Thursday, April 9, 2009

Catching Up - Part 1

Ok... so where did i leave off?

The Cal-State Rim Nordic race sucked. Big time. I (foolishly) chose to ride 1.75" FRO tires on a sandy, rough course better suited to big volume rubber - or better yet - a dual suspension bike. Crashed whilst attempting to pass two of THE SLOWEST local "pros" in a loose corner. Broke my glasses, scuffed my skinsuit and rode the remainder of the race with my tail between my legs. *sigh*

Still bitter over my piss-poor performance at the Cal-State Rim Nordic event, i decided i'd have my revenge on that course by racing the Rim Nordic series finals two weeks later - this time with something to prove. This time i arrived with high volume tires, wider bars and bibs and a jersey (lest i completely ruin my skinsuit this time). I charged to the front from the gun in a desperate attempt to avoid traffic jams on the mostly singletrack course - knowing fully that i ran the risk of blowing up. But as luck would have it, the getaway sticks were feeling good and i opened a gap - with only local pro Sean Donovan ahead of me. I rode like a "big boy", and managed to keep it rubber side down on every descent; gaining time on the backbreaking climbs. And that was it - i rode'r in after 3 laps of soloing to post the 2nd fastest time of the day, and bring home the first 'W' of my semi-pro career. The race promoter even kicked down a cool $100 for my troubles.

The confidence boost afforded by my Rim Nordic win was just what i needed heading into the NMBS finals in Brian Head, Utah. This race was truly one of a kind. It left me wishing for bigger lungs, better technical descending skills and more free time to spend in rugged backcountry like this.

I heeded the words of my former team manager Dave, "ride conservatively in the first few miles of climbing... and watch the other guys crack half way through." Sure enough, i sagged the first climb, only to spring into action 20 minutes later as everyones proverbial load was blown in the rarefied 10,000' air. And so it went; i battled for a top 5 spot with a handful of other guys, but eventually came unglued just prior the final - and critical - descent down dark hollow. Think: steep, rocky alpine singletrack with an organic, rooty east coast twist. Even the "good lines" were bad, and the hypoxia didn't seem to help the matter. As such, i rode like a 12 year old girl down the root infested descent and ensuing climb, forfeiting several spots in the process. I finished the race to a stiff, cold headwind completely shattered, but relieved to have the NMBS calendar behind me.

Lastly, i rounded out the season by racing the California State Championships in the pro singlespeed division - wearing none other than my official "party outfit". This was arguably one of my worst decisions of the year, although (as usual) it seemed like a great idea at the time.

Here's what i took from my experience:

- riding singlespeeds IS fun
- racing singlespeeds (sans chamois) is TORUTURE.

Stay tuned for more tales...

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