Yet Another Non Racer Race Report
I had no intention of racing the 2012 Lumberjack 100. A nagging injury sucked the last remaining shreds of race fitness out of my ever widening body. A few crap, semi pain free race performances and the fact that I never sold my entry made me think that I could at least ATTEMPT to
Even with no intentions of racing the LJ and most likely not finishing it, I was happy to be heading to Manistee, MI to hang out with my good friend Brad and his wife (currently carrying "Little Shmalz" #1). Sometimes there is more to racing than the race. Sometimes it's just an excuse to get together with friends.
In any of event, it was odd to be lining up on Udell Hills Road on Saturday morning with 400 or so other lycra clad bike geeks.
I could have cared less where I lined up and put my self right in the middle. The start siren sounded and I spun along watching racer after racer doing everything they could to get to the singletrack first so they could stand in line and wait. I just smiled and people watched. I also took the opportunity to catch up to a dude sporting a full XXC kit. I pulled up along side of him and thanked him for sporting the kit and supporting the mag. He in turn thanked me for doing the mag and my work. Win!
As expected there was a cattle line of racers entering the singletrack. "No big deal, we have alllll day" I thought. Soon enough there was a long train of us rolling buff, dusty, fun and dusty (did I say dusty??) Michigan singletrack. Good times.
Entering certain corners I was hearing a rubbing. "What the hell is that?" I thought. I pulled off when a space presented itself and checked things over. Wheel was fine, frame was fine, etc., Hmm.... Off I went. The rubbing continued.
Eventually I looked down and noticed that when I entered corners and off the gas the chain was bunching up, maybe due to the amount of dust and dirt that was now on the chain OR from some sort of free hub issue. Not sure. Either way I JUST wanted to get to the Aid Station at mile 17 to see if they had any chain lube. I made it and they didn't. Frig. While there I DID notice that my rear wheel was BARELY in the drop outs. Dear God that could have been bad. REAL BAD.
OK, now I just need my chain NOT to jam before the finish of Lap #1 of 3. I was doing OK with that, drinking a ton of water and taking in nutrition whenever I could. Even though I knew I had another 80 miles to go I allowed myself to think that I JUST might pull this off.
At about mile 25 of Lap #1 I saw the dude in front of me hit a 2 inch thick stick. It bounced, it rolled, I missed it with my front wheel, it careened into my rear wheel and brought me to a stop.
I looked down saw a stick the size of small club in my wheel and my derailleur hanging flaccid and useless like a 70 year old's penis just millimeters from the ground.
I always imagine that I will react violently and stupidly when shit like this happens. Sort of like when a bulldog chews an iPhone. But I never do. I guess I know that mechanicals, even catastrophic multi hundred dollar mechanicals are part of racing. I also know that while a torn and broken SRAM X.O derailleur sucks, there were plenty of other folks who's day would end due to heat exhaustion and broken bones.
C'est la vie.
At this point thought of turning the El Mariachi into a single speed entered my mind to get out of the woods. But for me that would take so long to do and cause so much grief I thought it better to just turn it into a $3,000 scooter.
Eventually I made it to a gravel road, as I walked along a Subaru sped towards me and slamed on the brakes in front of me. It was an EMT and LJ100 promoter Sir Rick Plite
"Are you the guy with the broken collar bone??"
"No, I'm the guy with the broken derailleur!"
"Get in and we'll go look for the other guy"
"WHHHHAT?? NOOO! Go find him, I'll keep walking if you have time later come get me!!"
"Cool, OK, stay on the road, we'll be back."
And with that they went off to find broken collar bone guy.
Another half mile or so of walking and scooting and Rick came speeding back. Collar Bone Guy could not be found. He went back into the singletrack. DOH!
So I threw the bike in the back of the Soob and hung on for my life as Rick drove 50 MPH on narrow forest roads back to the Start line.
I had lots of scenarios going through my head for how this day would go. From me standing in the woods taking video to me racing and bailing after 1 or 2 laps, to me finishing the whole fucking thing. A race ending mechanical was not on my list.
I walked up to Kristin (Brad's wife) said something about my bad luck, sat down and soon saw my friend Wayne walking in to the pit beside us having just DNFed due to having a suck day on the bike. Cool, someone to commiserated with.
We got cleaned up, which was no easy task due to the amount of dust, and then cracked a few PBRs. I then walked over to the Start/Finish to let them know that I was "officially" done. Cuss!
For the rest of the afternoon I shot a few pics, talked with Kristin and Wayne and supported Brad and other friends as best as I could from the seat of my camp chair.
I had no REAL plan to finish the race, but I had no REAL plan for a race ending mechanical. I just wanted to ride some singletrack and have few laughs. Which I guess I DID do. I just wish I wouldn't have cost me $500 in parts, hotels and race entries.
DNFs are part of racing. "You can't finish them all" Mike Simonson said to me after the race. Very true. I have to admit it would be nice to finish SOMETHING this year, or at least feel good about my performance.
There is still plenty of racing left in 2012, including a trip south to race the Hilly Billy Roubaix this coming Saturday. What could go wrong???
Lots... I'm SURE!