October 25th, 2014
The race this day was a lot different from the last one. Last time we ran this course it was dry and there was just enough moisture to make it nice and tacky.
Today the rain made parts of the course into a derailleur eating soup. As it turns out, derailleur eating soup is not my ideal racing conditions. It’s not that I don’t like mud per se, it’s just that it seems to be more of a drag on my racing than on other racers.
With that in mind, I was prepared to suffer through the race but a mishap at the start put me even further behind than I would have been ohterwise.
I was lucky enough to get a first row callup. Apparently attendance at previous races counts because it sure wasn’t based on my stallar results. It also helped that a lot of the people who whould have been called up ahead of me did not show up that day.
In general I can start out in a higher gear and power to the front in a start. This time I did not take into account the slight uphill on the grassy start. When the start horn went off I realized I was in the wrong gear when everyone else starting going by me.
So much for a front row start.
To add insult to injury a guy came up on my right just as the course narrowed. He cut me off, then crashed immediately in front of me. He was slow to get his bike out of the way so I had to back up to untangle my bike from his, then go around him.
The rest of the field was long gone ahead of me but I put in the effort to try and catch on. I caught up to the back by the time we hit the stair run up, but came unhitched again in the thick mud.
One thing to take away from this experience is brake adjustment. I tend to have my brake pads set close to the rim for the improved stopping power. This is great for dry courses, but as soon as there is any mud I get a lot of scraping between the rim and the pads.
It’s probably taken me way too long internalize this, but that scraping is the sound of watts being wasted. I can’t help but wonder if part of my struggles on wet courses is due at least in part to having power sucked away by muddy brake track being in close contact with the brakes.
That’s definitely something to work with in the last two races coming up in January.
I need to give a special shout out to Pints & Cowbells racing team member and Earl’s Bike Shop partner Staci May, along with her group of cheering hecklers. Even though I was out there riding on my own for most of the race I looked forward to them whooping it up and having a good time cheering on riders out in the singletrack woods.