This probably won't read a lot like most write-ups of this event.
I learned a lot...
Lance Andre is a great guy and a strong rider. I greatly appreciate that he let me in the race with little warning (Friday night). The race was well run, organized and well thought-out. I do question whether or not the "groomer" incident(s) weren't part of his master plan though. I'm also glad he didn't include me in his post race wrap-up... motivation is good, I don't blame him for assuming I was going to fall away... (just kidding Lance- a DNF is a DNF and is not worthy of any consideration). All of the others involved in the race were knowledgeable, kind and generally seemed to really want to be there. I was forced to take advantage of the sag system and got a ride quickly and it was as pleasent as possible with my state of mind.
Likewise, the other racers were all kind and interesting. Everyone was awesome. It was nice to get to check out other's equipment choices and see a wide range of stuff that worked and some that didn't. It will be valuable to me into the future (particularly when it comes time to get a real snow bike setup). I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that an awesome race like this would bring out good people, but I'd hate to not make note of it.
I've been doing something right training wise... I can drop everything Friday night at 6pm and get all my stuff together and find a hotel and get enough rest and find a perkins and find the start and get registered and be ready to go and it can all be totally last minute and crazy, I've got the clothing side of things down within the realm of a "day" race, I can run a mile in deep/soft snow while controlling my effort and heartrate without putting myself "under" (and without destroying my knee), I can mentally adapt and stay positive even when the conditions change drastically for the worse, I can follow my plan for feeding, my 29er setup with the racing ralphs can compete with anything, I can maintain good even power output for 3 hrs (enough to win in 6+?)...
...sadly, I didn't get the chance to REALLY determine any of those things. Things were going as well as, or better than, I had visualized over and over again on the drive down, but it's all meaningless without having to grind it out at the end. I was still at the stage of just trying to set things up, follow my plan and give myself a chance. I'll be driven by the desire to prove that where I was, and thought I was going, wasn't an accident or fluke.
crank loose at start- tightened it with borrowed allen (thanks man- whoever you were). Should have sensed trouble, but pushed it out of my mind.
easy roll out through town on pavement. pace got pushed just a little bit, I knew it was more than most really wanted because it was starting to tax me. I should have known to get all the way to front before the snow.
we hit the snow covered hiking trail (1 mile without snowmobile trails covered in snow) and I was pleased to be able to ride enough of it to get clear of the main field before I started running. I tried to settle into a reasonable pace that I could maintain a full mile, but couldn't help worrying about my knee. This section really separated the field out, which was genious by the organizers- I love the cruelty.
Finally, reached the real trail to find awesome, firm conditions. Snowmobile trails have seldom felt so fast to me on a bike. Spent the next 90 minutes following the trail in the snow of the one non-pug in front of me (Dennis Grelk flew by on his Pug about 45 minutes in, but then stayed just in site riding with the other ride up front). Stopped at 90 minute mark to get some nutrition and Lance Andre, Ben Shockey and someone else? caught up. I felt energized after having a drink and getting some calories, the trail was in great shape and I decided to put down a decent pace (left that group and got out "in the middle" on my own again.
groomer! groomer came by and I forced a smile and continued. I took solace in the tracks of the two before me, I knew I had an advantage because I could see where they faltered (and probe the other side of the trail). I focused on keeping things simple, organized and efficient. Lance caught up, but didn't ride away. Some sections were better for each of us, but we stayed basically together for 30 or 45 minutes. We caught the other non-pug (wish I knew his name?). His tires weren't as effective as mine, he dropped a bit back.
I dropped my chain, I dropped my chain again, I dropped my crankarm... (CRAP- THAT'S WHY I DROPPED MY CHAIN) I was 3 hrs in and 24.76 miles. I was no where near done. I laid down and considered throwing the jettisoned crankarm far into the field to my right. Realized I couldn't afford to do so. No one came, no one came, I realized I'd been riding better than I had realized. Still no one came. I called my parents, called Laura, whined, felt like crying. Finally, a Pugsley floated by. I walked into the nearest town and waited for the 'sag' to come get me.
Ordered an amber bock and a diet coke, my check card was declined! Ha- what beautiful symmetry. Used all my money on bike parts and they broke and now I'm sitting in a bar in the middle of no where feeling broke.
As I sit here now I am realizing it was an awesome day. What could I have possibly done that would have been more fun? I WILL be back next year! Wish someone would have told me how cool this race was... my number will be added to the wall in the garage with pride and the memory will be with me forever (all the more so because it was a 'failure')
crankset is 2008 raceface deus xc
problem was a stripped bolt (aluminum) which threads into the spindle... I otherwise enjoy the crankset and think it was a good value. I'm hoping that changing to a steel or Ti bolt will take care of the problem, as I honestly don't think I can choose to afford something 'better' without giving up some other things I want to do). I wonder how much the cold played into the issue. I'm thinking the temperature changes recently were what led to it's initially loosening up (prior to race the bike had been inside/outside at my house, hotel and at the start). When I tightened it at the start it was still somewhat warm from being inside and then as it cooled while riding... disaster. It's a lesson worth learning- I hadn't ridden that bike much yet this winter because I've been training on the Monocog. I should have tested it like the rest of my equipment or left it at home.
I did also email raceface warranty to see what they will say.
Attack of the Flies. - This past weekend I biked up to and home form Jen's folks cabin. It was the ride home that was memorable. It was an East wind so I opted to head over to ...
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