RACE REPORT: Snotcycle 2013 Part II

the results are up for 2013 SNOTCYCLE
I have yet to look at MY handful of photos from SNOTCYCLE
I have been to self absorbed in finding photos of myself on the bike to care about what I did with the camera

last night the results for SNOTCYCLE were posted online
I had not checked the numbers
I am pleased with my effort
I am satisfied with my results
not a bad first lap... too bad I could not maintain that for the duration of the race!
either way... on with PART II of the report

Race Report SNOTCYCLE Part One

as I neared the race location I started to see cars loaded down with mountain bikes with race plates pinned to the the handlebars
this site gave me relief
relief because it assured me I was headed the correct direction
relief because I was seeing clean bikes rather than muddy bikes
the printed directions from MAPQUEST were guiding me to the right spot without any creative shortcuts
the drive was free and easy
no panic to make the registration
plenty of time to arrive at The Freedom Center and get suited up and do a little socializing and then also some warm up
but really... warm ups are not my thing

warm up?  

I feared warming  up and breaking a sweat and then standing around in a damp chamois
so... I did minimal pedaling around

then drank a Red Bull as my warm up

it was a casual atmosphere at The Freedom Center
there were multiple bonfires
people from the earlier races chatted with those about to race
there was talk about the glory of the earlier races and what to expect of the trail in the Single Speed race to come

it was starting to warm up
the course was changing

ready and waiting for the racers to gather in the staging area I heard the word from Go Time Racing event promoter for the Single Speeders to gather at the line
to my pleasure... that spot was right in front of me
I was able to step over the course tape and stand in the front row

what am I doing in the front row?

at the front row I glanced behind me and offered to the racers behind me to join me at POLE POSITION
people were hesitant
I was not going to "make" anyone line up along side of me

but I offered up again and called a few people forward

there were a few words from the race official and then a tame preparation for the start

then the release

oh man... oh oh man...
what to do... what to do...
PEDAL! as the Niner Mantra goes PEDAL HARDER DAMIT!

so I did... I spun my 32 X 18 at a good clip

I was unsure what to expect of the bike and the body
I am never sure what to expect from the bike and the body

there were people with a wide variety of bikes set up specifically for these sorts of conditions
the trails were hard packed snow and I was not sure what to expect of the traction on the corners
so many "FAT BIKES" and even a number of people with studs on snow tires
but not me... I was riding a bike with knobby tires... tires I was not so sure of what to expect in the snow

riding in the snow is not really part of my routine
sure I will commute in the snow

but I rarely go mountain biking in the snow
if it snows I am more likely to spend my day shoveling the walk, digging out the cars, and of course sledding with my kids... then if I am lucky... I will go cross country skiing in Rock Creek Park

but no... I NEVER put the bike on the roof of the car and drive out to the trails so I can ride my bike in the snow

so this was something different... this was something completely different
no Dorthy... we are not at Wednesday at Wakefield
in fact... this very well could be the inverse of W@W

not dry dust... not 100 degrees with 100 percent humidity
very different... very very different

I was not sure what to expect of my bike or my body or how my tire selection would handle the snowy conditions

I was also unsure what to expect of the trails
around the fire before the race fellow DCMTB racer BrianS. spoke of a flat trail without any technical demands
and that there were some 90 degree turns feeding into some slick bridges

but no surprises

I was surprised how much climbing there was on this flat course

600 feet of climbing
tough climbing for for the Clydesdale
roller coaster... but not flat

yes... I took off like a jack rabbit...
or better yet...
I took off like a greyhound chasing a jack rabbit
or better yet
I took off like a St. Bernard chasing a jack rabbit
no matter the totem animal... I WAS OFF AND RUNNING!

I went from standing still to the RED LINE in a few pedal strokes
I hammered away from the field pleased to get to select the line and the pace on the climbs without having to slow and stop for the SINGLETRACK CATERPILLAR
it was a pleasure to see the trail in front of me rather than someone else's rear wheel

no specks of mud kicking up in my face
getting caught between my teeth
smacking me in the uvula 
going around my clear lenses and going into my eye
no... the splattered mud was coming from my rear wheel

my rear wheel that would soon start losing air

then it happened
about halfway through lap one I could feel the presence of a racer behind me

I offered the pass... the unknown racer behind me was fine with my pace
but would eventually have to pass

I was willing to make passing possible when I could

then at about 3 quarters through the first lap it happened
I was passed by one racer... then another
slowing... but not stopping
coasting when I wanted to pedal
I allowed faster racers to pass me

trying to find a spot to pass that worked for them and worked for me
for the most part people passed without issue
one racer tried at illogical points to make a pass
there was some conflict
but if I was passed by 11 racers and one racer had issue
then I will put the issue on them

when racers passed I let them pass
I did not fight to maintain pace

my intention was to ride and race hard
to stay in my own game
to allow faster racers to finish in front of me while keeping slower racers finishing behind me

ah... the multi-lap race
a difficult thing for the less fit racer
the factoring in of the body's potential

then a measure of input and potential output

the first lap was longer than I expected

which would mean that the following two laps would also be longer than I expected
I must say... I was pleased with things when I crossed the START-FINISH at the completion of lap one
after I muscled that climb I smiled when a handful of people cheered on my effort

then I smiled wider as I started lap two
it pleased me to be there

I was in the moment
there was satisfaction in just being a part of the event

lap two started and there was a sign of relief as I had some familiarity with what to expect of the race course in front of me
but not so fast... things were starting to change
the warming afternoon temperatures were changing the trails

a good percentage of the trails were still hard packed snow
but there were sections that were not hidden by the tree canopy
visible to the noon sun allowing the trails to lose some if its snow cover

in some places soft slick mud replaced hard packed snow

as said... the course was not as flat as people had claimed
as a Clydesdale I will tell you that climbing is the heavier rider's greatest disadvantage
there was plenty of climbing on this course

not any long sustained climbs
nothing absurdly steep
but plenty of heart pumping leg burning climbs

it was tough to get traction on the climbs
I had to modify my body position to muscle the climbs
it was important for me to try to keep my weight over the rear wheel when trying to climb
when my default position for such climbs is normally a little more over the front of the bike

this caused me to use muscles I do not necessarily have

where the snow had melted on the climbs
well... if these climbs were difficult with hard packed snow

these climbs became more difficult with the slick mud
I lost momentum... pace... and position each time I slid out

then there were other issues...

a few months back I was riding with some people from the MORE Board
on this ride I started to lose air in my front tire
as it turns out my sealant in my front tubeless set up had dried out
we did a quick roadside repair and put a tube in it

the night prior to the race I swapped out the front tire
then gave some consideration to putting a tube in the rear

like a fool I crossed my fingers instead
wrong choice

sure enough...
as I feared... as I anticipated... as anyone would have predicted
I was losing air in the rear
by the time I was halfway through the second lap I was rolling on a rear tire that was far bellow the recommended PSI for a rider my size

it did not seem to be effecting my control
but it did give me anxiety
I questioned whether or not I would be able to finish the race

on this day I was racing "bare back"
no tools... no tube... no pump

I considered stopping at the start of lap three and calling out for a pump
it got to that point where I had more miles behind me than ahead of me
I smiled to myself that I was more than halfway done
it gave me pleasure that I was on the bike
I was determined to finish... so I pedaled on
cringing when I crossed over the few technical sections where I could feel my rim bottoming out on a rock or a root

when lap two finished and lap three started I had forgotten about the plan to stop and call out for a pump
all I could think of was the fact that I had one more lap
just one more lap
I could hammer out one more lap

a handful of spectators cheered as I passed through the START-FINISH and dropped back into the race course

being more familiar with the course I tried to get some speed on the long straight aways
the course a The Freedom Center is very very twisty
there were a few long swooping sections that could be recovery areas taken at speed
get speed where you can

on the last lap the anxiety of the rear end increased
I questioned if I was doing damage to my rear wheel

yes... I wanted to finish
but at what cost

then on top of that... my chain tensioning effort the night prior was done with a standard hex wrench... i may not have had enough leverage to get the eccentric bottom bracket to tighten down all the way
which had me suffering a loose chain
a chain that dropped several times during the last two laps

when the chain dropped I caught my breath and was able to take a slug of Gatorade from my water bottle
so it was not an entire loss... but this allowed chasing racers to get closer and leading racers to pull further away
the course was far too twisty to be reaching for the water bottle...
especially on these snow covered trails... so these short breaks were appreciate

the final miles were winding down
I fought off anything that may had been chasing me
a good number of people had passed me

but I felt as though I was still in the top ten
a top ten finish would have been respectable

when I crossed the line I was elated that it was over
well... more elated that I had experienced it
satisfied that it was done
finished 13th
not bad... not bad at all


photos from SNOTCYCLE
and then
Gary Ryan... who did not take any photos of me

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