Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Escape from Granogue

Granogue mountain bike race
Sunday, May 20, 2007

I’m a bike rider, not really a bike racer. I got into bike racing too late to really be any good at it. Don’t get me wrong…I enjoy racing. I’m competitive and I like to push myself. Racing is a good way to do that.

I try to be a bike racer during ‘cross season, but other than that I just like riding my bike. Most of the time I’m riding my mountain bike. And for quite a while now the bike of choice has been my singlespeed.

I did my one XC mountain bike race for the year on Sunday at Granogue. I chose this race for a few reasons:

1. The Granogue Estate is a magnificent place for a bike race.
2. fatMarc & the DCCofD have a big role in promoting the race. That automatically qualifies it as a top-notch event.
3. The timing fit my schedule...or maybe I made it fit my schedule because of reasons 1 & 2.

The course was a tough one with a lot of climbing and a lot of tricky singletrack. Slick mud and rocks were also also in abundance. The difficult nature of the race made it a test of fitness and bike handling...specifically, bike handling while cross-eyed and swallowing back vomit.

I raced the Sport Singlespeed class running a 32x20 gear on a 29er. That's the gear I ride so that's the gear I would race. Plus, it's the only gear I've got.

I arrived early, took care of registration business, and got on my bike to do a thorough warm-up. Immediately both of my pedals were doing bad things. The pedal bodies sliding off of the spindles, a not ucommon occurence with Crank Brothers Candy pedals after about 6 months of riding. This would not be a good course on which to have just a skinny metal spindle for a pedal. Come to think of it NO course would be good for this!

Fellow killer B 'cross comrade Rob Campbell tried to come to my rescue. He attempted to rebuild the pedals on the spot, but they were toast.

I was freaking out. Luckily Tom McDaniel saved my day by letting me borrow the Egg Beaters off of his Moots. Now I had pedals, but only 10 minutes to warm-up.

I did the short opening climb a couple of times and that was my warm-up. I was just happy to have unbroken pedals so I didn't care.

At the start I thought I was going fast since I was spinning out my gear, but within 10 seconds I went from the front to the back. I was undergeared and/or underlegged for the start.As we made the turn onto the grass Fort James saw me at the back and yelled at me to move up!

I picked off a bunch of guys on the opening climb and then used my larger size to get by a few more skinny guys on the ensuing downhill.

Once onto the singletrack I had to jam on the brakes as many of the riders in front of me had trouble staying on their bikes. The trail was tight and moderately technical. It made for a logjam.

The rest of the first lap I would ride hard for a while and then have to sit behind slower riders on the tight singletrack sections. This was really frustrating, but in a way it was ok because it gave me time to recover. Eventually the traffic thinned out and I was able to ride relatively smoothly the rest of the race.

The front guys had gotten away cleanly during the initial singletrack logjam but I managed to work my way up to finish 5th, my first podium in an cross-country mountain bike race.

My bike was a joy to ride. The 29er wheels soaked up the bumps and tracked amazingly well on the off-camber slippery bits.

I felt ok all race...I never felt great, but never felt terrible either. I'm really happy with how the race went considering that the lack of racing in my legs.

The only bummer for me is that I missed the Beer stop. In my oxygen-deprived condition I never saw it.

All in all it was a fun day at the best bike racing venue on the East Coast.

Sport Singlespeed Podium
photo courtesy of Bill Deputy at

1 comment:

MRussell said...

Nice Job making the podium.