Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mount Snow XC Race Report

Alright, let's continue this post-a-day trend by finishing up the weekend. The astute reader (yeah, both of you) will remember that all but one of my races went badly this past weekend so you should know what's coming. For the non-astute reader, this race report is not going to end with a podium... just so you know.

It started raining at 5pm and kept raining off and on until morning. This is the kind of weather that makes some courses get technical (in a good way), but since Mt Snow starts out as "borderline rideable" this makes it get technical, in a bad way. Hope you like pushing your bike uphill.

To compound the difficulty experts were riding four laps, even though it took me over 2 hours to ride 3 laps last year. But that's ok because they took out one short section of singletrack, so laps should be way shorter! So I have no idea why there's already 20 posts on the Root 66 Message Board talking about how the course was too hard and how Mt Snow needs to build some trails that don't go straight up the fall line... don't you guys like hike-a-bike races??

Despite the extreme stupidity/difficulty we had a strong field of 20 suckers lined up and ready to rock at noon. Cary Fridrich took advantage of his newly-upgraded expert credibility to make fun of my tiny little front tire, and I thought to myself "that's BS, my tire is pro." (Foreshadowing!)

I did my best to get the reverse holeshot as we went up the granny ring start climb, but you can only go so slow without tipping over so I got ahead of a few people. For unknown reasons there was a large crowd of people hanging out watch us ride 3 mph so that probably helped me go faster, too. At the top we skipped the old singletrack section and came barreling down some fire road instead.

Now that I'm a Super D veteran I was really to lay the smack down on fools so I put it in the big ring and got crankin', quickly passing two guys who were content to coast at 25 mph. Not me though, I was flying, wheelie-dropping water bars faster and faster as I picked up speed, starting to notice that I'm really going a bit fast here... I got bounced funny by one water bar, oh crap now I don't have time to get recentered to jump the next one... try to roll through and absorb it...

I crushed the water bar with my front wheel at well over 30mph, there was a loud PING as my valve stem ripped off (yeah I'm still running tubes, don't ask), and then the loud HISSSSSS as my front wheel went to 0 psi in a few seconds. Of course I had bigger problems to worry about since I got bounced into a super nose-wheelie when my back wheel hit the water bar, so while my tire was deflating I was staring straight down at it, wondering if I was about to eat gravel.

So after making up 10 seconds descending I got to spend 5 minutes fixing a flat, that's not really a good exchange. I didn't even have a CO2 with me so I got to pump like a madman for a while, but you know how minipumps are, so my mad pumping did nothing except leak air. I had to slow down and pump delicately, then it worked, of course by now the singlespeed and 30+ fields are past and tho 40+ guys are near.

At this point I realized that this stupid 4 lap deal was in my favor since I was gonna need 3 hours to catch up. So I got my race back on and tried to ride steady, of course climbing at Mt Snow is anything but steady and no matter how hard I grannied up my gearing it still hurt a lot. The 40+ guys came by and I hung with them for a little while, I even pulled back the occasional 30+ straggler so I knew I was making time.

After several months of climbing we got to the descent and I became immediately regretful that I hadn't preridden it, it was a gnarly and muddy mess and I spent a lot of time going down the wrong line and stopping dead as I rode off the trail at the bottom. I did come across a shell-shocked Canadian guy from my category who agreed "this was stupid," and I was happy to transfer the title of DFL to him.

As I came through the start/finish I could see the guys with functioning legs and bikes (Tim, Noah, Ben, Sean, etc) finishing the north loop so it looked like I was holding steady about five minutes behind them, which was something I could live with. I headed up the super steep holeshot climb and discovered a brand new world of hurt.

See, there were like 5 girls aged 6-10 out there cheering with their parents and all the other people that have condos on that hill, and these girls were doing this dance-and-cheer singing "shake, shake, shake your spandex" over and over. Meanwhile my Garmin says I'm going 2.4 miles per hour, I'm doing the granny-ring pedal-bob where you wheelie a bit every stroke, this climb takes over a minute and MY GOD THEY'RE STILL SINGING. I told them they were SICK, they laughed along with their parents, but I was serious, man, little girls shouldn't enjoy my suffering that much, I know I don't. It was good motivation to stay on the bike and get the hell away from them, so maybe I shouldn't complain that much.

Lap two played out a like lap one, I rode my own race and started gradually chewing through the back of my field. Every time I passed someone I had to check their number to see their category so people probably thought I was giving them the Lance stare as I "dusted" them at 4 mph, sorry guys. Anyway I did pick up enough places to know that I was nearing the top 10, which is good since I needed the damn points and series leader Tim was leading the race.

The second time down the descent was way better than before, almost like I remembered the dumb places I rode and avoided them. It's an obscenely rooty and rocky downhill with multiple you-might-endo-here drops, never mind all the normal ways to crash. Luckily I learned to mountain bike when I was kid, back before I knew that crashing can blow open your knee, so when I let the bike run and swallow my fear things work out surprisingly well. I know this because I picked off some more guys on the way down, including Cary at the bottom.

We came through for lap three and he blew me away climbing, making me even more surprised that I was somehow turning faster laps than him. Once again Tim, Noah and Ben were finishing the north loop so I was holding the gap but not closing it. Good thing we have two laps left, hooray!

I was starting to feel bonky, I'm never eating cereal again, all that milk fills you up but it's a lie. Uber-feeder Gonzo gave me a granola bar but it was dry and hard to eat, I also scored a dropped Gu that I found on the trail, so I was throwing all kinds of stuff down the hatch in my efforts to keep the fire going. Despite all this Cary dropped me, out of sight, as we climbed on lap three.

I couldn't tell if I was getting delirious or something, but my back end felt squishy... well it's a dualie so it should be squishy, I stopped to check the pressure, hmm, it feels ok. Five minutes later I swear it's getting squishy, check again, ahhh crap it is going soft. I busted the pump out to see how bad it was, ten minutes later it's getting soft again. So I'm halfway up the climb and I have to pump my tire up every ten minutes, I already used my tube so there's no other choice, plus if I descend hard on it I'll probably flat it all the way... oh wait a minute, there is another choice, I can point my bike down this ski trail and drop the hell out of this stupid race.

So I did.

Of course as soon as I got down to the bottom I felt like a lame quitter, probably because I was, if I was tougher or stupider I could have just kept riding pumping and riding for another hour and half to finish.

As for the points chase, well the series leader won and I scored a big fat zero, so the "race-till-he-DNFs" strategy has officially turned on me and now I'm pretty cooked for the overall. Not that I would deserve it anyway, he's faster than me. Now I have three weeks off until nationals, three weeks to chew on a DNF sucks, luckily I'm going down to the Dover TT tomorrow night to replace that DNF aftertaste with a wow-I'm-not-faster-than-May one. At least that will be blog post #5 of the week, my fingers are in better shape than my legs by now.


Man, I just reread this and it's a comma-fueled stream of consciousness, I guess that's what I get for reading a Thom P report just before writing. Not that that's a bad thing.

3 comments:

Cathy 7/01/2008 5:59 PM  

I heard about the not-so-fun, vomit-inducing race ;). Have to say I'm pretty glad I couldn't make it for this one. Good for you for doing as well as you did though. It will be good prep for Nats.

Hill Junkie 7/02/2008 2:18 PM  

I must say, the mountain bikers are posting better reports than the roadies these days. The Mt Snow NORBA Nationals in 1999 was my first ever bike race. I watched some guy I barely heard of named Lance Armstrong go head to head with Tinker Juarez the day before my race. Then it rained the whole night into my race. The course was already slimy before the rain came. I raced beginner and got my butt handed to me. Never saw so many crashes in one race before. On the descent a guy I was passing endo'd and he left a muddy heel print on my bicept. Another went over in a mud bog and nearly submersed. That was definitely the toughest course I ever raced. I came back a year later with similar conditions in sport and took a podium spot. Haven't been back since.

megA 7/03/2008 8:31 PM  

pumping delicately??????

did you really write that?

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