Camp Hilbert

Chalk a “W” up for the away team. Raced the single speed class against the VA cup cakes (kidding, of course) down in Richmond on Sunday. I was a total train wreck in terms of skills. I crashed twice. Dropped my chain and spent an eternity it seemed getting it back on (note: getting a chain back on a single speed isn’t as easy as you might think, especially when its wedged between the spokes and rear cog). I was totally squirrelly the entire race which resulted in me smacking into trees, sliding out and having to over correct, thus jettisoning me into the woods to pick up more vegetative debris. This in turn resulted in 2 branches jammed in my rear wheel at separate times forcing me to dismount and dislodge said branches. You get the picture. I said at one point, out loud but to no one in particular, that I was a total hazard to myself and anyone around me, which was true. I guess my half dozen mountain bike rides this winter didn’t prepare my skills for racing too well. The fat tires I have on the 29’er are ok, but I didn’t drop the pressure enough either and on a rigid frame (i.e. no suspension, front or rear) this meant I was getting bounced all over. In turn this had the unfortunate result of ejecting 2 water bottle from my bike. That was all I had with me. I had one bottle cage on the bike and a water bottle in my back pocket. When I realized the first one was gone from the bike I decided to leave the other in my back pocket. However, when I took a sip I soon encountered a stretch of roots and given what I just told you about my not-so-magic-carpet-riding style, it seemed prudent to quickly holster the bottle. So I put it in the cage where the other had been. I cleared the roots and went to finish my drink and of course bottle #2 is now gone. F!!

Here’s the play-by-play:

Lap 1: The start – I decide to push it as long as I can to stay near the front because there isn’t much room to pass on this course without going into the trail side woods/debris/etc. A group of 5 of us quickly separates from the rest of the bunch (15-20?). It is clear that I am rusty and bumbling all over the trail, but I feel strong so I just sit on the rear of the group and try and follow their lines. The course is a bit slick from the rain in places and pretty rooty, but otherwise not really technical. Early on I am getting gapped when I slide out on roots and need to put a foot down to prevent smacking the ground with my face. So I do a lot of yo-yo’ing. Then I follow guy #4’s line through a patch of roots – he takes a bad line – I follow – he makes it – I crash. Stick in the rear wheel, chain pops off, I sit there for too long like an idiot trying to fix it and lose about 5 places. I chase back for about 10 minutes and pass the 5 that got by me. Near the end of the first lap I finally catch the lead 4 again. No sooner than I catch them and we pass some lap traffic then I hit my pedal on a root and start fish-tailing down the trail. I hit the jewels on the top tube, the seat violates me like its prison-time, and I lose contact with them again. I also lose bottle #2 at this point. I go through the start finish and catch them on the other side as we head out for lap number 2. Realizing that 12 more miles without water is going to cause major cramping issues I stop and beg for a water bottle from the crowd around the start/finish. After discussing whether I’d like water or gatorade and that the gatorade is “very strong” I kindly, but assertively, ask that this gentleman just give me ANYTHING. So, lap 2.

Lap 2: And I am chasing, again. About 1/4 way into the lap I pass #4 who has been popped and catch the lead 3. They see me coming, but don’t really react. So when I catch them I immediately went around #3 and planned to get around #2 and #1 and just take off. I figured at this point if I could catch on this many times (about 3 or 4) that they weren’t going too strong. But we hit lap traffic and sort of got into a trail ride pace rather than a race pace. Finally, #2 is wise to the fact that #1 is fading and pulls the right move – attacks and gets around #1 and takes off. Now there is rider #2 (was #1), a rider from another class stuck between us, me (#3), and then #4. I see the guy attack and think that’s it. That’s the race. But I couldn’t get around the other 2 ahead of me and had to watch as #1 just flew the coup. Eventually I get around the 2 riders in my way and give chase, but the lead guy now is gone. I felt strong so I just kept pushing for the rest of the lap.

Lap 3: More of the same. I was trying to be more efficient and not screw up too much and just stay heavy on the gas. Nearing the end of the lap, and race, I am resigned to taking 2nd and happy that with all my eff-ups I will still be on the podium. More importantly, I felt really strong and that bodes well for races to come. Then up the trail, son-of-a-bitch, there is the lead guy. We only have about a mile left, but much of it is single track so that gives me time to catch up. As I come up I am trying to be as stealth as a 6’3″ guy, riding a 29’er mtb the size of a small horse, can be. Taking wide lines to block the line of sight between him and I behind trees and so forth – pretty comical in hindsight. I catch up to him through some whoop-dee-doos, he looks back, but doesn’t realize its me – I think. At least he didn’t react like it was someone in his category. Then we head through the start finish area – out on along this double track. There is only about 1/4 left which includes a quick steep climb, steep, rooty descent, and then a quick steep climb to the finish line. We hit the double track and now he turns to see for sure who is sitting on his wheel. He realizes its me and steps on it. There was lapped rider on our left and as we went buy at full throttle I knew the race was to hit the steep climb first. So I attacked in between him and the lapped rider and got there just ahead of him. From there it was a matter of holding on down the descent and punching back up the other side. Face full of snot and drool I came across the line doing my best, feable attempt, at a sprint and take the W.

I was feeling strong and actually played my cards right for once when it mattered most. That was nice.

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~ by Indy on March 10, 2008.

4 Responses to “Camp Hilbert”

  1. sounds like a good day on the bike

    so it was race-able?

    I did not want to take the long drive and have to walk my bike

    am I sorry I missed it
    I am always sorry I missed it

  2. That sounds exactly like my race…except for the winning part and the feeling strong part. Plus I was on full suspension…It must have been the 120psi I was running.

  3. Holy mother of god – Mr. Mechanical strikes! Congratulations, that’s awesome. Well done.

  4. wait..that sounds like a sprint?? you CAN DO IT!! I told you honky boy!

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