Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mud and Gherkins SCX #5 2012 Race Report Enumclaw

I'm not sure of his category, but he appears to be a National Champion, so you have to respect him!

After last weekend I had yet another freakin trip to Montreal.  As a Masters cyclist I realize I am the target demographic for ads for erectile disfunction, which in turn tell me that I have attained the age of making things happen.  I tried to make things happen by booking a mid day flight so I could sneak in a ride before strapping myself into a flying germ tube.  It sounded like a plan.

When I awoke Tuesday morning the rain wasn't quite inspiring me to build an Arc, but it was raining pretty hard.  Not be be denied I dressed and was off for some K's.  It felt good to be out and despite the deluge I had a nice ride.  A little more than an hour into it I ate a banana and turned around.  Despite starting a tad later and going a tad farther than a normally conservative Evo would have, I still figured I had plenty of time.  On the final climb I noticed my rear tire feeling a little squishy.

Like everyone else, I tried to convince myself that the tire had been this way and I had only recently realized it. I pushed my powers of denial as far as I could before stopping to meet reality head on.  A quick change and I was off again, later and dirtier, but fully inflated.

I got home, wiped down the chain and jumped in the shower.  I made my flight and I smiled as I settled into my seat with sixty K in my legs.

By the way, in Canada they have a different name for Starbucks, they call them "Tim Horton's."

The trip was uneventful and I made it home early Friday morning.

Saturday Hottie and I were able to sleep in and enjoy some of the best scones Evo has ever made. We took Tux to the beach and he showed me what real speed looks like.  The rain that had been here all week took only a short break.

Sunday dawned with big puddles and the promise of mud in Enumclaw.  Like last week, we squeezed Tux into the war wagon and made our way to the race.

As promised, the mud was present in a full variety of flavors.  Depending on the mud, sometimes it is wise to wear glasses and sometimes not. A few weeks ago at Sedro Woolley I elected not to wear glasses and I was puling grit (in ever decreasing size) out of my eyes for days.  That decision was based on the combination of mud on the ground and rain in the air.  The skies this day were grey, but no rain was falling so I opted to wear my glasses.
I guess contorting my face makes me LOOK faster.

After several warm up laps I had my tires and pressure dialed in.  I knew the course and was looking forward to the race. It was absurdly warm and as we waited at the start I noted riders wearing clothing for all conditions. Some had on short sleeved jerseys, some long sleeve and some were wearing arm warmers for the battle. Likewise on the legs.  Shorts, leg warmers, and knickers abounded as well.

Everyone who had ridden the course knew what was in store. On the starting line one rider summed it up best when he said, "The forecast calls for pain."

The start was on grass and only went thirty meters (are you noting my liberal use of the metric system? Viva la France!) and then a sweeping right hander and fifty meters more brought a one-eighty also to the right.  This was so much better than a longer straight where you could really be moving when you crashed...

We strung out and soon we were on the run up.  I usually do well on run ups but I didn't gain ground like I typically do. This was the biggest run up of the season and I was glad to reach the top every time. Following the climb we had single track where you held your spot and prayed nobody in front of you crashed.

Then we made our way down a slippery curvy downhill. This was the part of the course that separated the riders with awesome tires and brakes from those who were forced to rely only on talent, bike handling skills and training.  Evo stayed upright and let it fly. Then near the bottom I grabbed a handful every lap and then it was onto the mud museum.
Yeah, I'm tripoding, but I had just passed this poor guy and crashing would have been in poor taste.

First up was dry cloddy mud with deep tracks. Then a brief respite followed by marshy grassy mud bog that led to the Portland PIR-like slop that sucked your strength as your momentum died its slow death.  Then you hit some tacky cream cheese-like mud that let you get some traction without sinking too deep.

Then you hit a short grass section followed by a dicey loose uphill with babyheads and loose dirt leading to a sustained climb that drained the life out of your dying legs.  Once you're spent, how about a downhill slalom around trees to test your reflexes? Done !

Now onto an extended off camber that took down unsuspecting riders seemingly at random.  Then onto a short section of slick pave where you gained some speed only to scrub it as you entered the grassy chicane of pain.

When the going gets slick the slick get going !

The infield had a series of switchbacks that climbed and dropped up the side of a small rise no less than five times per lap. You could ride the first two (although even these claimed many a rider) and then the smart money was to dismount on the third unless you got a great line (more of a result of chance than skill) in which case you could ride one more before running. If you bogged and lost your momentum, you dismounted and started running. Accelerating from a stop in mud is as tough as it sounds.

I should have sprayed my frame with PAM !

After this they threw in four barriers followed my a long slog around the barns and then the return on the opposite side of the barns back to the starting line. Kind of a "who has any power left?" king of the mountain kind of game.

After the first lap I found myself ahead of El Jefe' and behind big John and I kept pushing. Traffic was thick as single speed riders were dropping (back) like flies and we were working our way through the pack.

I kept plugging away and I was moving up.  El Jefe nearly caught me and we hit some traffic and I took a crappy line and then a stall/crash split us and I went right and El Jefe went left. He was forced into a chain link fence which he hit making an awful sound. He dropped a chain, but said he was okay. I slogged onward and soon I had Spinner John in my sights.

In the words of the race announcer, this was a cyclocross race and not a pickle fight, so I drilled it. Spinner John had started a minute ahead of my in the single speed race and when I passed him he was his usual vocal self.  I let him know I was passing. "On your left, John," I said, trying not to gasp.  Then I could hear him for half a lap. "Damn....On your..Whoa...sorry..Oh crap!" I braced for the excuses that he would be offering after the race.

The laps ticked by and we battled on.  All too soon we finished the day and slumped over our bars.

Once again Tux was a wonder dog and we were glad he came along.

After a muddy epic I can't help but sing the praises for Lizardskins bar tape. It was sticky in the race and washed up clean as a whistle with water and a quick pass of the brush at days end. My eggbeater pedals are still the best. I passed a rider who was kicking his pedals to try and chase out some mud so he could clip in. "Crank Brothers" was all I said as I rode past.  Toe spikes were required this day.  My Limus tire kept me moving forward at all times.

With the end of daylight savings time I was cleaning my bike in my driveway in the dark. I lubed the chain and hung it back in the garage.  Cyclocross laundry followed (hose down the clothes in the driveway, then spray them with stain remover, into the wash with an extra rinse cycle and repeat individual steps as necessary) and then a welcomed hot shower.

The day was fun, and while Hottie and I are having fun, this has been a long season and we won't cry when the last race is done.

No comments: