La vie de vélo

Adventures in cycling and life

Voodoo Fail

Some times things happen that make you step back and reassess your goals….

Saturday morning, I woke up way before sunrise to get down to Lake Pueblo in time for the 8am start. The race venue was so poorly organized. The parking, registration and aid station drop were in three different places a few miles apart and the logistics meant that many folks were running late. I did my warmup anticipating an 8am start but was greeted by a line of people still waiting to register. Warrior Cycling – well I’m not gonna bad mouth ’em but lets just say they could stand to improve their event organization skills.

Finally started around 9am. I got a call-up as last year’s champ in the M30-39 category so I rolled out of the neutral start in the front row. After the flag went down, we started hammering the paved climb to get position for the singletrack.

I entered the singletrack in second.. a little too fast but i was feeling good. I eventually settled into a loose group of the top 5 riders. Saw one of them on the side of the trail with a flat and selfishly thought, “Bummer.. better him than me”.

Well, instant karma’s a bitch. 3 minutes later, about 7 miles into the first lap, My rear tire went squishy… but a shot of CO2 and the sealant worked its magic so I only lost a minute and about 20 places.

Five minutes later, hammering back up to the top ten, I flatted again. Not the squishy, slow leak, stan’s might seal it, type of leak – this was a sidewall tear. My invincible Maxxis Ikon EXOs were torn to shreds. After booting the tire and putting in a tube and pumping it up, I was on my way .. lost about 7 minutes and was now way back in the 100s.

The awesome singletrack which would have made for a fun flowing ride at the front was hell being stuck in mid pack. I had to dart off the trail into goatheads/cactus infested sand traps and sprint past groups of riders, recover, sprint again, repeat several dozens of times. It was frustrating to say the least to not be able to ride at your pace.

I finally fought my way back up to maybe the top 30 or so… was feeling good and ready to tackle the end of lap 2 when my tube was slashed by a rock. Game over. Even if I had another tube or patch kit, I was just mentally drained at this point so I ran the bike back for the final 6 miles, went straight to the car and drove home.

Frustration over mechanicals is becoming the norm for me over the past few years. It is coming pretty darn close to sucking all the fun out of racing. I barely have the time, money or desire to buy and maintain the equipment necessary to sustain racing at this level. The fact that I’m racing on a bike I bought in 2008 against folks lining up with the latest $6k carbon FS bikes is pretty telling. I can deal with that. I can’t deal with the fact that many of my races in the past 2 years have been lost due to mechanicals and “bad luck” in the form of flat tires (Let’s see, the last 12 months have seen six DNFs due to flat tires). All the time and preparation and sacrifice .. it means very little when 1/3 of my races are determined by my tire’s inability to hold air. Not a very fulfilling hobby as the costs keep rising, the risks of failing due to chance are high and the sacrifices seem barely worth it. Hmm maybe I’m just bitter about the weekend….


April 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dawn ’til Dusk 2011 race report

I took 2 pictures this entire trip. Turns out, I only needed one to say everything there is to say about my Dawn ’til Dusk race in 2011 …

The event, as always, was wonderfully organized and executed. Every event organizer could just use Dawn ’til Dusk as the ideal model of how a race should be conducted. Just an awesome time, good people, good vibe, good trails.

An HORRIBLE weather. I had reservations about driving 10 hours to a weather forecast calling for gale force winds, cold temps and rain. But I went anyways and decided to camp (its really the only way to experience D2D plus I wanted to stake out a prime pit spot along the trail).

The race started at 7am with calm, clear and cold skies. My plan was to go out hard, keep going at tempo pace until I cracked, then just try to hold a steady ‘CTR’ pace for the final few laps. Well I was nailing the 2nd lap, riding with the top soloist, when my crank started creaking. Creaks turned to clunks and I quickly stopped to tighten the crank bolt. But the damage has been done – the bolt has loosened up and stripped the initial threads so I couldn’t get the crankarm to tighten. I finished up the 2nd lap with 3 miles of running, one-legged pedaling and scootering along the trail. Lost a ton of time on the trail. Luckily the REI pit crew were able to clean out the threads well enough to torque the bolt back in. I lost 20 minutes but was just happy to have a bike and be able to finish!

Lap 3 I just put the hammer down and tried to get back up to the front. Probably burnt a few too many matches but its better than being complacent and lose your race while stuck behind slightly slower riders on the singletrack.

Then the weather started! The next two laps were viscious winds. Like steady 35 mph winds with 50 mph gusts. I saw a girl get literally knocked off her bike. I was in a strong group of four riders and the leader got blown off the trail into a tree (thank god it wasn’t off a cliff). Dust in the eyes, just holding onto the bars for dear life. It was scary scary stuff.

The wind died down a bit just as the temperature dropped below 40 and the rain started. The trail became nice and tacky; no more dust. I had my rain shell on for the rest of the race and stayed relatively warm and dry but some folks were caught out in the worst of it getting soaked to the bone with insufficient clothing.

The temps kept dropping and the rain turned to a heavy wet snow. The trails were muddy and sloppy; the type of clay mess that sticks to your tires and clogs your wheels in the frame. My shifters were all but useless and there was no traction on the climbs. The rest of the race stayed like this though the trail conditions got slightly better.

In the end, the snow kept coming, the trail and the bikes were getting damaged and it was time to call the race. I came into the pit at 4:15 expecting to go out for 2 more laps but the race was cut off at 5:00 pm. In the end I pulled off 8 laps in 9:15 – a good result for the 10 hours of dawn ’til slop.

Afterwards, the awards ceremony in the circus tent was awesome – free beer, good food, a huge party in the middle of a desert snowstorm. I somehow pulled off a great ride despite the crank incident. Got 1st place in the Solo Male 30-34 and 2nd place overall amongst the solo riders! It was both the most satisfying and miserable race I have ever done!

April 12, 2011 Posted by | race | 2 Comments