Another Non Racer Race Report
Racing the 30 mile Hanson Hills XC race last week got my shoulder feeling much better. Well, that combined with a series of stretches has it feeling much better. Being able to scrub my left arm pit in the shower pain free is pretty damn sweet, I must say! Racing virtually pain free is just a bonus.
With this new level of pain free living, I thought it would be a good idea to stuff myself back in my kit and do the 8 Hour of Cannonsburg. Not sure what I was thinking, other than I was tired of not racing or riding singletrack and figured I could kill two birds with one stone by doing the race.
Did a quick drive down, kitted up and got ready for the 10 a.m. start. It was going to be a hot one for sure with temps rising to the high 80s. I wasn't sure how my ever fattening body would react to the heat. It turns out I just sweat more and my face starts to resemble a baking Christmas ham.
I had never ridden at Cannonsburg before, so the first lap would serve as an introduction. All I knew was that each 5.5+ mile lap was mostly singletrack and there was a climb at the start of each lap.
For the race I was using my Salsa Ti El Mariachi with the newly installed Reba and Thudbuster seat post. I was also using a new bar. A MUCH wider bar. Like 3 inches wider.
Since I knew that I was out to "ride" rather than race, I positioned myself at the back of the Solos. I was really only
3,2,1 go!.... We started up the hill. We were all pretty together for most of the first lap. I really wasn't digging this since I was trying to scope out the trail and not being able to see in front of me was not all that helpful.
For some reason when we hit a long-ish gradual climb things started slowing down. For some reason people kept slamming on their brakes, going UP hill. What the fuck? It prompted the guy behind me to yell out "braking up hill, seriously!!!?" I felt like this was directed at me, and said "don't blame me dude, it's those guys in up front!" It sort of pisses me off when people yell out shit like that. I knew it wasn't at me and he said as much later, but it just doesn't seem helpful. Of course neither was the dud yelling "ON YOUR RIGH!" right at the top of the most technical climb in the race. But such is racing...
The lap went fast with a lot of twists, turns, little climbs, some really nice flowing singletrack sections and more sand that I was counting on. Sand is the nemesis of my shoulder. It just requires a lot of little muscle movements, etc., that causes some pain. I must say I was NOT happy with my bars. I felt like I was steering a ship not a bike. Not a fan.
Lap 1 was done and I was soon out on the climb again for lap 2. This lap was better and I was starting to settle in and have some fun riding in the woods. It was on this lap that I started to appreciate the Thudbuster. I really couldn't believe how well it was working. It was providing all the comfort of my FS bike but with the total and complete efficiency of hard tail. More on that later.
I wasn't thrilled with my bike handling or how I was doing on the singletrack, but the more I rode the better it got.
With lap 2 done I stopped at the xB to fill up my "mini" Camelback, take a swig of some Hammer Sustained Energy (not my normal choice) and head out again for lap 3.
Lap 3. Hmm... not sure what to say about lap 3. It was fine, the trail was the trail. Here's that turn, there's that turn, here's that sand pit, here's that climb, etc., I was having a mental moment. The whole thing just seemed stupid. I wasn't in contention, I was riding in the woods yeah, but the thought of riding this course for another 6+ hours pretty much alone just seemed dumb.
I completed my 3rd lap and sat on the back of the xB drinking some S.E. and grabbing a bite of bread (seriously, I was eating a plain piece of whole grain bread). I saw my iPhone and sent Wifey a text.
Me: This was a bad idea.
Wifey: You OK?
Me: Fine, just not having fun. If I can get my car out of here, I will probably be home early.
Wifey: You don't want to do that, plus I have the gigolos coming. Plus are you sure you want to quit?
Me: I'll probably do a few more.
Then I continued to just sit and stare at riders heading out for their laps. What the fuck is wrong with me?
I eventually headed back out for lap 4. I believe it was #4 that I used my granny to get up the steeper part of the first climb and heard my tire rub my chainstay. My Stan's wheel is way out of true.... AGAIN. BIG surprise. I swear I have had my Stan's rear wheel(s) repaired, fixed, replaced, and built in about 3 different bikes shops in 2 different states. Oh well, I guess it's back to the middle ring and hoping that the wheel doesn't explode later.
Testing the shoulder on the lop pile. Not sure why I look like I am
grunting out a fart. Note 40 year old honey-baked ham sized head.
It was also about this time that my right knee started hurting. A buddy of mine warned me to be prepared for some possible knee issues during the initial switch to the Thudbuster. The arc in which the saddle moves can monkey slightly with your bike position. It takes a few rides to get it dialed. An 8 hour race was probably not the place. So I started trying to use my left leg as my "good leg" and soft pedal with the right. Standing also helped and that was helped more by my use of the hardtail.
4 laps in and I am super tired of this course. Blah! I stop at the car for more water and staring off into space. My phone rings. It's a photo of B-Man at the start of the kid's race at the Tour de Mt. Plesant. And it says--
I really had fun at the Tour de Mt. Pleasant!
Sorry, got to go Jake (or dog) is being bad.
(B's the one looking at the camera with his nuggets riding the top tube).
OK, some extra motivation found.
I headed back out for laps 5 and 6. More of the same trail, the same aches, the same sand, the same pain.
As I came in from lap 6, Brent (the race promoter) announced that I won a set of Velocity 29er rims. Cool.
I spied some of the folks from Terry's Cycle, including my friend Chris, chilling under their tent, so I went and plopped my ass along side them. We were all sweaty, salt encrusted messes. With still more than 3 hours to go I was done. Just no motivation left.
I sat, hydrated, stared off into space again, longing for the days when I was younger, fitter, thinner and did not have what now seems to be an endless list of aches pains and body dis-functions.
I went out for another lap.
I rolled one more, just cruising along, trying not to dwell on the negatives. Trying not to think of the money I would have saved by not racing and just going out for "soul ride" in the woods
After lap 7 I stopped. I was mentally done. Plus I didn't want to make my knee worse.
My goal for the race was 10 to 12 laps. 7 is a far cry from that and pretty lame. I made some mistakes and I learned a bit...
A. I think I am done with racing solo at (short lap) endurance races. I thought this would be a good fit for me since if my shoulder did bother me I could rest it often. Turns out that for the most part (barring all the sand) the shoulder was great and I longed for longer lap or to be on a Duo team to keep my motivation up.
B. I should have cut my bars down before the race. I was convinced by others that I would dig a wider bar. I don't. I hate the way it steers. I will be cutting the bars ASAP.
C. The Thudbuster rocks (so far). There is no bouncing around or pogoing like I envision. But it is awesome to smooth out the trail. I'm thinking it could be just the ticket for many of the trails here in Michigan. A FS has it's advantages on the bikes handing in the roots and rocks, but for me it's mostly about comfort. Note: I ONLY have 2 rides and about 50 miles on it, so there is much more to ride. I also need to adjust that for/aft position to rid myself of the potential knee issues. I will say that my back did not hurt once during the race, but that could have been from frequent breaks.
D. I need new wheels. Going back to a heavier more reliable tubeless set up.
E. The Reba is good, but can feel a little harsh at its current air pressure. Need to make some adjustments.
F. While I was just doing the race for shits and giggles, it was still a mistake to try out a new fork, wider bars and a new seat post at an 8 hour race. It was also a mistake to not take a back up bike. It would have way better to approach the race like I was racing it not riding it. I know better, but it's hard to take yourself seriously when you look down and see your lycra clad gut sticking out.
But hey, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday.