Sunday, July 12, 2009

SS State Championships, 2009

Please, step into my time machine. Let's go back to the beginning of July. For some reason, I never published this. I imagine I was going to prattle on about some more stuff, but luckily for you I've forgotten!

The Single Speed State Championships took place this weekend [actualy, around two months ago] at Levis Trow Mounds. Around 4:00 on Friday, before leaving, I decided that instead of doing the 12 hour (or in this case, the 100 miler) I would do the SS championships after all. Thing is, we (erm, Cale) had to put the rest of my new single speed together. I sold the Motobecane just days before, so Cale used his old SS Zion frame as the base for my new bike. I got some Stroker Trails from work (the ones with my graphics on them!) but unfortunately, I couldn't get a hold of an 80mm Minute 29er fork. In order to put this SS together, I bought some new parts, and Cale took some parts off of my geared Zion and Cale's SS snow bike. This left those two cannibalized bikes in a sorry, sorry state.

Aw. But Cale did put together one hell of a SS in the end.

After cobbling together the Frankenstein bike, we hit the road, just in time for rush hour traffic. Whoops. Eventually, though, we got out of the traffic nightmare and made it to Levis to meet Joey and set up the tent before the rain. Just as we put the finishing touches on the EZ-Up, big fat drops of rain broke into a thundershower for 10 minutes. Heh, for added privacy, Joey set his tent up inside of our six person tent:

In any case, I ought to get to talking about the actual race. My thoughts before the race were, of course, full of worry. Since the bike was brand new, there was a good chance that something could go wrong. It's kind of like wearing a new pair of hiking boots for a day-long hike. You can really only pray that everything goes well. The other thing on my mind was the competition. I knew Murphy-Kate was going to be there, and word on the streets was she was going to be the one to beat, and that it could go either way.

The race started and I was pretty firmly toward/at the back. M-K was mid-pack or so, but there was a Twin Six rider ahead of me, so I just set in to follow her. My plan going into the race was to just ride well and see where it got me. At this point, I figured I could race for second as well as I could race for first. In a 2.5/3 hour mtb race, I prefer to start out at my own pace and try to pick off the racers who tire out.

So I followed the last of the single speeders along the fire road and into the single track, snacking on the massive amount of dust kicked up. I watched the T6 rider through the single track. She was going at a good clip, taking the corners faster than I was but slowing while going over bumpy, root-y sections, perhaps on account of her rigid setup. I hung out behind her for a while and watched her closely on the climbs. I reckoned I was a little faster up the inclines, so around the second section or so I passed her on a climb.

My goal was to stay in front of third when I came up on Murphy-Kate. I cautiously stayed behind her and watched for a little while. Yep, I'm kind of a creeper. She was fast through corners and had good handling skills, but again I was a little stronger on inclines. I pulled ahead of her, telling myself that if I could come up on her, I could pass and stay ahead.

After that I just focused on being positive, laying off the brakes and charging the hills. I don't like being out in front because I worry about fading, slowing up or just generally messing up. I always think that maybe someone I've passed is lurking, or catching up to me. So I gave myself little pep talks to stay motivated. Since I hadn't had anything to eat or drink before the 10:00 start, I watched for a spot of smooth trail to eat something and drink some water. I squeezed out most of a packet of Hammer Gel into my mouth and just about ralphed. I have a pretty weak stomach before and during races, and a mouth full of gel was a little much. It went swallow, gag..... swallow, gag..... swallow and guzzle some water to try to forget all about it. Ugh, it was awful at the time, but I needed to eat.

I was happy to see the first lap behind me. As I came through I yelled for some electrolyte mix, which Joey handed up to me. During the second lap, I went from feeling great to feeling like I was losing ground- probably because I hadn't eaten properly. I tried to stay focused on the trail but I started day dreaming, too. I went back and forth from thinking about how it would feel to win to how fast I could change a flat or stomp a wheel back into true. What kind of injuries or bike would shut me down, and which could I ride through? Well, most of the way through the second lap I found out the answer to one of those questions.

I was on one of the last sections, cruising downhill with the left pedal down, right one up, when I snagged the left one on a stump that was obscured by the weeds growing up around it. It was a dumb error, and it sent me flying over the bars and to the right, alongside the trail. Since I was almost back, and had a race to finish, I was instantly grabbing for the handlebars and hopping back on. I started pedaling before I really took stock of myself. Mercifully, the ground was soft and sandy, so I didn't fare too badly. Slightly stubbed finger and embarrassingly dirty, but that was all.

As I came into view of the finish line, I heard the announcer... well, announcing me... as the state champion. It felt good, and it felt good to be done! I pulled up to the chalet to Cale taking pictures and quite a large crowd of people who were watching the men and women finish the SS race. The announcer said "Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 champion!" and people started clapping. I was kind of stuck in front of the crowd and didn't know quite what to do, so I did a beauty queen wave and blew a few kisses before going through the crowd to get some water.

I got stopped, though, to do a few questions. I was pretty cooked and was sniffling all throughout my answers (Yep, I'm pretty great at interviews) so I missed a nice opportunity to make a SS joke. When asked if I had any mechanicals, I really should have gone with something like "Yeah, the shifting was terrible! Har har!"

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