Monday, May 17, 2010

running vs. riding: the glocester grind.

The last time i raced in Glocester, RI it was wet. Really wet. Flooded. And under all that water were head-sized rocks, usually in places you very much needed to ride through. I spent a great deal of time sitting in this water, often on one of those very rocks, wondering on what side of the trail I should start looking for my bike.

This year it was mercifully dry. And by mercifully dry I mean "not flooded". I am nearly certain that these trails do not dry out entirely regardless of rainfall. I drove down with the rmm and Caitlin (who generously donated time she could have spent studying invertebrates to handing out water bottles to two mikes and a colin), arriving early to assess the state of the trails. Once a year, the owner of the land (a motocross racer, if I am not mistaken) allows a few hundred goofy mountain bikers to race in his backyard. For this we are eternally grateful. Because wet, dry or otherwise, this is a course that separates trail riders from mere xc racers.

The route was technical, though the stated distance was a bit misleading: bikereg said 18 miles, and we were told 3 laps at the (very informal) start, but when i was coming up on the middle of lap 2 my 705 (oh yeah, Im THAT guy) said 12 miles. That was a shock because I was pushing pretty hard after a few hangups and a nice hard crash and didnt really believe I had another 6 miles in me. but im getting ahead of myself.

As I said, the start was informal: there was no whistle, just a dude that said "go" after telling us that we would be off soon. Not a complaint - I kind of liked how the race was run: Grassroots racing at its finest. My one nit to be picked is how they did not honor my USAC license. I feel like the EFTA races I did last year never required me to buy a "one day" local license to supplement the national one I already purchased. Not that I am sweating the 4 dollars or wouldnt want them to be able to sustain their events, but the "license" thing is kind of horseshit. I have a racing license. I have to buy a national road, mtb and cross license, in addition to a UCI license (if I am to get mercilessly lapped at UCI events this fall). I feel like this needlessly nickel and dimes the racers: if your organization needs to raise fees to sustain itself, just putting the 4 dollars toward registration would be fine. Buying ANOTHER license is kind of infuriating. But like I said, just a nit to be picked. I personally like the EFTA series, and combined with rt 66 (and independent events) we have something like 40 race weekends over the course of a season.

Now that I have lost almost all of my readers, the race itself went pretty well. Other than some jackass that cut across the course right in front of our holeshot and clipped my shoulder pretty good, there was way less carnage than I expected. I went in third wheel behind a bikebarn guy and a dude with a goatee (somehow still a phenomenon in mountain biking). Bikebarn snuck around the guy with the Alice in Chains facial hair and floored it. This did not really ring any alarm bells yet, though in retrospect it probably should have. He got a gap, and when I finally made it around Eddie Vedder I could barely see my quarry. I then got myself stuck behind a single speeder that was having some kind of drivetrain issue (!) and managed to crash myself out on a wide open section of trail. Good work.

All this time, I was redlining: bouncing off trees, mashing the pedals, not looking far enough ahead. Settle down, old man. After I went down, I took a few deep breaths. I started my actual race about 2 miles after I got into the woods. After my preride lap, RMM and I decided to use our well-honed cross skills instead of trying to ride the treacherous rock gardens. Not that they werent ride-able. They were just not race-able. I did the slippery cleat dance over mud, roots, piles of wet rocks and a few bushes (when I had to avoid the victims of the former). One thing I will say: passed riders definitely did their best to yield the trail - often with a word of encouragement, and that is much appreciated.

I rolled through my second lap in good shape, or, I was managing my bodies inevitable collapse very well. No crashes, a flawless bottle exchange, strong runs: if I could do entire races like that I could quite possibly get good at this whole racing thing. Sadly, that came to a crashing (pun intended) end somewhere at the beginning of lap 3. See, I felt like I was closing on Bikebarn. Then I looked at my computer, which led me to believe that I had another lap after this one. Shit. They said three laps, but they also said 18 miles. Looking back, I am doubly an idiot: first for strapping a 500 dollar piece of hardware to my handlebars at a brutally technical race, and second for believing anything it said. Its a mountain bike race, dummy. Just go fast.

I came through the feed zone before the finish and asked how many laps I had left. I heard the magic word "done" and promptly almost crashed into the tape, unclipping my left foot and executing the least graceful turn onto a finishing stretch in a long history of inglorious finishes. I got 2nd in my category and 3rd overall for cat 1s, experts, senior 2 men or whatever category I race in now. I talked with the guy that won the singlespeed class: he was great, though bikebarn was nowhere to be found. Apparently he put about a minute and thirty seconds into me - my foibles on the racecourse may not have mattered much after all - and was already washed up and playing with his kids by the time I finished.

money lol

I got interviewed by Colt from cyclingdirt afterwards. He threatened to be at the transylvania epic and will likely capture footage of the relentless abuse I will receive there.

Mike Wissell Post Glocester Grind | EFTA NECS #1 Glocester Grind on CyclingDirt

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1 comment:

  1. If your USAC license was ever good at an EFTA race, someone totally f'ed up. A USAC license is as good as a drivers license when it comes to proving you're covered by EFTA's insurance, which is the whole point of the either having a license or buying a 1-day.

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