for us, the course was heavily biased toward straightaways. I could corner better than everyone, but that didn't make up for having to push 20% more resistance for 30 seconds between each corner. Warming up, I knew that we were in trouble -- until I remember what the goal here was.

Finish. Have fun.

One thing I forgot to mention -- the course was a figure eight. Really. Dan the crazy French Canadian likes to make his events hard, often at the expense of sanity.

Whatever.

So we lined up for the ice crit. It went off fast, like a cross race, and I was immediately hurting turning my 6 pounds of wheel around. I hung in the lead cloud for a lap, passing everyone I could on the inside of corners as they delicately skittered around on their meager studs, and then handing back all those places on the straights.

After one lap (out of 25) the pace slowed significantly, but even at this speed I could tell I was working a lot harder than everyone just to sit in. I knew I would never make 25 laps of this. Instead of bleeding a slow death at the back, I decided to go out in style.

Heading into the sharpest turn, I attacked, sprinting out of the saddle into the turn. The field picked up speed to catch my draft.

Instead of braking, I laid it over and kept pedaling through the turn all out. I'd be afraid to corner on grass this hard. The studs never even began to slip, and I came out of the 180 still sprinting out of the saddle.

Behind me was total bedlam, the first two people who tried to follow my line had crashed which ended up bringing almost the whole field to a stop. I had a monster gap!

Too bad my legs were full of jello and my bike rolled like it had two flat tires. By the end of the straight they were already back on my tail. I railed another corner but I knew I was toast, soon the leaders were streaming past me and it was all I could do to latch onto the tail of the lead group.

After a few more laps of dangling on the straights and coming back on the corners it was time to bid adieu to the real race. We were still looking at 18 laps to go or something and I was ready to be done.

"Having fun" accomplished, it was time to "just finish." And damn, did it hurt. 40 minutes of pedaling a bike that didn't roll, eventually getting lapped twice by the lead group -- it was extremely clear to me that I haven't done any bike workouts since Natz Schmatz. My legs sucked, my attitude sucked, I almost got killed on the stupid crossover. But I finished, which was all that mattered. By the time I put my bike on the car, there were less than 12 hours until the start of the 30 miler.

Comments

Luke S said…
This comment has nothing to do with your post, but rather to do with Fantasy Nordic. It seems like the results for the Women's Sprint in Otepaa have not been included in the results for the last week. I don't know if this helps me or hurts me, but I figured you should be aware.
Colin R said…
Actually the weeks scores DO include the womens sprint, I just forgot to set it as "scored" in the DB so you can't see the results. But rest assured it was scored behind the scenes and your points are correct.

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