Sunday, August 06, 2006

Darkhorse 40

Had a week to recover from the 101. Went out on the road bike Wednesday morning and realized my legs were still sore (every incline hurt). I ran a 1.78:1 (32x18) at the 101 and at the recent H2H series race in Stewart Forest (Newburgh NY). That gearing cost me a good race in Stewart Forest. Little did I realize at the time the course was realtively flat. So, the search began for a 16tooth rear cog on Thursday. That will net me a 2:1 ratio. After digging through a few boxes of bike parts I found one off an old cassette. Fixed my brakes and set up the trusty SS for this weekend's Darkhorse 40 (a 40mile race in Stewart Forest).

Friday I tested my legs with this new gear ratio (its been months since I've ridden anything close to a 2:1) up at West Hartford's reservoir. The climb up Albany Ave hurt but I eventually got used to the gearing. After tooling around the reservoir, nice and easy, for 2.5hours I pedaled over to starbucks for some more water and then back home. Felt great. Whoa hoo. Legs are recovered. I forgot how much faster you can spin out a 2:1. I'd like to stick with this gearing for the Shenandoah Mountain 100 on Labor Day but we'll see how things go.

Slept and rested all day Saturday.

5:30am Sunday. Time to get up, eat some oatmeal, take Omega for a walk and head on over to Newburgh NY. Race starts promptly at 9am. I arrived around 8 and had plenty of time to shell out $55 for registration (ouch), change and warm up a bit. The course was a 2 lap - 20miles/lap race on fast, dry singletrack and some gravel roads. Here's a map of the course.

We had a lemans start... ala bikes scattered across the gravel road and us riders a few 100 feet behind them. The gun went off and we ran to our bikes and took off. I got a good start and was sitting top 10/20 out of all the Expert riders. Actually was 1st singlespeed. First couple miles were fast, gravel doubletrack. I tucked in on this long line of geared riders drafting them. We went through some singletrack and back onto the gravel road. Then the road went up at what was probably the longest climb out of the whole race (maybe 50 to 100ft?). Just before that climb I was passed by another SSr, Andrew from NYC Velo. He's fast and I knew I couldn't match his pace so I kept trucking at my pace. At the top of that climb was the finish line but we would be making a right into more fast singletrack.

The first 10miles of lap 1 sucked. I was stuck with all these geared riders that wouldn't let it hang out in the turns so I kept having to slamm on my brakes and lose my momentium. Then on a few short climbs they would slow down so I began yelling at them to keep pace whilst ringing my bell in annoyance. Eventually everyone dispersed and I was left setting pace with another SSr behind me, Mike? from northern NJ on a fully rigid Vicious (yeah!). That brought me in 3rd place and Mike(I'll assume that's his name) in 4th. I set pace for another 5miles and then he took off with 5miles left to go in lap 1. I tried to keep up with him but it was hurting me so I backed off. Felt strong climbing up to start lap 2 (passing what would be the finish) now probably 20miles into the race. Both water bottles were now empty so I ditched them and relied on my 50oz of Accelerade in my camelbag to get me through another 20miles.

Now I was all alone and could ride at my own pace and fly through the turns. I was more fluent on the 2nd lap and felt like I was keeping a more consistent pace, albeit slightly slower than lap 1. Taking some electrolyte pills every 45mins or so to help resist cramping (they are amazing). I'd say about 2/3 through lap 2 I ran out of water. Schit... I was thinking that was my demise. I'd lose strength and slow to a crawl. Then everyone would pass me. Somehow my legs felt decent so I mustered on at the same pace.

About 1/4 mile later I thought I was going to DNF on a mechanical. dropped a chain. yeah that wouldn't make me DNF but as I was putting the chain back on I saw a spoke on the ground.. A spoke that matched my low spoke count wheels. F (with a capital). Did I break a spoke? If so then my wheel would rub the frame and I'm done for. A quick check revealed all is good. Must have been someone else's wheel. I got back on and took off. No rub. Good! (meanwhile about 4 geared riders passed me. Still no SS so I'm cool hanging in what I thought was 5th)

Kept on trucking. Came up on Ed Burgess who normally rides SS but went geared and was hating every minute of it (bent derailleur). He let me finish his bottle of Heed for I was thirsty and needed the electrolytes. Then I dropped the chain again. Doh. Should I readjust the chain tension and risk losing more time to whomever is the next SSr behind me (I had no idea how far back they were) or shall I muster on? I mustered on hoping I wouldn't drop a chain.

Last aid station. 5 miles remaining to the finish. I stopped, downed a water, gatorade and took my chances with a Red Bull. Then said bye to Ed and took off for the finish. Still no SSr insight behind me. Ride smart Doug. I flew through that singletrack with no chain drop and made a left onto the gravel road. Locked the fork out, stood up, and kept on pedaling up the hill. I wasn't exactly "dancing on the pedals" as Phil Ligget would say, but merely slouched way over the handlebars doing what Tim and I call "the worm"... The 'worm' entails with each upward pedal stroke the handlebars swayed in one direction. From behind it looks like a worm zig zagging in a straight line. yay! Finish line and my legs were good (no cramping).

Aparently there was one more SSr infront of me that I didn't know about so I finished 6th out of 19 total singlespeeders. 3hours 22minutes for 40miles. Fast course, huh?. Next SSr behind me was 8 to 10minutes and I was about 5minutes off of 5th place.

Drank some more gatorade and then headed off to the car to clean up. Afterwards I joined the big bbq for some pasta, salad an a huge wing of chicken. Chatted to Craig (my team manager) about things at Vicous. Carl (owner) is out in Oregon right now so Craig is holding down the fort. Pleaded him for full zip jerseys (as opposed to these 3/4 zips we now have) and good bib shorts (seeing as we're all out and I never got any) for next season since Carl is doing another run of clothing. He also wasn't sure if we're changing the team colors for next year seeing as Carl is on the fence about it (he wants a color combo no one has). I told him the metallic purple and yellow (current colors) really stands out. Its also starting to grow on me.

I'm finally getting my legs back. It has been a slow start to the season with some ups (June's national races) and downs (April / May). Got two races in CT this month and then my next 100miler in early Sept. the Vermont 50 (hoping for a top 10 SS finish) in late Sept and the All-A-Muchy 50k (want to beat my 3 SS finish from last year) in late October with some other shorter races in-between.


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