An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Snake ride to a DNF

So today I did a mountain bike race. Sort of.

This race was put on by my friends at BuDu Racing ( The weather was cold but clear. My wife was working at the race (as an employee of BuDu Racing), and it only took a little encouragement for me to decide to toe the start line.

My mountain bike is low tech. REALLY low tech. The frame is a non-badged Nishiki Alien that I got on eBay for $2.25 plus $30 shipping, and a rigid fork for another $6. The rest was pieced together from parts I had on hand from past bikes, and a few new parts I got on steep discounts. No suspension, Cantilever V-brakes (the rear brakes are nearly worthless). A handlebar made from a straight piece of frame tube plus a shim. Oh, and no derailleurs. It's a single speed with a Performance brand chain tensioner.

I entered the single speed class, which ran the same race as the Expert class. Meaning 3 laps. 18 miles. And to top it off, the single speeders went off 1 minute AHEAD of the Experts. So when the gun sounded, I waited a little and then took the following position. Oh, did I mention that I hadn't pre-ridden the course, and I'd never been there before? I had NO idea what the course was like. My friend thought that my gearing was fine, and it was described as "no steep hills, and a few roots here and there".

So within a half mile, we hit the single track. And the roots. And the mud. And the turns. I don't think there was 10 yards that didn't have some combination of mud, roots, 12-inch wide log bridges, or a 90-degree turn (or more).

Then the experts came up behind us. I jumped off the track to let groups by. I ran off the trail from missing a turn more than once. I hugged a tree. I bit it because I could unclip fast enough on the steep pitches.

And then the big hit came. A corner, wet roots at an angle to the trail... I tried to loft the front wheel, but no dice. The bike went sideways, and down I went hard onto my right elbow. Only fear of being run over got me up quickly. But it took me a bit to get going again. Aside from the elbow that felt like it was broken, my handlebars were sideways. I got that straightened out, started riding, and knew my race was over. No way I was going to last through another 15 miles of that. I rode easy to the finish area and called it a day.

If I'd ridden the course before hand, I don't think I would have even started. No way was I prepared for that. In fact, about 2 miles in I was thinking that it would be a great area to run... I may go back with the Trail Gloves instead of the MTB...

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