Monday, July 12, 2010

The chain devil strikes...

This is actually two race reports.  They both include action by the chain devil.  I was doing the double as a test for cross - where are my legs?  It's been a few months since I raced something under 2 hours

July 10, Hotcycle in Leesburg, VA

Rookie mistakes... I should be done making them, right?  But we left the house without rain gear and were rather damp by the time it stopped raining.  The course was slimy muddy, flat and fast.  A handful of sport women showed up, including Emily from Gripped Racing, who smoked us at Greenbriar and I hoped to hang with.  She had the hole shot but was tentative in the first couple of turns - she recently broke a frame and was on a borrowed ride.  So I passed within the first 1/4 mile and rode like I was being chased.  Soon after I came across Shea, who was DFL in his field fixing a mechanical - I couldn't compute what was happening but saw he had some small parts out... later I figured out that he'd broken a chain and was fixing it with a quicklink.  He passed me later in the lap - looking strong but I could hear Emily back there by about 10 seconds.  We cleared through the slightly more technical section and hit some really flat, super fast trails in the trees.  I put the hammer down and made up some time.... No sign of her by the end of a fast lap 1.

Lap 2 I knew I was losing time in the technical spots, especially as I got into some slower sport riders.  Emily made contact and about 30 seconds later I went for a pass around two guys.  A stick got kicked directly into my drive train... you know where this is going, right?  Emily passed me as I looked despondently at the broken chain and slightly twisted derailleur.  Ugh.  Turns out I could've put the derailleur back and fixed the chain, but I didn't realize the derailleur was still actually in one piece, so I walked it in. :-(  I've been racing a lot and haven't DNF'd in nearly a year.  Bummed to do so while in the lead, actually racing against someone, but that's racing, right?  Shea climbed back up to 22nd in the Sport Men's field.

July 11, D&Q Summer Sizzler in Sewell, NJ

The Sizzler course is "flat" - I don't know how people come up with this - it's true there are no sustained climbs.  But there is no where to rest, few places to feed, and lots of pitchy little stand-and-hope-you-clear-the-uphills-roots sections.  Lots of roots, a few log overs, and a ton of sandy corners on this course. 

The usual MASS suspects were racing with me yesterday, including Caiti who I knew would be tough out there.  I had the hole shot and then crashed early on a slick log over, losing a spot to Caiti... we hung together for a bit - I was gaining on her in the corners, she was gaining on me on those steep little uphills.  She laid it down in a corner, I passed her and we stayed together.  I could see a plan was forming - work together, pushing each other to hold off the field, then race the last 1/2 lap or so against each other for the win.  At least, that was my plan.

But, the chain devil was out this weekend, remember?  In her crash, something got misadjusted in Caiti's drivetrain, so she was shifting with only the front derailleur.  That lasted about 2 miles before a mis-shift coming out of the stream led to a chain laying on the ground.  Bummer.  So now my help was gone and I was MTB time trialing, knowing there were at least 2 others in the field who've beaten me handily in the past.  They were back there... somewhere....

FatMarc was yelling every time I saw him - eat, drink, keep steady.  Useful stuff.  At the end of Lap 2, another Masters' Woman came by me.  I kept her in sight for most of the 3rd lap - trying to keep up or at least stay close...  I thought I saw 2nd place in my race, but the twists in the trail meant I had no idea how far back anyone was.  So I kept pushing.  And hung on for the win!  Hard race, hard course.  Legs hung in there, but there's still some work to do before cross season starts in 9 weeks...

You thought 3 broken chains weren't enough this weekend, eh chain devil?  I hear he also got Susan, who was leading the women's sport masters' race and Dirty Rock, a friend from cross.

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