Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Race Series at Attitash

It has been a strange spring season for me as I’ve been recovering from a broken tailbone that had taken me off my bike for a good five weeks. That meant that this year my first race wasn’t Crank the Kanc, but instead the first race of the Red Jersey Summer Race Series.

This year the first stop took place on the Thorne Pond trails at Attitash in Bartlett, NH. A flat, twisty piece of single track that tests your handling and root riding skills. Like most of the Northeast, it had been raining for several days (race day included) so the roots and rocks offered little in the way of traction.

The race started with a mass start of all categories, which is different from how they usually run the race. This meant that when I rolled back in from my warm up lap I found that they were lining everyone up and that I didn’t have time to go back to the car for a pre-race check up on the bike. I knew my tires were running soft so I borrowed a pump from a buddy and put in some air- but the gauge didn’t work so I was doing my best to do an accurate squish test, shooting for 32psi in my Panaracer Rampage tires. Let’s just say I missed that mark, more on that in a minute.

The race began and I quickly move backwards through the pack as my 32x18 that I was running on my Salsa El Mariachi, had me spun out quickly. Once we hit the single track I began to get some of those spots back, and the slight climb on the back of the course gave me a chance to get a few more back. What I was finding was that the air pressure I had put in was a bit more than I had thought, and the roots were really pounding me. Finally I pulled off to let out a bit of air, in the process loosing a few spots that I hoped to get back in the final two laps.

On the third lap I began to hear a clunking sound, that I attributed to the fact that I had left my tool bag on the bike and figured it was my multi-tool banging into the seat post. How wrong I was. A short while later on a step down bridge that you basically aired onto, I found myself on a bike that seemed to be imploding. Some how I didn’t completely wreck and managed to get my feet to the ground and looked back to realize my rear wheel was no longer in the dropouts. This image left me confused for a moment and then I realized I never snugged down my rear wheel after changing the cogs. Rookie mistake that could have been a very costly error. I put the bike back together and chased back trying to catch up to the people who I had by yo-yoing with each time ended up stopping.

By the fourth lap I realized the people I had been chasing had already finished, must have been sport class and I’m guessing I was now taking up the rear of the expert field. Not a great showing by any stretch, but I looked at is I got the best value of any of the racers out there as I paid less per minute of racing then those who went much faster!

Here is the Garmin 705 data from the ride.

In all it was a good start to the season. It felt good to ride hard and chase a bunch of other like minded people through the woods. It also reminded me, yet again, how important it is to have your gear ready and dialed before the gun goes off. You’d think after 20 years of racing I’d have that figured out, but it seems like at least once a year I have to go through this to remind myself- I guess I have it out of the way for 2009!

See you out on the course.

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