I was tempted to not do a write up as I felt that the disappointment that I had at my race result (and season so far) would be a big drag and all negative. But I think these write ups help me race and could be cathartic moving forward.
Single-Speed-A-Palooza 2016 was my first A race on my race calendar. So yes I have had some injuries and illness issues that have hampered my training this season so far but who hasn’t. I was finally feeling healthy and strong and put in a lot of work to get here. I decided that even though the course (one lap of 26.6 miles) was muddy due to all the rain we recently got I was going to run the hardest gear that I have ever pedaled- a 34x18 (2 gears harder than last year). So more gear inches should equal more speed on the fire roads and the ability to pedal more on the flats and downhills but is going to hurt bad on the punchy stuff- and if you are feeling a bit tired or your legs are heavy that day, you are going to be forced to use your second gear…walking…
I lined up 3rd row with 100+ of some of my closest Open/Pro friends and right away started to stress about being too far back. The mass start (with another 200 people coming 3 minutes later) is a real cluster f. as the road is pocked with big holes filled with water of who knows what depth. So while I’m trying to move up the field is trying to avoid holes and death. Right away a guy crashes on my right and I just make it by his front wheel. At this point we are at 25-28 mph and I’m picking up spots rubbing tires and elbows and riding dirty.
We hit the water/mud filled double track and I’m feeling good. We end up single file and cruising hard through slimy turns and railing it. And then the pace slows and my group is now stuck behind an MTBNJ rider who is just spinning like a hamster as people are yelling for him to get off the front and he just keeps at it. There are some aggressive moves to overtake us and that means going into the long grass (and who knows what) to make a strong pass. This is probably what I needed to do but the risk of me taking myself out in the first 5 miles was just too high. So I finally got by him and then ran my shoulder into a tree which bounced me off my bike. My remount in the mud sucked (I took some yelling at) and got passed by a strong local singlespeed racer on my left.
We hit the road and I just kept trying to move up, close gaps, and hold wheels- there was some passing back and forth but I picked up some spots but didn’t make the first group- I was relegated to the second group of 5-6. We all rode for a while together and traded spots- I had some tough times on a couple of the hills and had to catch back on but I held my own. As we got into the “climbs” the Finkraft guys in front of me just kept popping off late and running up the steeps and I just wasn’t able to get around them. I made one final last pass to retake the guy who passed me about 20 miles earlier. And I was gone- time trialed it 4 miles to the end.
I gave it my all and put up a whole bunch of PR’s ---and rode to a 21st place finish. The one bright side is that the top 20 were the who’s who of racing on the east coast scene. Lots of big names ahead of you is supposed to make you feel better...
I improved my overall placing by 3 spots, my overall time by 20 minutes and upped my average speed by 1.5mph to 13mph.