Monday, April 21, 2008
Leesburg Bakers Dozen
The "Dozen" lived up to expectations and even exceeded a few. Rob and the crew at Plum Grove Cyclery really did an excellent job with this race. The Champion Chip timing was great, no need to carry a stupid baton or scan a card at the timers table. Just transition at your pit, which was right on the course, and the timing tent keeps track of your progress as you ride past it. Think "Easy Pass" for bike racing. Brilliant!
The race began with a mass start where riders were to "self-select" their speed/ability. I put myself somewhere in the middle of the pack and really need to stop doing that to myself. Not to boast, but, I believe I'm a little faster than where I placed myself. This hurt me when the pack got bunched up in the single track. Of course, I kept telling myself that this was just going to be a fun race and I wanted to keep things casual. Problem is when I hear that starting gun, I forget all that other stuff and get caught up in the moment. Sure enough, as soon as we entered the single track things got dicey. The course is tight and there were few good passing opportunities for long stretches. Even SweetCheeks got hung up as the traffic slowed and some impatient racers clipped his wheel on the first ladder bridge. I was several people behind and had to give him a little crap. That's what friends do....right? I slowly work my way through a packed field and get done with lap one. DKEG and I decide to pull two lap shifts until the kids race and then re-work as needed. Lap two was much better than the first and I could get those big 29er wheels rolling the way they were intended. The Donk did me right and I was happy with the gear I chose. The second lap was fairly uneventful in that I was turning a nice lap and nothing was breaking or hurting. That would soon change. David rolls out for his laps and we decide that the next round will be a single, this should put him in perfect position to watch Jake do the kids race at 3pm. Knowing a single lap was ahead, I decided I'd push it a little a see how things shook out. Well, it gave me a very satisfying 31:30 and my fastest lap for the race. It all went down hill from there. My forth lap started and ended fine, I pulled it back a bit because we were back to doing doubles, this gave me a 33:32 and plenty in the tank for lap two. One mile into this lap I flat, not sure on what, but I did and had to take care of business fast. Old tube out, new one in, CO2 filled, good pressure and I was off again. Now I have to make up time and start to hammer outside my comfort zone for this type of race. I'm clipping along, looking forward to the double lap rest I know awaits and a mile from the end I feel the rear end get all sloppy again. FLAT....FUCK??!!! I already used my spare and don't carry a patch kit during short lap races. I'm hosed. One guy asks if I need anything and tosses me a tube when I tell him the story. Cory from Henry's Bikes, I owe you a beer, thanks. Fortunately I have a second CO2 canister, that I happen to find on the course earlier. I get to work and have the new 26" tube sitting nicely in my big hoops. As I insert the nozzle onto the valve I notice how curiously short the valve is and wonder why all my precious gas seems to be going everywhere except where it belongs....in the tube. I adjust things, pull the valve out to it's maximum and try again. Same result. Pressurized gas is creating holes in the ozone and my tire is still flat. Now I'm starting to panic. Riders are passing, asking if I'm alright, if I need something yada, yada. All the while I'm sure they are wondering why this kook can't fill his tire with a 20 pound propane cylinder. I would have used my pump, but, I decided to go all "Joe Pro" racer and was racing without my trusty C-Back....which had a pump and another tube and a damn Nascar pit crew worth of tools. Outlaw Jay comes rolling up and hands me his pump....I owe you a beer as well. The pump had the same problem as the CO2 and couldn't get a good seal on the valve. Well let me tell you....my blood pressure was through the roof at this point and I'm sure the entire pit area heard all the various expletives coming from my mouth. I get the tire to about 20 psi and say fuck it, I'm riding. I go easy for that last mile and have 90% of my weight on the front wheel. A third flat would have caused me to go postal. I roll back to the pit, yarf up some grape skins and grab a nice Imperial Stout from The Outlaws. I was due! That 52 minute lap haunted me the rest of the day....as did those damn grapes I ate.
We raced, we hurt and we packed it up a little early to enjoy the rest of a spectacular day. 18 laps total and we just missed the podium....by as many spots. I won't bore you with the rest of the details, but, I would like to leave you with something Jim from the PedalShop said at last summers Jamboree. Something that had a lasting effect on me. To paraphrase: "It's really great when this many people, who all represent different shops, can get together, race each other and have a good time.....as friends".
Several photos by Gary
One from Yours Truly
TT guy stolen from internet