Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big Bear Race Report and...

It's Tuesday. I got my emails caught up from the weekend, got my 'to do' list together, dropped the kids off and poured myself a hot-ass cup of coffee so I'm ready to talk... Here's the story...

MattyD and I relegated ourselves to driving the City Bikes truck down to the race. It's camping, there's lighting involved so a generator and warm, dry place to change into and out of race clothes while actually standing up was attractive, too. It's the 24 Hours of Big Bear, hosted by the guy who invented the genre, Laird Knight. You want to make sure you represent, which put me at MattyD's house a little earlier than the Friday 10am pickup time we agreed to. We got his stuff in the 'ru for the drive up to Chevy Chase to pick up the truck. We did a few minutes of cleaning then loaded the old girl up for the drive. We picked up some food and got on the road around noon, as planned.

It's 175m to the race venue, the truck has a full tank of gas (35g?) with a 6g jerrycan just in case, because the gas gauge doesn't work. So, we thought the mileage would be above the 7mpg we got, so we almost ran out of gas, which we didn't know until we pumped it full again at the gas station just outside the campground. Plus we ran the generator the whole way to we could listen to the stereo the whole way.

Friday night was relaxed and fun. Once you talk everyone out of gettin ready for the race, you can all relax. Everyone is thinking they are racing in the morning (which they aren't) and really, only one of the four of you is riding before 1pm the next day, but it's just normal pre-race stuff. We were lucky that we had the Gwadz boys and Kent camping next to us. We also had some cool local Bmore boys racing sport next to us. We had decided over email that we would race Expert because there were too many sport teams signed up. MattyD, Jonathan, Alex and I had done 2 TOTAL expert class races EVER in our lives, but we all did REALLY well at the 12hrs of Lodi, placing 1st and 2nd in 3 man sport. So expert seemed like the right thing to do. Not to ruin the story, but we ended up 3rd in Expert so we chose right. We also beat ALL of the sport teams, so we REALLY made the right decision. Pop around here for more race results. That link is our times. I was second so you can see the times. MattyD was 1st, Alex 3rd, Jonathan 4th. We should have been called 'City Bikes Anti-Sandbaggers.' We got 14th place overall, again, huge for us.

The course was rad. You started on a flat section then into a downhill with fun jumps and little gaps. It was all 10-14" wide and dark brown. The trail was SUPER-tacky. There was no slipping on the dirt. The rocks and roots were another story, but I really didn't have any major problems. The course has a few surprises, but the narrow trail has been ridden so that you have to go out of your way to hit stuff that will mess you up. The steep couple of descents are fun and I REALLY railed them, even at night. I felt like I had the perfect setup. Tires, suspension, pressure, fit, gear, food, sleep... I was prepped to do well. And, luckily, I did.

Lap one started out with MattyD ROLLING into the start/finish with a quick time and the day was set. We had a clean transition and I got on the bike and went out too hard. I finally managed to slow myself down after big-ringing the first 5 miles or so. I passed 2 people on the first climb and another 4 throughout the lap. 3 passed me. I was lucky that I calmed myself down because the last 1/4 of the lap is the toughest. I had never ridden the course so I was just trying to hammer and rest, when I had to and when I could. It was early afternoon and I had plenty of time to recover later and I had a team counting on me. I managed to get through the slow part of the course, middle-ringed up the steep climbs after the hike-a-bike, then big-ringed the back part of the course. It's up hill, but not steep and I felt great. 1:19. Solid lap.

My other lap times were 1:17 (6pm lap), 1:27 (nighttime crash lap), 1:24 (6am dawn lap) and 1:20 (pre-noon lap). The only mentionable lap was the night lap. I was ROCKING the downhill at full speed and feeling a little scared but excited. I like me some fast riding. At the bottom of the section, there is a hard right-hander. It's pretty smooth, but the whole section was a little slick around midnite. I was leaning hard into the right turn and the front tire just went left on me. I went down on my right hand and felt it skip over a few rocks. I knew it was going to be a problem but it slipped ahead of me and I fell on my right side, with no real impact. I jumped right up and grabbed the bike, made a joke to somebody hanging out down there and HAMMERED away from the site, knowing that I had time to make up AND I had to get off the bike just in case there was bleeding or something worse. I didn't panic, but I was eager to see what was going on with my hand. The glove got tight so I backed off the pressure on the hand. My lap time wasn't bad but, luckily, I had 4.5hrs before my next lap. It's a good thing we had a 12 mile lap.

Short follow-up: palm bruised, right hand didn't slow me down, I felt great and am really proud of myself for pulling through and feeling good. The ONLY problem I had was my damn shifting.

My first lap, I didn't really notice it. My rear der was a bit off, but I usually just adjust my shifting and move on. I usually don't think about it after I adjust. After lap 2, I realized that I had a problem. Both up AND down shifts required an extra shift each time. You want to downshift a little? Downshift twice, wait for one shift to happen, then upshift once to keep the chain in place. Same for upshifts. It was nuts. I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was, but when I got off the bike after lap 2, I felt like I could deal with it. After the midnite lap, I knew that I made a mistake. The shifting got more inconsistent and I thought about it the WHOLE TIME I was riding. That's bad. I was WAY too tired to work on it after that lap and went right to sleep after trying to stuff a bunch of food down my throat. I woke up feeling goofy and got on my bike to check it out again and just rode it but it was depressing. I got off the bike after lap 4 and was so happy that I was done that I chugged an orange soda and ate a bunch. I put the bike in the stand to figure out what was wrong and I fixed it in about 4 minutes. The ferrule was letting the wire pull through the housing which would compress/decompress with every shift. I was right. I cut both ends of the housing and put it back together and it was fixed. I did some math on our lap times and? Yup, I had another lap coming up. I was actually stoked ot get out there and ride a lap with a fully working bike! The 1:20 says it all. I'm an idiot...

I'm sure I'll remember more stories from the weekend. MattyD, Alex and Jonathan made City Bikes and the Meatwagon a perfect team. No mechanicals, two small crashes, consistent lap times, sharing, caring, funny guys. I was lucky and we had a great time.

Did I mention that it was F'ing freezing? It blew about 25knots most of the time. Oof. I'll be back Laird. Next year, let's forget the 'raffle' at the end of the race and actually give some prizes away to podium finishers...

Pics: MattyD on the left, Kent on the right, pre-run. MattyD (partial) on the left, Kent on the right at the start of the run, start line (MattyD, Kent on right), base camp fleet, my dawn lap, my hand, expert podium (courtesy JGwadz)...


At 11:35 AM, Blogger gwadzilla said...

great race
great report

great race time average (ya bastard)

that is a lot of words

lucky for me I do not mind words

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the way they did prizes. otherwise most of the prizes go to sandbaggers, semi-pros, and categories with 3 teams.

of course, getting shut out in the Vet by the 3 fastest teams might be skewing my opinion.

but, I still sort of like it

and, yep, that course kicked butt!



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