Life on the road gets old, that's for sure. Looking back on my calendar I see that I've been home a grand total of 12 days out of the last 50 days. That's not a good ratio. I just got back from a trip out east which was a change of venue for me in recent times. The weather sucked as it rained most of the time, but I did get to get together with the Large Fella on a bike and family which is always a high-point. Incidentally the Large Fella is rapidly getting less large which I think is awesome, but what are you gonna do when the title no longer fits the man? : )
Prior to that trip I had the good fortune of actually having time in my schedule to ride in the Cable Classic bike race. It was kind of odd since I really haven't been riding my bike much this year, but I figured this was my best shot since I had been out in Fruita for 4 days of riding the week before and that just had to be some semblance of fitness as a result of that trip. right?
This race was a first for me. No, not the first time I raced it, I've been doing it for years, but this was the first time I had ridden this race (or any race in the area) on my own single bike. I've always done it on tandem, so I wasn't really sure how I should approach it. Naturally I decided to approach it in typical bbbb fashion: on a singlespeed with far too large of a gear on it.
My race preparations included looking at the bike for a while, thinking back to the old Cable classic route and then thinking hmmm that race is mostly fire-road, I should gear up. Of course anyone who actually has full use of their memory functions would know the race is mostly singletrack with a couple of fire-roads thrown in there.
So Friday I threw a 44t chainring on, left the 19t rear cog and put on a 22 toother as a backup, just incase I got soft. I figured with all those fireroads I'd want to be over 2:1, of course I forgot that there aren't really any fire-roads and I was riding a 29'er which makes the gears even higher.
Friday night is rained all night. Typical cable classic weather. Saturday morning it was still raining. That didn't bode well for my gearing choice as the mud was going to really slow things down. Oh well, I brought it, might as well give it a go. I lined up at the start, about 1/3 of the way back figuring I wasn't in great shape so I shouldn't start too far up there. Bad mistake. That fire-road I remembered, it's all at the start, so once the gun went off, I spent the next 5 minutes cranking the big gear around people trying to pass before we got in the woods and things slowed down. Well, the woods came too quick and i got stuck in a line moving about 5 mph. That just wasn't working well with the 44-19 gear, I think I was turning about 20 rpm for a while. Basically I had to stand the entire time we were in the woods, which was pretty much the whole time.
About 8 miles in my back was rapidly telling me it wasn't going to put up with this standing much longer, so I decided it was time to switch to the 22t cog in back. I pulled over and Deanwood and Scotty-Rob passed me right away along with about 20 others while I tried to change cogs in the mud. Eventually I got it switched and working and got back on. The gear felt immediately better, but I think all the damage had already been done. My back kept aching the rest of the race and my quads were not far behind. I kept trying to catch up to deanwood and Scott, but I just never could get them in my sites. Then about 15 miles in I realized my back brake wasn't releasing when I pulled the lever. The mud had gotten the better of the cable and the spring tension on the brakes wasn't enough to pull the pads away from the rim. So each time I'd use the rear brake, I 'd have to reach back and pull the brake arms open or it would just keep rubbing. I got pretty good at just using the front brake and kept the back as an option for emergency stopping action.
Slowly I was gaining ground, passing folks. My legs started coming around and I felt ok the last few miles of singletrack. The key was just getting off and running all the hills. I wasn't getting any traction on them in the mud and my "low" gear was still too high for hills, so all around that plan just worked better. Finally we hit the end doubletrack which dumps you onto about 2 miles of railroad grade and eventually the finish. I made it in, a couple places behind Deanwood and Scott, and just infront of WW (who would have been far infront of me had he not missed the start). I crossed the line and quickly found the rest of the Kenwoodies. They were all freezing from standing in the cold waiting for me to finish. I felt pretty comfortable with the clothes I had on, so I gave my rain coat to Stone and some spare gloves to WW and we all headed off on the long road ride back to the start (this is a point to point race).
Putting on the dry clothes I had in the car were by far the highlight of the day. Spent the remainder of the day driving back and picking sand/mud out of my hair. Not a bad day. Maybe I'll get back on my bike someday again soon...