Race Report: Iron Hill; Newark Delaware 2005
through the course of the week I had been thinking Hoo Ha
the Hoo Ha is a great course and a great race
have always had fun there
even the last time I raced there crashing and blacking out brings back fond memories
but as the week progressed I started to dread having my ass kicked.... again
by the time Saturday had come along I was convinced that I was racing the Hoo Ha but was not looking forward to it
the notion of having to work Sunday afternoon after a long race surrounded by a seriously long drive started seem irrational

bike racing is supposed to be a pleasure
bike racing is supposed to be a passion
there should not be an over welming feeling of dread leading into the event
sure there can be dread during moments of the race
and there most certainly will be pre-race anxiety
dread is not supposed to be a part of a person's pleasures or passions

before I put a wrench or lube to the geared Karate Monkey I rethought my actions

went ahead a re-evaluateed my plans and replotted my course
there was the Iron Hil race scheduled on this same day
less climbs and less drive
that sounded perfect
immediately my mood started to change
instant alteration to my mood

then like a fool I broke one of the oldest rules in mountainbike racing....
that rule being "never do any serious bike maintenance the night before the race"

my Karate Monkey Single Speed was long over due for a new front chain ring and new chain
parts I had set purchased and set aside for some time
sure enough
this was another case of "whack a mole"
trying to resolve one problem as another problem popped up
luckily it is a single speed and not too much can go wrong

there was a moment of panic when one of the spacers on the sealed hub in the rear cracked durning a hub adjustment
luckily the dirt jumping high school age mechanic, Adam, at City Bikes recognized this part right off and was able to find one in the shop
sure he had to pull it off a hub in the display case
but he ordered the replacement parts where are sure to arrive before a customer tries to purchase that random Surly Single Speed Rear Hub

a serious relief and a serious help
it is good to have people at the shop looking out for me

so the bike got tuned and got the bags got packed
I set out late Sunday morning for Newark Delaware where I would race with the Single Speeds at the Expert distance
the whole idea was exciting to me
the idea of riding and racing this course on the rigid single speed sounded like a splendid way to kill a Sunday afternoon

upon arrival I was shocked at how small the gathering seemed to be
as I have raced this spot several times before and remembered a different level of buzz
perhaps it was that it was late in the afternoon and the Sports and Beginners may have already finished and gone home by this time
so I made my way around the parking lot
there were a few familiar faces
saw a bunch of the Wooden Wheels guys getting ready with their single speeds

they were are all amped for next weeks SSWC at State College
for the Wooden Wheels folks this was just a hoot on the local trails for these guys
not unlike a gathering for a Wednesday At Wakefield in the DC area for a City Bikes rider
that is not to say that this was going to be a parade in the park

it was hot
but that goes without saying
August on the East Coast=HOT

this day did deliver

at the start line I avoided all tension and took the back of the pack with fellow displaced Clydesdale Mark Fitzwater
we joked about being the two man Single Speed Clydesdale class
in the bantor I noticed that one of the two expert women had her deraileur in a stressful positon
I kept it to myself
it seemed that her chain was a little short to be using the big ring in the front and the big sprocket in the back
yet I kept it to myself as I figured it would cause no harm
figured she is an expert and knows what she is doing

eventually the race began

a few minutes late
with most of the racers already sweating
it was good to be pedalling

at first it was a long parade of single speeders going into the woods
in no time at all I was in a pack of riders falling rapidly behind the lead group
with room to pass I took a few spots and then cruised behind a young rider who had a great touch on the bike

not far into the race I started to sense some problems with my bike
under a few tork situations I felt a snap crackle and a pop
... all this with no Rice Crispies on the scene
the new chain which was actually a brand new very old 7 speed chain
it did not seem to be agreeing with my set up

there had been no test on the bike
just a repair... leaving the bike on the stand... then into the car... then onto the race course
on a slow double track grade I heard a loud metalic grind and crack

only to watch my chain fall gently from my bike
already drentched in the afternoon heat and humidity I dismounted and stopped for the repair

the final single speeders caught up and passed me

then as I worked to fix my chain that woman with the stressed out deraileur passed and then I heard all sorts of noise from her bike

with the sound of cussing a hundred yards up the trail I could see this expert women racer wrestling with her bike
as I worked on my bike I looked over at her from time to time to monitor her progress which was just increasing frustration

as I finished up my repair a rider came by and asked for my pump
this same rider had given me two gel packets in the parking lot
I dug into my bag and tossed him my Crank Brother's mini
the favor was returned
everyone was frantic to get back in the game

with my chain repaired and my wheel back on the bike I mounted up and started to ride
as I approached the woman in need I could not resist to offer assistance
it was the wrong decision
I was not entirely out of the game
my mellow tone of the day took my actions in the wrong direction
I spent over ten minute taking her derailuer out of her rear wheel, removing the remains of her deraileur hanger, and then converted her bike to a single speed

when I should have just rolled past
a mistake of treating a female racer than I would have treated a male racer

I raced and rode alone for pretty much the rest of the day
there were points when the leaders caught me
the pros passed like I was standing still
perhaps I was standing still
the lead Single Speeder was flowing as he passed
I tried to hang on his wheel
but he was riding at another level

like a soldier I marched on
my DNF or DIE mentality was taking me to DFL
it was a great day to be on the course
even if the only person behind me was the person taking down the tape

on this day I broke my chain and may have broken my spirit

my head is not entirely in the game
not sure if the SM100 is on my calendar any longer this year
could I do it and finish... maybe
would it be fun.... I am not really sure
I will see how the rest of the month unfolds for me
it seems that my race season is being forced
nothing is coming natural to me
nothing is flowing

perhaps I should let off some of the pressure and get ready for cross season
(what am I talking about? I really get my ass kicked in cross!)

after the race I spent a few minutes catching up with some of the Wooden Wheels folks
they had a grill going
it was a local race for them and they had a good showing
it was good food and good catching up with those guys
always look forward to seeing them at the races
they carry an excellent spirit of the sport... comradierie and competition
and no.... I never learned to spell
where is that bicycling writer from Oregon to help me out with my spelling?

here are some of their BLOGS


that is all I can think of right now....
send them in the comments section and I will toss them up here

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