Things that rock:
•The Chickasaw Trace race course. Kudos to the Columbia Cycling Club for developing and maintaining such an awesome trail system and race course.
•Electrical tape…..it can fix anything and leaves less residue than duct tape
•Hitting the woods with a gap on one of the pros in the field (who smoked you in a race last year)
•Psyching out the competition by cleaning a log hop when everyone else took the ride-around
•Feeling better on lap 2 than on lap 1
•Sitting in 5th place on the final lap with the 4th place rider in sight
Things that suck:
•Realizing during the pre-ride that your brand new chi-chi seatpost is a 26.8 and not a 27.2………one minute I was pedaling happily the next my knees were in my chest. (Enter the electrical tape)
•Dropping the chain to the inside……..3 times………in the first lap
•Getting the song “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” stuck in your head (especially when the title is the only line of the song you actually know)
•Pinch flats on the final lap
After a disappointing finish in my first race this season I was unenthused about the prospect of getting stomped again 2 weeks later, but the Chickasaw Trace Classic race in Columbia, TN was going to be the first opportunity for the SourceBURN Factory Team to race together this year.
Tyler (Mr. SourceBURN himself), Ed, Leesa (and her friend Brigid), and I all met up in Columbia, TN (just south of Nashville and near pretty much nothing but cows and a really stinky industrial park) on Saturday to pre-ride. From the course description I’d seen I feared that this would be another flat, fast course with short steep climbs. Not my forte. I guess it depends on the perspective of the person describing the course. The course was definitely fast but although there were some flat sections there were also a number of rocky, technical sections, and a big, long climb making up the better part of the 2nd half of the course. I was in love.
We finished our pre-ride, went back to our hotels to clean up and met up for a pre-race dinner & team bonding at what appeared to be the only resturant in all of Columbia: uh, something mexican. Then back to the hotel to flip through bike stuff catalogues and early bed time.
[SIZE=2]Ed ogling bike porn[/SIZE]
[SIZE=2]what do bikes do while we sleep?[/SIZE]
Tyler and Lisa were both racing Sport (scheduled to start at 10:30 & do 2 laps/18 miles) and Ed, Scooter (who came in late Saturday night, thus missing the team bonding dinner) and I were racing Expert (start time: 12:30, 3 laps/27 miles). Fortunately for all of us, Leesa had withstood our ‘are you psychotic’ stares the night before when she mentioned that getting up early would be easy since she was on east coast time. Apparently, she was the only one of us who was on the ball enough to realize that TN is on central time, and until she explained this we all thought she might need to contact her doctor to up her meds!
Ed, Scooter, & I entertained ourselves by sitting by the BURN van & handing out cold BURNs to anyone who wanted, handing bottles to Tyler & Lisa in the feed zone, and playing with my digital camera.
[SIZE=2]pretty cool glasses, eh?[/SIZE]
[SIZE=2]Men’s Sport starting line (that’s Tyler in the middle with the silver helmet & black jersey)[/SIZE]
[SIZE=2]1x1’ers line up[/SIZE]
[SIZE=2]Women’s Sport starting line (Leesa is in the red & white helmet grinning)[/SIZE]
[SIZE=2]does she ever stop smiling?! Go Leesa![/SIZE]
By noon it was more than just a little toasty out. The Expert races promised to be hot, sweaty, salt-wasting affairs. Ed’s group, Sr. Expert/Semi-pro/Pro, went off first and 40 guys big-ringed it through the field, around the trees, and up onto the fire road above the start. The noise that filtered down to us, “BZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz” sounded like a swarm of metal-on-metal bees. The next groups went off at 2 minute intervals until all that was left were Jr. Experts & Women’s Expert/Pro. The organizer at the line announced that they would be combining the Jr. & Women’s fields, which would have given us about 25 people (~15 women and ~10 juniors) but threatened mutiny from the women led to a change in plans and we started last, 2 minutes after the juniors.
Several of the girls wanted to reduce the number of laps from 3 to 2 but when the idea was vetoed by about ½ the field one of the proponents of 2 laps said, “Well, today is my baby’s 3rd birthday, so I guess riding 3 laps can’t hurt any more than what I was doing 3 years ago today!! And besides, if this hurts too much, I can always stop!”……..Bet, you guys never heard that comparison on any of your starting lines!
The air horn sounded and……….uh, where is my *&$%#$&* pedal?! Oh, there it is. My goal for the race was to stick as close to one of the pros who had dusted me in a race last year. Missing the pedal was not a good strategy to do this, but once clipped in I worked my way up from about 8th to around 4th or 5th……passing my pro “rabbit” in the process.
[SIZE=2]before the first single track (that’s my “rabbit” behind me)[/SIZE]
My first lap was brutal. A short technical climb had girls falling all over the place and we all ended up running. Back on our bikes, 2 girls had gone off the front and there were 3 of us packed wheel to wheel on the single track, pedaling hard and dodging trees. We passed each other when possible, but no one ever managed to get a gap for long. Out into an open field and back into the woods. I was 3rd in our little train of 3. We were coming up on a section with a large log across the trail that afforded both a log hop and a ride-around. I had practiced the log hop (I love hopping logs) in my preride and thought I might be able to get over the log fast enough to get ahead of the girl directly in front of me if both girls did the ride around. We rode up to the log, both girls in front took the trail around and I floated over the log. Unfortunately, it didn’t save me any time and I ended up back where I’d started but I did get a ‘you go girl!!’ from both of the girls in front.
We continued in our little train for a while longer until the girl in front suddenly slid out in a turn and landed hard. ‘You ok?!’ we said as we passed. She had bounced back up and was cursing – a true sign of health. We pedaled on. We hit a hill. I down shifted. CHRRRRRIRRRRRIRRRR! CHUNK! Arrrrgghhh! Chain off to the inside and chain suck. I had to get off my bike, pull the chain out from its new home between the chain ring and chainstay, get it back on the cog and back on the bike. I was now riding alone.
A little while later it happened again: CHRRRRRIRRRRRIRRRR! CHUNK! Arrrrgghhh! *bump* the girl behind me ran into me as I stopped dead, pedaling with no resistance. I pulled the chain out and back on again,as she ran past me. It was my “rabbit” and she was gone (she ended up 3rd). The chain slipped off one more time during that lap and the girl who had fallen earlier caught up to me. We rode wheel to wheel until it was my turn to go down in a turn and she passed me.
Back up and on my bike I went hard and caught up to the girl who had passed me. We finished the first lap and came through the transition & feed zone wheel to wheel. Heading out for our 2nd lap of 3, I’m right behind her. We go through the feed zone & I grab a new bottle. AHHHHH, cold water. The next thing I hear is people yelling ‘WRONG WAY! WRONG WAY!’ I had followed the girl in front of me and instead of going straight she had gone left back towards the start. DOH! We did a quick about-face and she turned to me & said, “Sorry about that. I was in ecstasy over cold water & wasn’t paying attention”
We hit the first short technical hill and she went down. We both scrambled and I got out front and for the next lap all I heard was what sounded like every spectator on the course yelling for her, “Go Robin!!” I wished my name was Robin. I dropped her on the flats. She caught me on the climbs. This was her home course and she knew every line. We caught up to the 4th place girl and came through the transition/feed zone 1, 2, 3, (or 4, 5, 6 as the case may be) to a chorous of “Go Robin!”s for our final lap.
We hit the short steep techinical climb for the last time. I cleaned it and was off. I heard Robin yelp. I kept going. I reminded myself to ride my own race. I was in 5th. I could see the girl in 4th. Out of the single track, onto the field. All my ‘field interval’ training has helped. I want to keep a little left in my legs in case I can catch the girl in 4th and it comes down to a final sprint. Back into the woods & single track. Along and above the creek. There’s a twinge in my right leg. Ow! No, no cramping! OW! Ok, maybe if I move my leg to her. No! maybe this way. OW! OW! Or if I stand up. Ahhh….better.
Coming up there’s a short, steep technical drop into the rocky creek bed and out over some more rocks and a big root. I drop in and hit the rocks at the bottom hard. By the time I’m up and over the root on the other side, seconds later, all I hear is *FWOP!* *FWOP!* *FWOP!* My back tire is flat. I’ve never flatted in a race before and it shows. That tube change must have been one of the most inept in mtb’ing history. I get the tire off the rim, the blown tube out, the new tube in, the tire back on the rim. I pull out my CO2. Robin passes by & says “Awww. So sorry girl!” I screw the nozzle onto the CO2 and put it over the valve stem. Nothing happens. More girls pass. One more time. This time I hear “pssffftt……..” and I get about 10 lbs of pressure into the tire but nothing more. I take it off & reposition it. Nothing. More girls pass and I know I’m done. I collect my things, put the back wheel back onto the bike and start the ¼ mile hike back to the finish area.
Although it’s a bummer that my race ended in a DNF, nevertheless I had a great race. I had fun & felt good.
Overall, the SourceBURN factory team had a good day. Congrats to Tyler on taking 3rd in Men’s Sport, to Leesa for a strong finish in Women’s Sport, Brigid for sticking it out in Women's Expert, and to Ed & Scooter for placing 4th and 5th, respectively, in Men’s Expert!
[SIZE=2]far left: Scooter & Ed…and the rest of the guys[/SIZE]
as always thanks to Tyler & SourceBURN Energy Drinks for the jersey, a great team, good company, and for not snoring; to Rick & Outback Bikes for getting my bike ready to race again this coming weekend; to Team 180's for the awesome sunglasses and support; and to Hayes Brakes for more stopping power than i'll ever need.
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