Last weekend I had the pleasure of being able to attend a race that is for a worthy cause. This is the second year that this race has been put on. I was unable to attend last year, so when the day opened up for me I knew I needed to go. This race is put on to help fund a worthy cause of Shirley's Way and all proceeds were put in to that organization. I am sure there is no one out there who has not been effected by cancer and some all too frequently.
It ended up being a fairly cool morning, but the weather was going to be awesome. This years race was located at Otter Creek park. It has been a long time since I had rode there and by a long time I mean it was still in the 90's. This was a go to place for us back then and there was even a full race series put on at this venue. I know a lot of people used to do a lot of riding here. At some point they started charging to get in the gate and also an extra fee to ride the trails. With a lot of other trails popping up that you could ride for free, the attendance went away. I know this is the point where I had stepped away from riding for several years. When I came back there were a lot of changes to where you could ride. With the lower attendance here and the lack of volunteers to help keep the trails clear, I guess I just never thought about going back.
I am always a little on the unsure side of my riding and how well I will do each day. I was not feeling like I was going to have an awesome day, so as I normally do I tried to set back a little at the start. I know that I do not need to go full bore right out of the gate only to blow myself up too soon. I tend to need a more gradual warm up to have a good day. It didn't take me too long in to the woods that I didn't like the pace that we were riding and wanted to get around a couple riders and had to pick and choose to make some passes.
|photo credit to James Peck|
Not too far down the trail I saw the rider leading the SS class. After a couple more passes I was right behind him. I was thinking about just riding his wheel and saving myself for later in the race because I knew there would be some good climbs out there. This lasted a little bit, but like I have mentioned before, a SS bike has a pace that it just likes to go. I was currently riding a little slower than that. If I stay at that pace then it is possible for me to wear myself out even more by going slower. So, I made the pass and kept moving on.
I was feeling pretty good and the bike was rolling well. The trail was a little slick in spots that made it hard for me to keep traction on some of the climbing sections. The slick roots did not help either. I did pass a couple more people, but overall I had some clear trail ahead to do what ever pace felt right. Several sections looked familiar as I rode them. Soon enough I found myself all alone. I was hoping I didn't go too hard that it would come back to bite me for the second lap.
There were some good technical sections. There was a rock stair step like down hill section that was a lot of fun and a super tight and steep switch back that was tricky. The dirt was a little wet and made it harder to make the turn with it being so steep and tight. There were also some creek crossings that were filled with rocks. I was thinking that a full suspension would have been really nice for those spots as I bounced all around the place. Then I came up on the big climb of the day. I rode parts of it, but there were sections that I figured I would be a lot better off just walking. With the trail a little moist and the rocks and roots being slick, I tried to pick and choose what matches I wanted to burn.
|photo credit to James Peck|
Second lap was pretty uneventful over all. There were a couple sections where my rear tire hit either rocks or roots and made a loud pop, but thankfully never flatted. It had been a little while since I had seen anyone and began to wonder if I had passed all of the other cat 2 riders. I did pass several and I didn't think there were that many up ahead at the start. The lap times and overall results have not been posted so I really don't know if anyone was still up there.
Late in the second half of the lap I kept looking over my shoulder just expecting someone to catch me. There was one section where I could see a little farther back and sure enough there was a rider. Thankfully it was my teammate E2. I fully expected him to be in front of me anyway and if anyone was going to catch me, no better person than him. I kept moving forward and pushing toward the finish. There were times I could not see him back there anymore and others that I could. After the big climb I knew I was in the home stretch and tried to dig a little deeper to see if I could hold him off.
After one of the road crossings I was starting to really feel it. I was thinking that was the last one and just hold on to the end. Then I came up to another road crossing. Crap! I have farther to go. Thankfully this section was a little flatter and I recovered a little and could finish strong. I even had the energy to pull up a nice long wheelie at the finish line. It felt great to put in another good ride and end up on the podium. This is my 3rd podium of the year and still a little shocking for me.
|Yes I know. I need some better podium shorts|
This switch back to riding a SS has treated me pretty well so far. I still have a lot of doubts on what I can do, but the bike has proven to pull out the best of me. I can only hope that this continues as I have already committed to some big things in 2018 on the one gear wonder machine.
I have to put out a huge shout out and thank you to this guy Ralph Reinacker! He is the reason this race is happening. He has put in a ton of hours and effort to help take one passion and allow it to help something so personal to so many people. He has done a great job with this race in only its second year. He brought back a venue that has been missed by several and never even heard of by others. The band, the chili, the beer and the huge swag table! I can not say it enough, THANK YOU! Seriously, if you were not at this race, you missed out! Everyone needs to clear their calendar and attend next year.
I also need to thank some people that help me out. Phil @ Adventure's Recreation and Gear always goes above and beyond for me. ESI grips for keeping my hands happy. Honey Stinger for helping keep me fueled. Carbo Rocket for giving me the go go juice to keep the hammer down.