Monday, June 30, 2008

Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em

On Saturday night several other lazy cyclists and myself decided to sign up for the Southeastern Regional Championship pedal-bike race being held at Raccoon Mtn. on Sunday. Despite our lack of preparation we felt the need to defend our home turf. The SERC series is a regional race so it brought out fast men and women from around the southeast, I hoped my home field advantage would garner me a few spots in the standings.

This was the first XC race I have participated in, typically my focus in cycling, if you can call it that, has leaned towards the endurance side of the sport. So going all out for two hours was quite a change from the long duration events done at a more sustainable pace.
Race Recap:
After a series of phone calls between the local lazies to determine when we'd show up at the event, planning to arrive as late as possible to increase our odds of missing the start, we had a brief team meeting before warming up and lining up at the start.

I was off in the single speed class. The first bit was on paved road and I got off the line fast enough to be in first place at the first turn, second place at the second turn and the pattern seemed to continue... I ran out of gear as the road got flat to slightly down hill and lost several more places. When the course turned into the woods and got technical I rounded a corner to a pile up in a technical section. Since I knew the section was there I was commited to a line I thought would be there around the blind corner only to find a bunch of wheels and feet and legs I had no time to slow or change line so I ran into the tire in front of me and had to dismount the bike and subsequently lost a couple of places, I was bummed, had I been in front I may have made up a good gap here.
Back on the bike and chasing back up to the leaders I came off the end of a bridge and my handle bars rotated around in the stem. I rode it like that for a while but finally decided that I'd have to fix it. Lost some more places and started getting swept up by the leaders of the sport class. I was able to bust ass and catch a few more single speeders but the leaders were gone.

TG came across the line bloodied from a botched jump, I wish we had photos of the gore.

So I learned several things that will hopefully help me go faster next time. I was bummed to lose spots due to the pile up and the mechanical but I probably wouldn't have done much better without those mishaps, but maybe less bad.

- make sure your bolts are tight enough on your bike before you race, but not too tight
- if you are really serious, gear accordingly (i.e. if they modify the loop to take out the worst climbing and give you a paved start take off the 20 tooth and put on a 19 tooth freewheel)
- now that you've geared accordingly get out in front of everyone else because most of the racers suck ass at technical riding
- stay out in front because riding a hill behind a geared racer (even if he is the leader in that class) sucks, and despite how much you want to kick him in the forehead off the trail so you can get by it's easier to just pick up your bike run past him and get back on, I think this also helps to demoralize the geared biker as well.
- don't race in the afternoon in the end of June
- preemptive strike against cramps
- plan to have your mechanicals later in the race, in the early parts everyone is amped up, a mechanical failure later in the race seems to create less of a gap to make up

old photo dump: TJIB/ TDUB after Cohutta 100

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