Monday, August 2, 2010

NUE Stop #5 Wilderness 101

I rode strong for the first 50 miles. I was feeling good and and I could tell my form had improved since the last NUE race. I hung tough on the first couple climbs and even managed to muster out a couple of attacks. The course was dry and fast, and the weather was awesome! A huge group formed and didn't whittle down till after aid #1 where I put in a good little effort on the climb.

Shortly after aid station #2, the road turns up for the hardest climb on the course. It starts out slow, then gradually gets steeper towards the top. It was down to 5 of us including Bishop, Schalk, Draugalis, Waite and me. I matched the pace set by Jeff Schalk up the lower slopes, but began to suffer. As we neared the top I had tailed off the back. I descended like a mad man and was able to bridge back up to the leaders. Bishop had suffered a flat on the descent, so that left only 4 of us. On the next climb, Nick Waite turned up the pace, and again I was off the back. Just as I crested the top of the climb, Bishop caught me. I thought, "great, the two of us can work together and bridge on the descent!"

All of a sudden I went from feeling great with a shot at the podium, to "how the hell am I gonna fix this?" Dented rim, two broken spokes and a flat tire, all in one swoop. "Dang, maybe I can fix this quick and press on for the top 10." Rider after rider passed me as I fumbled with how to get my bike working again. After my C02 blew up in my face I had to go into full on McGuyver mode. I have to thank Rob Lichtenwalner who stopped and gave me his pump.

I limped into to aid #3 and finally got my tire pumped up with enough air. I started getting back into the race and passed quite a few riders. Then on the following steep knarley descent in a moment of panic, I ran head on into a tree! I can't believe I didn't have a scratch on me. Too bad my front wheel was totally bent in half, as well as my tire. Greg Kuhn was with me. He gave me a tube and helped me fix the tire. We straightened out the rim with a little help from that same tree I ran into. Thanks Greg!

Wobble wobble wobble... the bike was riding very strange and I wasn't sure if one good lean into a corner would fold the whole bike in half. I went slow until I gained confidence the wheel would hold and got back on the gas again when I made it to the dirt rds. Just before aid #4, I suffered another flat. A cool dude on a single speed offered me up his tube, and again, Rob's pump saved the day.

I knew Mitch would be at aid #4 and it was going to be a little dis-heartening for her to see me struggling with mechanicals. She was a little upset at first and just shook her head. "All that effort you put into this and this kinda @#$% happens." I know exactly how she feels. I decide to press on and try to finish. I gained back a few spots and I had a chance to ride with Tom Parsens from the 29er crew which was cool. The last dirt rd climb of the day stung me pretty good. I was totally spent when I crossed the finish line... but I finished. 23rd overall and my best finishing time at W101 yet. Now if I can just figure out a plan with all these mechanicals.


Adam said...

tip #1 - the physics of light wheels are all in the mind. ride a stronger wheel set. benefits of a light wheel set are only noticed for long periods of climbing and its very minute.

tip #2 - cO2 is a good fast fix, but a poor fall back. ALWAYS take a pump as a back up. static weight in a race doesn't matter.

tip #3 - The bike is a screwed as it will ever be after a crash. Just ride it like it is disposable.

Sean said...

It is really hard to keep going, but good job on finishing. Sucks about the mechanicals.