At the start, I saw Shey Lindner in the mix on his brakeless crabon machine. He was the one to watch. Although he was not in for the Omnium, I still wanted to give him a go in the fixed gear class XC race. He lined up conservatively, I lined up right at the front. As soon as they said go, I shot into the overall lead going down the paved road, mashing away at my 38X19.
That lasted all of thirty seconds. Then the big boys on their coasting machines came by. I clung on to a group of about seven guys, looked back, and saw that there was a huge separation. Into the first section of woods, Shey was not in sight. The other fixed gear riders (Dip n Spray, Chris, Lee, and Mike) were nowhere to be found.
I held my own much better than I thought I would, given the state of my head and condition of my body. A few miles into the trail system, I let The Gentle Ginger by, passed the guy on a cross bike, made another pass, and I was in a good place with another rider happy to ride my wheel.
Lap one over, no Shey, legs feeling something better than bad but worse than marginally okay.
Shortly into the second lap, I saw a g-out coming up, and could tell that I was gonna go in with my pedals mistimed. Doh. My inability to compensate for the compression combined with a wonky pedal stroke...
My chain dropped. Expletive muttered. I got the bike stopped, jumped off, and went to the business of walking the chain back onto the cog and ring. My wing man goes by... and then there's Shey. Another muttered expletive.
I made quick work of getting things sorted out, and I could still see Shey occasionally in front of me. Calm. Long way to go. Chase him hard after the lollipop section. Flying down a slightly chunky descent, hanging it out...
Fla-bam. Woop. Clang. Woop, woop, woop. Kerchunk. Skeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrtttt.
The chain had come off to the inside, down between the tire and the frame, down between the cog and the hubshell, wrapped around the hub, tied itself in knots. I stopped and watched as Shey disappeared. I looked at the Cracker Barrel puzzle in front of me. More expletives, though not just muttered this time.
The chain was looped on itself multiple times. Had I more patience, this would have not been a problem. Had I been at home, I woulda just busted out a chain breaker. Thirty seconds in, I wanted to toss my bike in the woods.
Carey Lowery goes by.
"Awwwww, man. You need anything?"
I held my anger in and just said "no."
I kept looking back on the trail for any of the others in the Omnium while I worked on my puzzle. Eventually, I was down to two loops, then one, then a normal chain. Walked it back on, and took off again. Maybe they will set up the beer shortcut on the lollipop that magically appeared last year. Maybe Shey's not a drinking man. Maybe I'll make my big move with a can of Coors.
At the lollipop... no beer. No shortcut. No strategery.
I started chasing Carey back down using her as a carrot to keep moving fast and then...
Off again. At least it wasn't all wrapped up. Quick stop, walk it back on, and go. A couple minutes later...
Expletives screamed. If this keeps up, I'm surely going to get passed. Fifteen minutes to go? Ten?
Walk the chain back on, think things through, come up with a plan. Instead of controlling the bike with the drive train, I opted to keep constant forward pressure on the chain by riding against the brake on the downhills. Slow, but it seemed to keep the chain from going wonky. I was never going to catch Shey now, so best to protect my overall interests and at least finish... which I did... minutes behind Shey.
Second in the XC helped me nab first in the Fixed Gear Omnium, so there's that.
photo cred: Kurt RamptonBig props to all the sponsors that kicked in prizes... Maxxis, Endless Bike Co, ESI, Pro Gold and all the others along with all the folks who kicked in for the big party (ahem, Terrapin). Many nice bags full of goodies, something to help hold my pants up...