Attempt #2: I think I'll replace the (totally frozen) headset bearings on my janky Top Fuel on Thursday night. Pop the old ones out, put the new ones in, five minute job... unless you "pop" the lower bearing cartridge out by giving it a gentle tap with a screwdriver that breaks its rusted outer layer off, leaving it wedged/fused in your carbon headtube. Then you would have a problem on your hands.
I thought this would be enough to keep me from racing, but I had to make a small effort to fix it on Friday...so I took it to JRA... and ended up walking out of there with a 20-lb Felt 29er "just to try for the weekend" Let's not talk about how much the price was, or how I'm totally going to end up buying it.
(Sidenote: Brian McInnis is a cool dude)
I took my ridiculous demo bike to Harold Parker and discovered that, uh, big wheels aren't magic, and when the going gets GNAR I still like a 26er dualie better. However. Domnarski gnar ain't no Harold Parker gnar, though, so I was still talked into racing this souped-up cross bike on Sunday.
So... bike racing! We had 22 riders in Pro/1 Open at Domnarski, compared to only 8 in elite at the Big Ring Rumpus, which should answer any questions you have about which of these races is the "real" MTB race. I rather famously complained about this course back in the day, but I'll admit it has grown on me. It's like a tiny lit part of me is willing to admit that pedaling hard and even climbing is part of mountain bike racing.
Anyway. Late breakfast, late arrival and I was in full-on reverse holeshot mode. Unfortunately Joshua Wright from Geekhouse got behind/next to me on the first climb and I promptly put him into the non-existent tape and lost the reverse holeshot. Whoops.
Then everyone else rode away from us on the first climb, but it was like WHATEVER MAN. My bike is stupidly light and I am PACING myself. See you dudes on lap two.
Note: not all dudes were seen on lap two. In fact, some of them beat me by five minutes.
When we hit the power line about 2/3rds of the way through lap one, I was shocked/thrilled to see no less than 8 riders in sight on the big climb. Err, I mean, I knew my slow start would pay off. I'm not outta this yet!
So then I rode TOO DAMN HARD for a while and caught onto the back of a group of four just in time for the BRIDGE OF ABSURDITY at the end of the powerline.
Basically, it was a six-inch wide bridge, the first segment of which was floating, that was about 40 feet long, with a giant rock you had to ride over in the middle (before going back onto a 6-inch wide board). Common sense told me not to ride it, but everyone in front of me was trying to ride it and damned if I didn't want to be as rad as them.
As the group reached the far end, someone (Josh Wilcox?) crashed off it, and the 2nd guy in line (Timmy D) ollied off the bridge, into the water, and rode out of it. I was so impressed by this commotion that I promptly stalled on the giant rock, fell off the rock, dumped the bike and landed on my ass in the water. Ta-da!
By the time I put it back together all the dudes I had just chased down were nicely far away from me, and drafting each other as they blitzed down some fast jeep roads.
Then! We got to the gnarly, technical part of the descent and I couldn't close the gap AT ALL because I apparently I am terrible riding 29ers downhill. But it was okay because we were only halfway through the race.
Lap two ended up being super fun because a group of no less than 6 riders developed: Me, Alec Petro, Tim D, Josh Wilcox, Black-and-white kit dude, Jeff Landfried, Noah Tautfest. Actually, there might have been other dudes, too, but let's pretend my memory is perfect. In any case, this is NOT. NORMAL. in the second hour of a mountain bike race. It was fun, but it also hurt, because every time someone went fast, everyone else had to go fast, and someone ALWAYS wanted to go fast.
We started to break up on the climb after the road section and somehow I rode through like half of the group, including Tim. This only served to enrage him (much like it would Wilichoski) and he caught back up soon, in time to tell me that I was an "anorexic son of a bitch."
This is actually the highest praise one cyclist can give another, so I was pretty happy about that at the time. Unfortunately, after the race he clarified that he thinks I'm fat and he said "we need to catch Jeff [Landfried], that anorexic son-of-a-bitch." Which is fair. Jeff is pretty skinny. So skinny. So...beautiful. I wish I looked like that. Sigh.
Uh. Anyway. Turns out my legs had exactly enough gas to get over the top of the super-steep climb at the end of the powerline section, which I managed to clean while only cramping at the very top. I was still riding with Tim at that point... which meant the last ten minutes of the race were going to be some crampy-drafty fun.
But then, Tim dropped/wedged his chain wrong at the base of the last doubletrack climb... and yeah, that just means I have to ride really hard trying to preserve this 10-second gap to the line, doesn't it? CRAP.
I thrashed frantically down the final descent with my quads twinging with each pedal stroke. Luckily this is pretty much status quo for my racing, so I knew what to do: flop your head and shoulders around drunkenly to try to generate the power your quads cannot, and pray for the race to end. And it worked PERFECTLY -- I flew across the line with a nice four-second cushion on Tim, and five seconds on Chris Hamlin (who had flatted long ago and been presumed dead). Cramping to perfection! 9th/22!
So the only bummer is that now I totally have to buy that bike I was riding.
|Frantically trying to finish bottle #1 as I approach the lone feed zone, from Matt Domnarski himself.|