Saturday, October 01, 2005

Vermont 50

Last year I thought a 50 mtb mile race was long until I did a few 25-30 mile mtb races this past year and my training rides increased to 3+ hours at a time. The 2005 Vermont 50 was looking promising.

I opted to leave the geared bike at home and race on the singlespeed. There is something about that bike I find intriguing. The pain of grinding up a hill? the simplicity of the bike? the fact that it is a hardtail versus my full suspension geared bike? Dunno, but its definitely something. I went with a 32x18 gear ratio as opposed to my typical ratio of 32x16 to help with some of the climbs. The course is predominately double track and fire roads
which lends well to setting a nice pace on a SS.

Woke up at 4am on Sunday to get ready. It was around 39degrees out and I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag. Shivering uncontrollably I made it to the start and we were off at 6:15. It was a good start. I was somewhere in the top 50 of the Expert field drafting the geared riders as we flew down the road and dirt roads for the first 10 or so miles. By mile 20 I had my rhythm and was setting a good pace for myself while munching on a bag of beef jerky and chex mix. Shortly beyond the 25mile aid station something happened. My chain was suddenly too long and kept falling off on bumpy terrain. WTF? This is a brand new chain and shouldn't stretch that much. My chain tension adjustment lies within the eccentric bottom bracket which allows me to use vertical dropouts and run a rear disk brake so I was essentially fucked seeing as I didn't have the tools to remove a crankarm
and readjust the bb.

It wasn't that bad so I shrugged it off and kept going. By the 37mile checkpoint I was still setting a pretty good time for myself. It took me around 4hours to get there which meant all things being equal I could have finished in under 5hours with a good working bike. By mile 40 the chain stretched out so far that I didn't have to take the rear wheel off to put it
back on. The chain then fell off on a narly descent. Oh well, keep on going as gravity is on my side here. That was a mistake. The chain was flying around smacking the wheel, chainstays and my pedals. That wound up putting a huge twist in the chain (see previous blog entry). Now the chain fell off anytime I was riding (pedaling, coasting, etc). I was so
close to the finish I couldn't DNF.

Running was my option. I ran with the bike through some amazing singletrack from mile 40 to around 46. So many slower riders were passing me that I got frustrated and hopped back on the bike. The rest of the race were some roads and the Ascutney ski resort trails. Despite me becoming extremely frustrated and the many times the chain fell off in the last 3 miles I crossed the finish line with the chain dragging on the ground behind me.

Finished in 6hrs 6min, 20th place for the singlespeed class and 250ish overall. Still shaved 3 minutes off my time from last year but came in well beyond my goal of a sub 5hour race. If I had no chain issues I would have finished 5th in the singlespeed class and top 50 overall.

Oh well. You win some and you lose some. The good news is I proved to myself I am competitive in longer races and that I can do well in the Wilderness 101 and Darkhorse 40 next year.

Until then. Enjoy your weekend!


Post a Comment

<< Home