RACE REPORT: 2013 Snotcycle (PART 1)

it is simple... it is complicated...
photo by Darrell Parks

the evening of registration for Snotcycle one of the many "Brians" on DCMTB sent out a message about the 8PM Registration Start Line
I had never raced Snotcycle... this seemed like a good opportunity to change that

so... I bit the bullet
I logged onto BIKEREG and was one of the first people to register in the Single Speed Category at The Go Time racing event a The Freedom Center just a little outside of Leesburg Virginia... just down the road from the farm where they host the 12 hour mountain relay race The Baker's Dozen

as the race date approached I floundered
it was cold... my commutes to work had been short and straight
winter weight and winter fitness had long settled in
I was fat like Tom Turkey for Thanksgiving
and my beard and my belly were full just in time for Christmas

but really...
it was not my fitness
it was not the cold
it was not the 2 inches of freshly fallen snow on the mountain bike race course in Leesburg
it was the demons
the demons inside my head

I was giving into my demons
the excuses surfaces and they sounded good to me
I even heard myself cough once or twice
then tried grabbing onto another excuse
the excuse that I was fighting a cold
the excuse that I was not 100% and racing in the cold could make me more sick

but no... I was not fighting a cold
photo by Carlo Alfano
I was battling my demons

for lack of a better word
I was trying to fight back the malaise

riding my bike... racing my bike
getting out and doing it
that is what the mind and body needed
hard to explain it... it is something more than laziness

ironically inactivity begets inactivity
and activity is the cure to malaise

in an effort to gain some momentum I reached out to the DCMTB squad to see if anyone was racing SNOTCYCLE
the electronic message did not get any responses
it did not sound like anyone was going to head out for the Single Speed start
I knew a few people would be racing in the other classes early in the morning
which did not help things

traveling out alone is not as fun as driving out with friends
my being solo on this adventure did not add to the momentum
the final days to the event counted down
my wife Lisa was on-board for my being away for the day
so all systems were go
well... all systems were go except for me... except for my head

I tried to get my head right
when I talked to friends I sheepishly mentioned the race and then did some back pedaling
part of me wished for more snow... more snow would more than likely bring out the responsibilities of a father of two; shoveling the walk... snow ball fights... and of course sledding

but no... there was a little bit of a dusting
enough to make our afternoon ice skating session at Canal Park a little more fun
but nothing else to speak of
snow that was swept with a broom rather than moved with a shovel

so... it was the eve of the race
I had not tuned my bike... I had not packed my gear... I had not fully committed to going to the race
then I reflected back on a conversation I had had with Mike Pearce aka Coach aka Cargo Mike
Mike gave me a gentle push... "just drive out and get on the bike... it may be cold... but ten minutes into the race you will be stoked that are riding or racing"
Mike was right... It is Better on the bike

so... I flipped a switch
the battle against the malaise was not won
but I had decided that I was racing
which meant I needed to tune my bike and pack my bags
all while getting ready to race

to battle the anxiety that comes with the thought of racing I simply relaxed and breathed more easily while whispering to myself...

ride your bike... just ride your bike
ride your bike... just ride your bike
ride your bike... just ride your bike
just ride your bike fast

I felt better...  not perfect, just better
better is better than worse
in my book... better is good
so... comparatively I felt good

not sure what to do for dinner I called Lisa on our way back from ice skating... I did not feel much like cooking and suggested ordering Chinese
Lisa did not feel like cooking either... so she agreed to Chinese
we would order Chinese when we got home


we got home and learned that our neighbors would be joining us for lunch
this would be great... adults have adults to converse with and the boys have another kid to play with
we ordered and ate Chinese food
then I had to step away... head down to the basement to take a look at my bike

over the course of the week I had started tossing things I would need into a pile
things that were often hard to find
shoe covers and lobster claw  gloves would be requisite for this event
most recently I had only been able to find one of each
for this day I would need the pairs

then as far as gear went...
I had to guesstimate the temps and what would be enough and what would be too little
all while trying to avoid too much
I packed an excess of gear
lots of layer options... most of these options em-blazed with the the DCMTB logo and sponsors

there was internal debate about which shoes to bring...
I prefer the feel of my standard shoes with neoprene covers over my decade old Lake winter boots
but which shoes... the broken in old ones or the new ones that are a tad stiff and risk allowing my feet to get numb from not just cold but from immobility

each have Time Pedals... either would work fine

I went with the old shoes
unsure what helmet had me bringing two helmets
because I would wear my standard Bell race helmet if I wore just a thin skull cap
but if I were to wear a thicker cap or a thick balaclava that would merit my wearing my few year old Gryo helmet

photo by John Claman
packing was essentially finished
I did a HEAD TO TOE gear check
pulling everything from the bag... and physically touching everything I would need...
shoe covers... shoes... snowboarding socks... padded DCMTB shorts... winter thickness padless DCMTB tights... short sleeve jersey... long sleeve jersey... and a thin wind breaker vest... all with DCMTB colors... logo... and sponsors...
then TWO lobster claw gloves... hats of various thickness and balaclavas of various thickness
two helmets and then clear eye glases
then it was time to look at the bike

the Niner Single Speed was the bike of choice for the day
well... the Niner Single Speed tends to be the bike of choice for most of my riding days
especially when looking to race Single Speed
it is not good form to race a geared bike in the Single Speed class

with the Niner Sir Nine in the stand I gave things a glance
the wheels were straight
the brakes were spot on
the chain needed to be cleaned, lubed, and tightened
then the tires? what to do about the tires?

I was not sure about the tires
well... I was not sure about the front tire
I felt that the WTB Exer-Wolf would not be a good snow tire...I liked its girth but felt it lacks traction... I had felt that it did not corner well on slick conditions on some previous rides
while in the rear I considered just putting a tube in the tubeless set up
knowing that the front went flat a few months back due to lack of sealant and that the rear was at risk of doing the same

some trips to and from the basement to the garage
a little work on the bike
a task that is as good for the bike as is for the mind body and soul
there is a reward to working on things

chain cleaned, lubed, and tightened
front tire swapped for a Maxxis Ignitor
rear tire ignored... gave it some thought... but then gave it a glance and figured crossing my fingers would be good enough
then not much else... simplicity is the beauty of the single speed

bag packed...
bike tuned...

ready to race and ready to join the adults around the table for a few post dinner drinks

photo by Bruce Buckley
drinks and conversation went on into the evening
the boys were having fun so it was decided that they would have a sleep over
I was not excited about the sleep over at our house
because sometimes the sleep overs demand time, energy, and attention at bed time
so... a sleep over for the kids on the night before a race is not usually something I would recommend or approve

but no...
the 12:30 race start and the moderately close proximity of the race location made it seem okay
then to my pleasure the kids were moderately quiet

morning came quickly

I got up after the boys
but was not really asleep... just hugging the pillow for a few extra minutes
when I got up I had to rally troops
the boys had to gather things together
uniforms for Tae Kwon Do needed to be located
and breakfast needed to be made and consumed

it can be a process
there is all sorts of excess guidance that needs to go into things
especially if there is a deadline or a set time we need to arrive somewhere
young boys are easily distracted

bacon was part of the morning breakfast
the smell of bacon in the microwave had the boys rushing down the stairs when I called them down
bacon... then some fresh fruit... some juice... and some toaster waffles
there was some grumbling about the toaster waffles
young Grant even asked if I knew how to make real waffles

the boys were out the door with their neighbor in time to get Grant to his 9am Tae Kwon Do class
while Dean walked his brother with our dog and their sleep over friend and his dog
which freed me from the task
ah... got to sleep later than a weekday and then I do not have to walk the dog?


but...this little moment of perfection had its glitch!
there was some anxiety as it approached time for me to leave for my race
Dean was not home and I was not sure if he would get home with the dog in time for him to make it to his 10 am Tae Kwon Do class on time

with my car packed and my departure time rapidly approaching I grabbed a bike from the garage and tried to trace the boys steps
did not find them in the woods
did not see them on one of the predictable street routes home

while out I stopped at the Argyle Market at Mount Pleasant and Park where I was able to grab two Gatorades and a can of Red Bull
ah...  my pleasure when I rolled down the alley to the gate behind my house I found Dean dressed in his "gi" (空手着 or 空手衣) and heading out the back door with his bags packed with all of his gear
ah... then on top of that... he had written a note

on time... and left a note!?!?!?!

after giving the dog a hike as long as he could
he got back on time... got dressed... got his gear... and got out the door?
wow... my frustration dissolved... I was proud of his time management as well as his communication skills

in the car with the bike on top I started my drive to Leesburg Virginia

although I had been to the Freedom Center before... I was anxious about its actual location and my MapQuest directions

more on this in a bit...

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