I started this post Friday not knowing how my weekend would develop. Let's just say I called it.
After years of racing bikes, both on and off road, I've established a few unwritten rules to live by if you want to make it through a race weekend. Breaking any one of these rules can lead to either total race disaster or a pre-race day melt down. The two most important rules are:
1. NEVER, under any circumstances, make unnecessary changes to your race rig the week before a race, no matter how minor,
2. Pack your bag the day before, trying to pack your gear the day of a race will eventually catch up with you in the form of forgotten helmet, shoes or other must have implement of race day destruction.
Live by these rules and everything will usually run smoothly until the gun goes off, don't and you'll have a day like today. I usually live by rule #1 to a tee. There's nothing worse than treking to the bike shop on a Friday night looking for a part to make your bike ridable again. Thursday I decided I really needed to get the creaking out of my bottom bracket, easy enough. Use extracting tool to pull crank arms from BB, remove BB wil BB tool, clean, grease and replace parts in reverse order of removal, make sure it's all nce and tight when done. Easy right? Thread extracting tool into drive side crank arm and remove, check. Thread extracting tool into non-drive side crank arm and extract, WTF? Instead of the crank arm slipping effortlessly of of the BB axel, to my utter dismay the extracting tool is extracting the threads from my crank arm as it removes itself. This is NOT good. I try threading the tool back on but it's not lined up so it just keeps pushing itself out of the crank arm. I call up to Race Pace and fortunately Bork answers the call, he laughs as I explain my situation and tells me there is hope. So Friday I stop in for what takes all of 2 seconds for him to pop the (ruined) XT crank arm off.
Now I'm left to pretty much replace my drivetrain at this point since I don't have another set of XT or similar 5-arm cranks that will work with my now obsolete Surly Blowerdriver chainring guard/mount. So I'm left to putting a 5-arm XT spider on a set of XTR cranks w/o my trusty Blowerdriver since the XTR crank arm profile is to low and cannot be mounted on the Blowerdriver. This leaves me with a very different chain line so I need to move the cog on the rear wheel almost to the end of the cassette body. Still using my trusty Singleator, I get everything running with a nice straight chain line and go for a short spin with Thomas. Other than forgetting to tighten the cassette lock ring causing some chain slippage, life was good. I tightened everything up and went out yesterday with Bryan for another ride and she rode flawlessy.
Having put the race rig back together and overcoming sure disaster, I was primed and ready to rock the Expert SS class at Granogue today.
Fatmarc along with Tom McDaniel and crew put on an excellent event and found trails there I don't ever remember. I swear the trails they used on the last half of the course were freshly cut this week and they hauled in dump truck loads of rocks to spread on them.
However, I committed another cardinal sin and broke my second rule of racing. Instead of packing my bag last night after having a fine cook out dinner with Bryan, Jailene and Zoey, I opted for dessert and an early bed time. So this morning I grab a handful of bike clothes from the laundry room, throw them in my bag and we hit the road. Somewhere around the Ft. McHenry tunnel traveling up Rt. 95 I realized I forgot gloves. I would have rather forgotten my helmet as I did not look forward to the idea of racing 21 miles on a rigid SS with no gloves. I might as well grab the tires of Special Sauce at 80mph for the desired effect in a shorter amount of time.
As we're headed up 95, Bryan is searching through his bag and realizes some of his clothes are wet. After closer inspection, they smell of beer. A few seconds later I hear "Hmm, where did this beer come from?" He pulls out a half empty, yet still sealed, can of Old Milwaukee's Best Light. "This must be left over from 'cross season" he says. So to my luck Bryan has a spare set of gloves to lend me, however they're soaked in very stale beer. On the first lap I needed to wipe some sweat from my face and as I put my hand to my face the smell made me flash back to college and the stench of our apartment the morning after a keg party. I almost threw up as I tried to keep from riding off the trail into the woods.
The race was going well, even for having to hump up that bastard wall climb from the 'cross race. Can you tell I was happy to see it when I came around on the first lap?
For most of the first lap I was following Buddy the Leg Breaker. I figured what better wheel to follow than the guy who helped put the course together? As I ran past him on one little climb, he laughs and says, "I love to see guys run, the hardest part is still to come." No shit. Like I said, those were some of the fastest, loosest trails I've been on in a while and the only section of the course that never really dried out from last nights rain making them even more sketchy.
The race was going well, except for the fact that I was kicking myself for not swapping the 16T cog out for something a little more humane, like the pimpy 17T Chris King stainless steel cog I picked up at Race Pace on Thursday, until at the start of the third lap my trusty (I'm going to stop calling it that now) Singleator took a shit on me. After the log bridge and nasty root section I was out of the saddle punching a little climb when I almost summer saulted my bike. Somehow the spring tension on the Singleator gave out and the chain was skipping on the rear cog under load. There was a guy working the race and he gave me a 5mm to try and fix it but as I took off, the chain started skipping again. I ended up having to call it a day.