Saturday, June 19, 2010

First Stop On the Summer Race Series

I pinned on my first number of 2010, well didn't really pin it on, more zip tied it to my handlebars, but you get the idea. This memorable zip tying took place at Attitash in Bartlett, NH as the first stop in the Summer Race Series.

This course, despite being held at a ski area, is as flat as they come. In just over 10 miles of racing we climbed well under 200 feet. it is a two mile loop that is flat, twisty, tight, and has plenty of roots and rocks to keep you honest.

The past few years I've raced this on the fully rigid singlespeed, and up until a couple of days before the race that was still the plan. However I had pulled the trigger on a very nice Salsa Big Mama over the winter and seeing how it was the only one of my bikes in the stable that had never been raced I figured I should give her a try.

During my warm up lap I quickly realized that while the Big Mama is about 10 pounds heavier than my Mamasita set up as a SS and running a Black Ops carbon rigid fork, that the weight penalty wasn't going to be an issue on this course. I also realized that I was much less jarred banging through the root and rock sections- so if nothing else I was going to be much more comfortable during the race!

We lined up, Experts starting 10 seconds ahead of Sport and so on, and the race for holeshot was on. I've found that in this race you either have to go all out to be in the first 10 or you might as well hold back just a bit and avoid the inevitable tangles that are created in the first three technical turns.

We quickly settled into a long line of about 20 or so Expert's and I was sitting in about 15th or so. I worked my up a bit on couple of the passing sections and was feeling pretty good. The course is such that your heart rate is never fully pegged as you can only go so fast and still make all the tight turns, but then again it is constant acceleration so that can take it out of you.

One of the sections that makes me the most nervous is a slick bridge that has high speed two way traffic on it. This year they put down some plywood to improve traction, but you hit it from one side at about 18 mph, and it is a down, flat, up bridge- which some people were airing off of quite nicely (not I).

Within three of the five laps the Expert field had strung out and I was racing with three other riders. One was a woman I've known for years and who is a very strong ski racer as well as bike racer. The other was a guy who I always talk to at races but always space on his name. The three of us took turns leading the charge, with lead changes usually taking place on overcooked turns by the lead rider. Eventually I took up the last position in this group and tried to keep them within striking distance for my wicked awesome sprint finish (insert laugh here).

As we headed out on our fifth and final lap I figured I had about a five second gap to cover to Laura and a eight second gap to Mr. Ialwaysforgethisname, and I figured I could close a third of it in the first big ring second, a third in the second big ring section, and then blast by them at the finish line in a burst of speed that would have made Cipo proud. At least that was my game plan.

Now for how it really happened. By the first big ring section I realized I had lost a bit more time. By the second big ring section I realized I had stopped the loss of time, but hadn't started gaining any back- so I decided I would use my masterful handling skills to get back some time in the final twisty section. With that plan in place I went full gas, and I was flying, had someone been out there with a video camera I'm sure they could have sold the footage to one of those freeride movie producers as I was getting it done. That is until I way overcooked a turn and spent the next millisecond flying through the air upside down wondering what I was going to land on and how much it was going to hurt. Amazingly enough I landed on fairly clean ground, bounced my head (lightly and it was nicely protected by my Lazer helmet), pounded my shoulder and then slid to a stop in a manner that didn't even leave me wishing I had shaved my legs. I picked myself up and went back about 15 feet to pick up my bike and get going again.

I don't know about you but after a spill it takes me a minute to get my groove back. But soon I was up to speed and looking to finish strong. I held my Cipo impression back as there wasn't anyone to sprint against- and plus I'm really not all that fast so it might have looked a lot goofier than it did in my head.

The finish line was behind me and it was back out to cool down.

I rode another lap and just enjoyed the flow of the course. The Big Mama was a fun bike to rip around on, and with some race dieting could be a 25lb weekend warrior race bike as well as a kick butt all around fun ride.

After catching up with a few riders I loaded up to head home, enjoying a Hammer Recoverite smoothie for dinner (1/3 cup OJ, 1/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup blueberry yogurt, four ice cubes, and a 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries with two scoops of Recoverite). I was anxious to get home and download the data from the Garmin 705 to see how much faster I went on the Big Mama as opposed to the Mamasita SS last year. I was convinced I was much faster. Well I was faster- averaging 11.6 mph this year vs 10.8 last year, but I guess it confirmed that a SS is often very close in speed. I will say my arms hut much less this year than last!

It was a fun race and looking forward to the next stop, which will be July 15th at Great Glen Trails (home of 24 Hours of Great Glen- a fantastic race in August).

Until then- ride safe!


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