Yesterday, at least I think it was yesterday, PFJ (PackFodder Jim) tells me casually on the phone that his race is at 11:45. "11:45?" Was he going to race the singlespeed category? Nope, he was stepping up to Master B's.
I mean, I thought about doing it later in the season after I have ridden myself into a little better shape. I wasn't thinking of doing anything but the Master C race today. He forced my hand. I wasn't going to let him go up there by himself leaving me behind. I raced Master B's the last Cross Crusade race last year and got pummeled. I suppose I could do that again without losing too much pride. I had thoughts that maybe I could keep up with him, but as it turned out, not so much of a chance.
Keeping a short story short, I decided to join him at the first Cross Crusade race of the season at Alpenrose. I wasn't like I was going to win the Master C class and maybe it would be a race with fewer people. I thought about just showing up at the race and not telling him before hand, but I caved and let the cat out of the bag last night about an hour after I first decided to give it a go.
Colin, our 13 month old, woke up at 4:30 this morning. Bridget was away with friends in Black Butte so I was on duty. Ugh. I didn't go to bed until midnight. Colin wouldn't go back to sleep until about 6:30 and then woke up again around 7. I had a headache and felt nauseated as soon as I got up. I almost didn't race. I was not feeling it.
I take off to the race a little before 10 and stop to get a sugar free Rockstar drink. I haven't had one of those since my 1L year in law school. I swore off those things, but I was desperate. It helped somewhat.
Saw PFJ at the race and shortly thereafter Marcelo came wincing by. His back was still out and he didn't even make it one lap before he had to pull off. By the sound of it the course was pretty close to what it was last year. It just wasn't as slick thankfully.
I pulled up the start with a favorable position. I was in the top 30 riders at the line out of 121. As the race started I felt OK, not great. PFJ passed me like I was standing still on the first lap...never saw him again during the race. On the second lap I started to feel better but I dropped my chain. Lots of guys passed me since we were all packed up. I don't know how many, but a lot. Conservatively there were at least 10 guys that went by. Lots of people had been passing me anyway, so I wasn't that concerned, though I was frustrated. I had a chain guard on the inside of the chain ring, but it had moved allowing enough space for a chain to slip down. Damn. I got back on the horse and took off.
Shortly after this I noticed a guy that looked a little huskier than the typical Master B racer, sort of like me. I figured I might be able to pull him back in. I did. Passed him and right after a turn and I realized it was a guy I knew. I won't name him here because I do bag on him a bit shortly. This particular fellow was a guy that last year gave me troubles in the Master C's. I beat him only once out of 4 or 5 tries. A month or two ago he was talking about how great his training was going and so on. Yawn....he tends to go on quite a bit about himself...which made me want to beat him even more. Self aggrandizing people bug me. Especially when we ain't pro's or anything. This guy used to be a mountain bike pro though, back in the 1990's. He's told those stories soooo many times...
Anyway...I pass him on the second lap. He noticed me and it must have lit a fire under his butt because he picked up the pace and passed me on the run up. I got the place back though about 200 yards later and kept distancing myself from him the rest of the race....well almost the rest of the race.
Somewhere around the middle of the race a guy went down right in front of me. I don't know why he went down. Maybe there was an especially evil blade of grass that his front wheel hit or something. I think both of us were equally surprised when he went down. I was right on his tail when it happened and I ended up stepping right on the spokes of his rear wheel and his pedal and front wheel went right into my leg and knee. I stayed upright though with only a dab or two needed to get rolling again. I would be surprised if his wheel is a bit wonky after that event.
I settled into a good rhythm with some guy of similar ability and I passed them and they would pass me back. It was a good give and take and despite the fact that I was in pain, that the bump course made my kidneys hurt, that the snot and sweat was dripping unencumbered by anything, I was having a good time. It sort of surprised me. I believe at this point I was probably near around 90th or so out of the 121 guys. I believe this to be the case because about 10 to 15 guys passed me when my chain again fell off right before the run up on the last lap. I was so ticked. I got to the top and tried to put it on. Thought I had it and got on the bike. Realized the there was nothing there. Coasted down the bottom of the hill to the entrance of the velodrome where the finish line was. Damn it...it would got back before the third try. Where was my friend? My friend that I wanted to crush? I didn't see him as I got back on the bike, but as I weaved through the course on the inside of the velodrome I saw him just a couple of guys back....I was elated that at the very least he would not be able to catch me. Despite some crappy luck I beat him. It really didn't matter than 114 other guys beat me, I knew that I beat someone and it was someone that had been the better man most of the time the year prior. So yes, 115th place out of 123 guys. I had thought I had done a little better overall, but with a couple of chain drops I shouldn't be surprised.
PFJ placed 71st. Nice job! Especially considering you had no top end with that singlespeed.
Tufo Cubus tires handled the off camber grassy stuff very well. I am very pleased with these tires so far. I believe that they probably don't roll quite as fast, but I am willing to take it for the surer footing.
Easton EC90SLX Wheels continue to be amazingly resilient. They feel so solid. I can't believe that they weigh 1100 grams or whatever. I can't imagine buying a different wheelset over this one no matter what the price.