Tuesday, January 24

Winter Shart Tarck '23: Race One

I'm fitting to do a combined Pre-Dumble Post/Post-Dumble Post (or would that be Post-Pre-Dumble Post/Post-Dumble Post?) to follow up later, but I'm gonna get straight to the race.  

I spent the whole week before the race fretting the weather.  The forecast never really budged all that much.  Rain.  Cold.  All day long.  I'm no stranger to bad weather, and I tend to do rather well in poor conditions, but that said, I'm kinda tired of voluntarily riding in shit.  I have to get to work regardless of what I see when I look out my front window at 8:20AM.  I've got nowhere else to go but home when I get off work at 5:00PM.  If something needs filed at the courthouse and the heaviest rain of the day is falling, I go out in it to play in the wet streets.  I've been commuting by bike since attending Youngstown State back in the late '80s.

Like I said, I'm tired.  Of shit.  I have to deal with it to have my jerhb, so choosing to be in it recreational is now beyond the pale.

But I do have another problem.  Knowing that others will nut up and be there, I've got a certain personal issue.

I have all the right gear.  It's just a matter of picking the proper attire for whatever might be happening for those exact forty minutes on a Sunday...

So I spent most of the week focused on that.

Not to spoil the future Dumbles, this pile took much scrutiny and way too much time to collect.

All my fault, but Dr Mike and I are at the venue way too early.  What can I say?  If you're not ten minutes early, you're late... give or take an hour.  We take the time to walk some of the course, and it looks like it's holding up well enough after the first two hours or so of racing action.  There's some mud here and there, but there's also a sweet blue groove forming in most of the crush 'n run'ed sections.  I should be fine.  Just fine.

Settle on my clothing selection, do the dumb circles in the parking lot that we call "warming up," remember that I left a gel in the car when I feel my stomach rumble, stop, choke it down, ride more circles, see another gel someone dropped on the pavement, pick it up on the next lap, eat it.  Why not?  BTW Mandarin orange?  Da fuq buys that? 

Line up at the front and whaddaya know?  Single speed has the largest field of the day.  Twenty six riders strong.  Plus side is that it will be easier to bleed into the anonymity of mid-pack life, downside is the potential chaos of the first lap jitters in a group that bloated. We start, and I miss my pedal once, twice... get it on the third time.  I lose the wheels of the wanna-go-fasts but end up far enough off the back of them to have a decent line of sight going into the...


The previous hour had seen thirty eight riders putting down as many as five laps a piece, and the course has deteriorated immensely under those three hundred and fifty or so wheels.  The steep, grassy slope down to the gravel road below is littered with muddy ruts.  The line I'd ridden just a week ago is hundreds of two inch criss-crossed ditches.  Hit the gravel at the bottom, keep the gap to the front the same... with a bunch of very enthusiastic riders coming around me.  The next turn off to the right...

Double Jeebus.

I find myself riding across a lake of butterscotch pudding.  My 2.4 Aspen/2.1 Race is not the choice (obvs, save that for the Dumbles).  To be honest, it doesn't look like anyone is having a good go at it.  I can see the pointy end of the field getting jammed up as riders are off their bikes, both running and also falling.  Gonna be a great day in the woods.

I'm further back than I really wanna be, but on the two dick-puncher climbs, I can see that I'll be moving up when I can.  


Three laps in, and my brakes let me know that they are not long for this world (more to Dumble later).  Not only am I dealing with pretty much the worst tire combo for the conditions, I now have to use my brakes sparingly.  No, I don't know what that means or how to do it.  My game plan now is to just survive and stay upright.  Live to fight another day and all that.

What a 53 year old (54 racing age?) man looks like the third time he hits 186BPM.

Lap four and I'm moving up in the single speed field, and now I've acquired my next target.  Once I get outta the woods and around the 50+ guy in front of me, I'll pass him on the last climb with one lap to go.  Only problem being that I closed the gap on the 50+'er in the woods, and I'm right on his wheel going into the whoopty descent... and I can't slow down.  Unable to delay my forward progress, I tag his rear end and lose it off the side of the trail (to the delight of the heckle pit).

Dammit.  Get up, spin the bars back, wave to the adoring fans, do a two second health assessment, and get rolling again.  

Get to the climb... my potential target is gone.  Look over my shoulder, and Shawn is about to pass me.  Dammit.  He gets me, but not wanting to just give in, I pass him back on the penultimate climb, and  hold on for...


My favorite place outside of 1st, 2nd, 3rd... and always better than 4th.

Spoke Easy teammate Nick took the W.  The top three were all doping with cyclocross fitness, and Chase thirded himself on a noodle bar bike.  Also notable in the picture, the difference between winning two minutes ago and being absolutely gassed as well as fender VS fenderless in the mud.

Prepare for the oncoming Dumbling.

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