Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fat Tire Classic, Winding Trails CT, April 17, 2011: Race Report and other musings

Root 66 race series, Race # 1
Singlespeed Open, 2nd place
My first race for team Cape Cod Mountain Bike Racing
Surly Karate Monkey circa 2004, rigid Salsa steel fork, 34/18 gearing

Took one of the seats out of the 2nd row of the Honda Odyssey and Tim "Young Gun" and Brian "The Natural" (aka the Falcon) piled in with their bikes and settled in for the approximately 2 hour 45 min ride from Cape Cod to Farmington CT on Sunday.  I don't know what kind of taxes people in Farmington pay, but it's worth it - the Winding Trails recreation area is the gold standard for rec areas.   Besides the miles of bike trails, it has 3 sweet hoops courts (one with a low hoop for the kiddies or so we vertically-challenged can dunk), several tennis courts, a plush soccer field and baseball field, water to swim in (presumably).  Place was killer - if you have kids, bring them.  I saw so many dads with their sons and was really missing mine.
Anyway, onto the race.  A quick pre-ride of the first mile or so of the trails to see what we had in store - not too technical, some short steep hills but us Cape Codders are used to those. Course seemed to set up pretty well for singlespeeds, and nothing too techy for the rigid fork. 
It was clear that the best line at the start was the left line, so I lined up with my fellow SS-ers and got to talking and ended up far over to the right.  Der.  Whistle blew and at the top of the first hill I was probably 6 or 7 out of 10.  I took a look at the jerseys in front to see who I should be chasing, then took a minute or so to regulate my heart rate, and then got down to business.  There was a nice colorful jersey leading the pack.  I passed the rest of the jerseys in front of me within the first couple miles and caught glimpses of that colorful jersey here and there, but it was more like a ghost teasing me through the woods, and as the race continued, the ghost disappeared completely.
The singletrack was a thin ribbon of packed mud that flowed well and followed the contours of the rolling terrain.  There were a few logs across the trails, but nothing that you needed to dismount for (unless you're a, well, you know). 
There were also several long runs of fire roads, sprinkled with rooty sections, but they hardly even slowed you down.  There was one awesome steep gravel uphill that was a dream for singlespeeds.  On the 2nd lap I think I passed 5 gearies from an earlier heat on that hill alone.  Towards the end of the 5.1 mile lap there were two areas of deep mud and long muddy puddles - they could be pedaled through, though I got sucked in on the last lap and had to dismount into ankle deep mud.  Very close to the end was a very steep, muddy hill that was not doable on my 34/18, so I had to dismount and push.  After that hill it's a quick and flat run to the lap/finish.
This was my 3rd overall race and 1st SS race.  My two previous races were in the EFTA series.  I like that Root 66 breaks up the Cats into different times of day.  Makes for A LOT less traffic on the course.  Another thing about Root 66, and this is just my impression, but the racers seemed a bit more friendly and supportive. Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with the lack of traffic on the course, but nearly everyone I passed gave a sincere word of encouragement. And the spectators were telling me how far in front the colorful-jersied ghost was -- and I'm pretty sure they were lying that he was "just 30 seconds ahead" to keep me motivated - it really worked, I pushed friggin hard for the whole race.  Oh, and they have nice prizes - I got a medal and a sweet Pedro's brush set that I've already used to brush off the mud caked on the Surly.
In looking at last year's times, I figured 1:16 would win.  So I was very happy to ride 1:15.37.  Mr Colorful Jersey (Tim), a granite block of a guy on a sweet Lynskey with Niner fork, rode (I think) 1:13.30.  That's just flatout fargin fast, and no way I could have caught him.

Side notes:
> On the ride up, we stopped to gas up and Brian went 'round back the station to relieve himself.  As he piddled, a nearby rustle caught his attention and he was amazed to see that a falcon had just taken down a smaller bird and had him pinned to the ground and had his eye pierced at Brian.  To Brian it was a sign not only to zip up, but that his Spring spent telemarking instead of training wouldn't hurt his performance.  The bastard was right, as he finished 3rd in the Cat 2 30-39 geared div.  His time was in the 1:14's.  Awesome.  His nickname on my phone list hereby officially is changing from "The Natural" to "The Falcon."
> With Helena Ophelia joining Team Maguire on or around July 1, Kristy and I decided to expand our hauling capacity and we traded in the Mercedes for a Honda Odyssey.  Trading in the Merc was really sad for us - until we reclined into the captains chairs and played with the power doors and watched Julian running around the back of the Honda.  Yes, our sadness lasted a whole 5 seconds.  And, as a plus, the Odyssey is a bike team hauling dream.  3 bikes, 3 guys, all our gear, no bike rack needed.  Nice ride, quiet, plenty of power.  Now I'm really totally sold (plus we got an awesome deal 'cuz the dealer couldn't stop drooling over the Merc).
> I switched up my diet a bit recently - adhering fairly strictly to Brendan Brazier's Thrive diet. It's nearly totally raw, whole (organic) foods - "one-step nutrition" - so it's simple foods that are less stressful for the body to process.  I've adapted to it surprisingly well.  I've been vegan for a few years anyway, but I had gotten sucked into some processed foods and sugary stuff.  On Thrive, I definitely feel like I've lost some weight, and some fat, but no power. On my training ride this morning, I rode a 2-hill combo that I haven't previously gotten on the SS - it just feels like I have maybe 5% more power - just enough in certain spots.  My complexion is also cleaner than I can ever remember - which will be good in case that modeling job comes through (haha).  For the next race, I might opt for an onboard Gu pack over dates soaked in agave nectar though, as the date acted as a throat plug and I had to regurgitate it.  And I might go back to my pre-ride apple, as nothing I've ever eaten/drank has given me a more noticeable energy boost than a good old fashioned gala apple.  My recovery smoothie was awesome - bananas, dates, hemp protein, flax, greens, almonds, coconut milk all blended up into a delicious mud. I felt great the rest of the day - none of that post-race drag.  Another rider asked if I was drinking sand - I told him ya that's what all us Cape Codders drink.

Thanks for reading.

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