Second race from an SS n00b- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Second race from an SS n00b

    Hey SSer's, thought I'd post my race report since this forum is so bloody dreadful.

    I've just recently started doing mountain bike races, and for my first race (the Root66 "Bikes for Bovines" race) I had to take my Monocog Flight since my geared squishy bike was down with seized brake calipers. I'd been doing a fair bit of riding on it, so I wasn't too worried and basically set my goals as #1 Finish! and #2 Beat someone! I accomplished both goals, and learned a good bit about racing in general, and racing an SS in particular. (hint: Don't try to kill that first long climb even if you know you can! I redlined about 6 minutes into the race. :hammer

    Coming into my second race, the Treasure Valley Rally with EFTA, I planned things a little better. I was warned by many that the location for this race is notoriously rocky, to the point that many advised that a full suspension bike was advisable over a hard tail, and planning to ride rigid was likely to get me committed to a home for the insane. I was waiting for my Reba to get back from getting rebuilt and upgraded, so I planned to take the geared squishy bike. A fun ride on that bike in advance of the race reminded me that it wasn't nearly as fun or rewarding to ride as the SS though, so I decided I'd take the Monocog again and hoped that the suspension fork would show up in time.

    The fork showed up on Friday, so I got it on the bike ASAP and took it out for a short ride to try to get the fork dialed in. Another ride on Saturday and I was pretty confident I had things working as good as my feeble skills would permit in the time allotted.

    Race day arrives, and I show up with time to spare. I leisurely get things ready, and even find someone with a screw driver and hammer which I used on the rear hub lock ring which had recently developed a habit of loosening up. Water (3L of it, n00b mistake #1!), Gu, air, I'm all set. Racer's meeting is held, and I know that the SS group is going to start right after the Elite riders. I get into line at the start, and at the 15 second warning realize that I had not started Strava on my phone yet. n00b mistake #2! I choose to not start it, and decide to do that on the first long hill that I have to hike.

    Race starts and I do a much better job pacing myself this time. I drop in behind a rider that seems to be going my pace on the climbs, content to sit in the DFL spot for the time being. I was worried about the 20 mile race distance, as I had never covered that much distance in a single ride. As we hit some flat sections, I realized that the rider I had dropped in behind was a bit slower on the flats then I was, but was maintaining speed on the climbs better. Concluding that he had geared his bike lower, I decided I wouldn't let him hold me back on the flats and a short while later I passed him. Good timing on my part too, as just after I passed him we left the double track fire road we had been on and entered the narrow single track.

    The warnings I had received about how gnarly this course was were probably understatements. The rock gardens at this place were epic compared to what I was used to, and I was used to riding through some pretty nasty rock gardens! Many of these rock gardens were walked by every rider that I saw, including myself. Some I could have ridden through, but the energy required to do so was not worth it, nor was the risk of dumping the bike. So I walked. I also walked some of the longer climbs, deciding that avoiding redlining was better than an extra .5mph up the hill. If you weren't in a rock garden, you were scrabbling over tree roots that stuck out of the ground 6-8" high. As a result, I saw a LOT of guys on the side of the trail fixing flat tires.

    About 5-5.5 miles in, the Expert riders start passing us. Then, "STOP!!! DO NOT CONTINUE ON IF YOU'RE ALLERGIC TO BEE STINGS!!!!!!!". What new form of hell is this? As I come around a corner I see bikes scattered around, and riders walking back up the hill towards me, yelling at me to stop. Turns out, there is a bee's nest right next to the trail, and some poor unfortunate soul has fallen into it, maddening the whole nest. His bike is still in the middle of the trail, and he is nowhere to be seen. Anyone who tries to ride by is getting stung multiple times. I can hear them screaming each time they are stung as they forge on.

    I decide that there isn't any way on earth I'm going to risk getting stung. I'm hear for the fun and challenge, and knowingly going into a situation where I WILL get stung, and likely more than once, is decidedly NOT fun. A group of us are standing around, trying to figure out what to do when someone calls out to "GO THIS WAY!". We do, hop back on and start riding. (n00b mistake #3....) As it turns out, we've rejoined the trail about 1.5 miles from the start. Others in the group realized the mistake and turned back, but they had already dropped me at that point and I wasn't smart enough to realize that I was already riding stuff a 2nd time without having passed the start/finish yet. I forge on through what seems to me to be the longest 10 miles EVER before getting back to the bees. A proper detour is setup at this point, and I ride by without getting stung, but at this point I realize my mistake.

    I complete my first "lap" and start my second, beating myself up for making such a dumb mistake. As I get to the place where I rejoined though, I hear the race officials directing people through the new detour. I know that there is no way I'll physically be able to push on and ride the section of trail I've already ridden twice, so I cut over to the race officials, explain what happened and ask if I should continue on or cut over to the section I missed on my first lap and complete it that way. They suggest I cut over, so I do, and complete the race.

    I'm confident that my time will be disqualified, as my first lap was about 2:20 while the second was only about :35. I'm fine with that as I know I made a mistake and did not ride the race as prescribed. My only goals were to complete the race distance and beat someone. I'm pretty sure I beat someone as the guy I passed early on was clearly much slower than I was. And I'm fairly confident I covered the full race distance. Regardless, I had fun and overcame a challenge that I wasn't sure I could overcome. My legs and lungs held up pretty good, but the abuse from the constant rock and root gardens wore out my upper body. The bike held up well, despite my hamfisted bike handling skills. I survived without flatting, and even though the lock ring started to loosen up again, it held to the end of the race.

  2. #2
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    lol...bees...who set up that course?

    Good read, and congrats for finishing.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  3. #3
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    Nice writeup and congrats for finishing. Doing this race on an SS in the SS category as a racing newbie is definitely a recipe for pain but you made it. You did, in fact, cover 2 full laps although out of order as you suspected. No worries, I don't know what ended up happening to your time though (since I don't know your name).

    As the race director, I take responsibility for the course--it's definitely a challenging mtb course. There was nothing we could have done to predict or prevent the bee situation though. I would have thought that any bees nests would have shown up when we came through the trail with leaf blowers and power brushcutters. Anyway, we quickly cut a new trail and installed a new bridge to route riders around the situation. Unfortunately there was some bad advice from bystanders telling racers where to go in the meantime, the situation was confusing and people were panicking.

    Anyway, I hope overall you enjoyed the challenge.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by icycle View Post
    Nice writeup and congrats for finishing. Doing this race on an SS in the SS category as a racing newbie is definitely a recipe for pain but you made it. You did, in fact, cover 2 full laps although out of order as you suspected. No worries, I don't know what ended up happening to your time though (since I don't know your name).

    As the race director, I take responsibility for the course--it's definitely a challenging mtb course. There was nothing we could have done to predict or prevent the bee situation though. I would have thought that any bees nests would have shown up when we came through the trail with leaf blowers and power brushcutters. Anyway, we quickly cut a new trail and installed a new bridge to route riders around the situation. Unfortunately there was some bad advice from bystanders telling racers where to go in the meantime, the situation was confusing and people were panicking.

    Anyway, I hope overall you enjoyed the challenge.
    By the time I got to where the bees were, all of the elite riders had made it through, all but 3 or 4 of the single speeders had made it through (I passed one or two who had flats already), and the front runners of the Expert group had made it through, all without incident. IMO, it was a fluke scenario that nobody could have foreseen, and I thought it was handled well. I take responsibility for my detour gaff. In the confusion and panic it's entirely possible I was given proper instruction and misunderstood where I was being told to go. No one to blame but myself. I'm happy I covered the full race distance though, even if it was a bit of a mixed up order! And now I know to be a bit more careful with my detouring if this unfortunate situation ever comes up again.

    Oh, and the other racers I encountered were all very friendly and courteous out on the trails. A lot of places were too narrow to pass and I was clearly holding the rider behind me up, but they were patient as I looked for a wide enough place to pull aside and let them by. They all said thanks and wished me luck on my race. Great group of riders!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by solo-x View Post
    Oh, and the other racers I encountered were all very friendly and courteous out on the trails. A lot of places were too narrow to pass and I was clearly holding the rider behind me up, but they were patient as I looked for a wide enough place to pull aside and let them by. They all said thanks and wished me luck on my race. Great group of riders!
    Back when I used to race a bit, I remember that the EFTA races had a lower key vibe to them with more friendliness than the NORBA/USAC races. But that was back then, not sure how it is now. Glad people were courteous and friendly out there.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by icycle View Post
    Back when I used to race a bit, I remember that the EFTA races had a lower key vibe to them with more friendliness than the NORBA/USAC races. But that was back then, not sure how it is now. Glad people were courteous and friendly out there.

    I think they're still a bit more laid back (but not less competetive). Personally, I love the TRV course. I was in the SS field as well: Treasure Valley Rally 2012 Single-Speed Slogging

  7. #7
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    Nice job dude! I can't wrap my brain around the pace that you front runners are able to sustain. I caught up with whoever rides the silver Niner with the carbon fork when he had to stop for a flat. I followed him a for a little bit (until the first climb where he dropped me like a bad habit) and realized I have a good ways to go with both my bike handling skills as well as my fitness level.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob View Post
    lol...bees...who set up that course?
    Often bees and hornets are quite happy to let you do whatever you want nearby, so long as their nest isn't disturbed. I've run a brush cutter literally right underneath a bald faced hornet's nest without us noticing each other. It's when you disturb the nest itself they get angry. In my case it was my friend behind me lopping off a branch and having it swing into the nest. The bees/hornets would have gone completely unnoticed during the race if not for the unlucky rider crashing right into the nest.

  9. #9
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    Good read. I did my very first race this year on a very muddy couse July 1. It was the Cascade Cream Puff 100 and I did it on a Single Speed. Very fun ride.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by solo-x View Post
    Nice job dude! I can't wrap my brain around the pace that you front runners are able to sustain. I caught up with whoever rides the silver Niner with the carbon fork when he had to stop for a flat. I followed him a for a little bit (until the first climb where he dropped me like a bad habit) and realized I have a good ways to go with both my bike handling skills as well as my fitness level.
    The fitness and bike handling skills come with time. Starting off in the single-speed cat. is far from easy - being "open" it is essentially an Expert/cat. 1 level race. Good job sticking with it to the finish.

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