Monday, October 20, 2014

Gordon Barker No Brakes Race Report and the Period at the End of the Sentence

After a lost race season, I decided to suit up for Sea Sports at the Gordon Barker No Brakes Race at Stratham Hill Park in Stratham, NH.  My local teammates have been kicking my ass lately, so I figured I’d let 50 other people have that pleasure. I raced in the Expert 18+ field.

The race course was really sweet, lots of bench-cut single track, a few steep climbs, and tons of really nice volunteers.  Seems Stratham has a really nice community, not unlike my little village in Sandwich. Bravo!

I’m not sure why I decided to do this race. I guess I wanted to test myself, to feel the rush of racing again, to feel like I wasn’t useless. But now that I feel like I’m maybe/actually/finally feeling “normal” again, I guess I was hoping I could look back and give the Year of Lyme’s the big middle finger. 

I planned on riding my Cannondale (geared hardtail) but I cut the tire this week and couldn’t get the old tires I had lying around to keep air (tubeless) on Saturday, so I decided to just race the Misfit single speed. 

I put the climby 32/20 gear on, the race being in NH and all. Had the rigid Salsa steel fork on the front. I don’t think I could’ve picked a worse set up to race at Stratham Hill.

Strava says there was about 850’+ of climbing per each of the two laps, but it felt like maybe 200’. If that.  I didn’t expect to see any Wilichoskis or Crossleys during the race, but I also didn’t expect to be spit out the back so quickly.

The start was flat. Flat road, flat dirt road, flat double track.  Me and another SSer from NEMBA RACING chatted at the back as we watched the entire field disappear into the future in the first 30 seconds. 

Once we got into the single track, I started to pick up places. But the 32/20 was so spinny that I just couldn’t get a good flow going, and the first real climb didn’t come for about 2 miles. And while the course was not technical, there were enough little roots and rocks that the rigid was constantly popping me up because I was spinning so much. Nonetheless, I relaxed and picked up a few spots here and there, mainly on the climby parts. As usual, I felt better in 2nd half of race, and made some more passes to end up 26th out of 50 or so.

I think I was 2nd out of 3 single speeders. I came close to the SS leader at one point (thanks in part to a pull from another NEMBA Racer -- thanks!), but he was stronger and he crept away.  He might’ve been running a bigger gear, 32/18 I’m guessing, and had a fork.

So that’s that.  My race season lasted 1 hour and 42 minutes.  Now looking forward to mellow rides, more trail running (my new obsession), lots of stretching and weights, losing about 12 more lbs, some rest … and then cranking up the training early in 2015 in prep for next year’s race season. Hopefully this Gordon Barker race was the period at the end of my Lyme’s sentence. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for reading.

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