Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the rocks: Bouldergeist!

Southern Classic Series race #3.  San Lee Park, Sanford, NC.  Sunday March 25th, 2012
The previous nights' storms left hail and standing water along the highway and ominous clouds overhead.
I pre-rode the course last weekend with some fast, light tires on my 26" Blue FS.  Right bike.  Wrong tires.
Today I had a lot more knob going on.

We arrive at San Lee park.  Riders pass by us as they complete lap 1.  Most classes will have to do a 2nd lap.
Comments were about 50/50.  Half asked which direction to the start/finish the other half commented on the slickness of the trail.  i.e.: "Kinda slick" or "Very slick"

I notice a trend in the riders as they go by.  All are a bit muddy, most have blood coming from somewhere.  The sun peaks out behind the clouds and creates a warming glow.  "At least it's drying out" I think to myself.

I finish my warm-up (which included riding up the road by a house with a fenced front yard containing about 8 dogs and 1 horse) and right on time the rain comes down.  We give the rain a good chance to soak in then send the riders off by category and age.  I'm in the last (oldest) group of  CAT 1's.  A class of women starts behind us.  I secretly wonder if the 2 minute time delay between our start times is going to be enough for me to stay ahead of them.

And then we're off.
A stupid-steep climb up a paved road.  Like sheep going to slaughter.  When we get to the single track I slot in right behind eventual race winner, Morgan Olson.  Normally this would be good, but he was next-to-last on this occasion.  The trail is soft enough that I can identify everybody's tire by the perfect impression it leaves in the soft surface.

From here on it's pretty much a blur, so this may not be chronological, but a few things stand out:
The off camber sections are difficult to ride in the slick conditions.
I'm not catching anyone, but because of the trails weave around I often catch glimpses of other racers.
When I finally do catch someone they are actually having a harder time than me through the technical rocky section known as "freefall".  This causes me to put a foot down or hike sections I should have otherwise been able to ride.  This causes my cleats and pedals to fill with mud.  This makes it difficult to get clipped in which makes it harder to ride the technical sections.  I think you can see the pattern developing...

To finish lap 1, and to add a bit of blood to the mud, I get crossed up going down a rooty hill and wipe out on a bridge.

The first lap was awful, but the rain had stopped.  I resolve to focus more on working the bike and making time where the trail allows. 
The second lap was also a blur, but a much faster blur.  The trail is a bit grippier and with no one pressuring from behind I'm intent on running down as many racers as I can to redeem myself from such a terrible first lap.  This time I cleared almost all of the horribly rocky sections, although I did try to dismount before one particularly tricky section, couldn't unclip and crashed in a most ridiculous
 manner.  Determined to make up time, I start pushing the pace as I gain confidence in the grip level.

Pushed it too hard.  The rear slides right just enough for the front to go off trail left and directly into a small tree.  I was able to cut the wheel enough to take the full force of the impact with my handlebar and shoulder instead of risking bending a wheel.  This also served to keep me from going over the handlebars by allowing my collarbone to stop my forward progress.  Apparently it was the part of the collarbone where the shoulder belt rubs when traveling by automobile.

I did go over the handlebars at one point, but honestly, I don't even remember which lap that was, and it doesn't really count because I landed on my feet.

At the end of the race, I was happy to have survived and felt pretty good about (most) of my effort on the second lap.  It turns out that, while I didn't have very good day, many people had worse days.  I know because I finished 4th.  They actually wrote me a check!   I think it was my first-ever MTB payday.

I am now 2nd in SCS series points - my reward for perfect attendance.
Off to Tsali next weekend.  It's a combined race with the SERC series and also includes a TT on Saturday.  I've never been to the trails there either.  They are supposed to be super sweet.  This week is a scheduled recovery week, which is exactly what I plan to do.

Final thoughts: I guess "Off Camber Slippery Root-geist" doesn't have the same ring to it.

See you on trails!

1 comment:

  1. Just surviving that race was an accomplishment. Everyone had a rough time, and I think very few people didn't crash.

    I saw the dogs and the horse in the yard too. I wish I would've taken a photo of it. Ridiculous.