Monday, November 24, 2008

Think Pink/650B Race Testing

The Gunnar-Think Pink single-speed bike was blindly selected for a mountain bike race course I knew nothing about. I kind of decided to do this race at the last minute and was a tad late leaving for the 140+ mile journey to the course. I arrived with 1/2-hour to spare, which means I had to register, dress, and frantically change the rear cog on the bike after hearing and seeing the course was essentially flat and twisty (aka fast and ideal for the SS). Mission #1 was complete as I rode up to the starting line within about a minute of the start. Mission #2 was to start cold without any warmup and ride fast on a course I was unfamiliar with since I did not preride it (both of these issues are not recommended practices if you want to be competitive). I quickly studied my competition at the start line and picked out 2-guys that would be the fastest and therefore good to be behind going into the single-track...that was my plan...
From 20081027

Ready, set, go...CRASH, stop...Go again. That's how the expert race started with 2 guys getting tangled up about 25-meters from the start who then blocked the entire back field while they untangled (it was rather comical and we were all laughing about it, including the 2 that crashed). However, it was not so funny that a nice sized group were off the front and completely unaware of the crash behind them. Needless to say by the time I got around the crash there was a huge (and I mean HUGE) gap between me and the group off the front. So here I was chasing a few others that got around the crash just ahead of me and a lead group that I could not even see anymore. Well I red-lined it (bad idea with cold muscles) until I was seeing stars while my legs were screaming in an endless, painful agony. I had thoughts of quitting so the pain would quit, but my ego never let it happen.

I quickly learned the areas of the soft, twisty course where I was fastest and used them to my advantage...I steadily picked off riders in front me while getting faster on the course as the laps sped by. I came through the finish after the required 10-laps all alone with nobody in site front or rear - my eyes just about popped out of my head in disbelief as I signed out in 4th place.

I ran the Pacenti Quasi-Moto 650B tire up front and a Bontrager 26" Revolt (tubeless) in the rear. I was wishing for the beefier Pacenti Neo-Moto 650B up front and a Bontrager Jones ACX in the rear to maintain more speed through the numerous sharp, soft-sandy corners in this course. The tire combo I had on the bike (Quasi-Moto/Revolt) did OK, but both were sliding through the corners which equates to less speed and more effort coming out the corner. Pushing both front and rear tires to their limits and sliding through corners is a good skill to practice (and fun) and that is the attitude I took instead of worrying about it as I raced.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

SS Cyclocross

Why I continue to pay for self sufferage at cyclocross races is still something I ponder on a daily basis (and more so during these events). It just seems contrary to normal thinking to pay someone money so that you can self-induce extreme burning muscle pain that makes you want to puke and send one's self into an ego depleting humbleness when you get your butt stomped by those that actually train for this insane sport of cyclocross. And I still am praying for a sloppy rainy, muddy course to make all this even more fun!? I've lost my sanity it seems.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane

I bumped my pain up a notch this last weekend (and my ego down a notch or two) when I raced a Spokane cyclocross race on my single-speed (SS) converted Gunnar cross bike.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane

After pre-riding the course I realized I was at a gun fight armed with a water pistol...not good to say the least. The opening run-out was at least 1/2-mile of fast pave (which is so anti-cyclocross). The long pave start translated into a need for SS crank RPMs that are not physically achievable by me to keep up with 28-30 mph speeds. I was spinning like mad at the start and doing 25+ mph while I was watching everyone pass me and steadily fade away. Then once onto the dirt there was another long straight stretch that was again a high speed runout. The end result was that I had no chance to keep up from the start.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane

By the time I got to the more traditional cyclocross stuff (twisty with barriers) were the SS shines, I was so far behind that all I could do was to overtake anyone in front of me with continuous all-out-I-don't-train-for-this-kind-of-stuff-effort. I was happy that I was not lapped (not even close) and that I finished within the middle third of the group.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane

Also I was happy that I was not the only SSer out there that got their butt kicked by this road-toad course. I only hope that the course designers come up with something a little more creative and cyclocross-like for the next few races that are up in that area.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane

On the better side of this story, this was another fun event and I do believe I am addicted to cyclocross much so that late next summer I may actually change up my endurance training for some short power training needed for cyclocross. It's too bad they don't have a super-cross event that went on for 3-6 hours so that I could shine at what I do best...the long haul.

After my event Donna (my mate-for-life) and I cheered on some familiar faces (as well as nearly everyone else). Louie Fontain got plenty of support from us as the only SSer in the elite mens group. He worked hard and had the same problems/limitations as I did on this course, but his effort made everyone else's look minor in comparison.

Then there was Ted from Pullman who made the hill run-up look easier than anyone else...he ran up that thing so smoothly that, in appearance, he made it seem effortless (which he and all of us know that it was not so easy). He started fast, but somehow ended up nearly last after the first few laps. However Ted showed us all how it was done by steadily picking up places and putting in a hard effort until the end.
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane
From 20081102_Cyclocross Spokane