Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Six Hours of Wounded Ego

So yes, for those of you keeping score at home, I skipped my post last week. You'll be fine. I spared you 1000 words on how much I love Taylor Phinney. Not in a touchy, squeezy, is that your leg or mine sort of way of course. My love is based solely on his ability to make the U.S. a viable threat on the world track cycling scene. If you all checked Velonews like I told you to then you already know that Taylor won a second consecutive gold medal in the 4k pursuit at the world championships. Another year. Another amazing ride. Another win. The highlight of the event was a post race interview where he proclaimed that he is going to focus for the next two years on breaking the long standing world record. If that boy can break 4:11 we may finally see track cycling on the national news. Perhaps I'm dreaming but I'm good with that.

On to the reason you all come to this page. That's right, this was race weekend and that means self deprecating race analysis.

Yesterday was the second annual Six Hours of Warrior Creek and it could not have been a better day. The weather in Wilkesboro was spectacular. With 300 riders attending this sold out event there was was plenty of bike porn to go along with the natural scenery. I even brought a little of my own. No, my new bike has not arrived yet. The delivery date has unfortunately been pushed back. Apparently it takes a long time for little chinese children to carve 29" wheeled single speeds out of a solid block of aluminum with nothing but a paring knife. Even without a new bike to play with yesterday I did have a small but important piece of new equipment to unveil. I bought a space ship for my head! It landed on Friday and by Saturday morning was perched securely upon that oddly shaped thing on top of my neck. I'm afraid the landing occurred too quickly to be captured on film so you'll have to settle for the slightly less than dramatic Area 51 style photo below.

Do you believe?

As for the race itself only one thing can be said. I'm slow. Very slow. And I apparently weigh far more than the scale has been telling me. The 6WC course is fast and flowy with beautiful bermed turns and a well manicured trail surface. There was plenty of climbing to be had but not as much as the pain in my legs would suggest. The race started with a great deal of sunshine and smiles all around. Bicycles East had two riders in the single speed class so it was destined to be a very interesting day.

Despite how it may appear, we are not holding hands in this picture. And even if we were, who are you to judge us? Go back to Alabama and leave us alone!

With a pack 300 riders strong I came up with the brilliant plan to start at the back and let everybody else fight for position. If I ever suggest following this plan in the future, please punch me right in the mouth. I spent the better part of 12 miles apologizing for bumping the back tire of the riders in front of me. The course was tight and did not offer a great deal of passing opportunities. I mistakenly assumed that the riders on geared bikes would climb quickly. I was very very wrong. By the time I was nine miles in I was offering motivation to the riders in front me in the only way I know how. I yelled at them. They deserved it. If they didn't want to get yelled at they would learn to climb better.

The highlight of not only that lap but the entire race was when I rolled into the pit and found two random Michiganians rifling through my gear bag. They swore through pursed lips that they didn't take anything but I don't know if I trust them. They looked pretty shady to me. I've recounted all of my spare gear multiple times but I still feel something could be missing. If you see me on the side of the trail scratching my head over the loss of my pump you'll know who to blame.

I couldn't help but notice that they kept looking at my cooler and smiling. I'm willing to bet they spiked my bottles.

My second lap was a great deal more fun and reminded me of why I showed up in the first place. Out of the crowd with some room to run I had a great time. The course at Warrior Creek is fast and favors a rider who can carry their momentum instead of scrubbing their speed. I found myself behind a geared rider with shiny blue Hope hubs and decided I should make a friend. We spent about six miles together and moved quite quickly. I was pleased that he stayed off the brakes and let his bike do a little work. He eventually dropped me but not before wishing me well and pointing out the fact that it was nuts to ride a single speed. He's probably right but I'm better looking and at the end of the day that is all that really matters. That and winning of course. Until I stop finishing in the bottom 1/4 of my class I'll have to fall back on my looks.

A quick pit stop before lap three found me ravenously hungry. I had brought some sliced oranges that I anticipated would last all day but I housed those inside of two minutes and grabbed sandwich for good measure. At the time I didn't think much of it but my unusual hunger was a sign of things to come. My third lap was not meant to be my last but five miles in I hit a brick wall. Where it came from I have no idea but people really need to be more careful when they build those things. When assembled in the wrong location they can be a killer.

I limped around my third lap at a speed to slow to mention. My original plan was a four lap race with a stretch goal of five laps. Four laps would have put me in the middle of the pack where I belong. This time around it was not to be. The other Bicycles East rider was in the pits with my number one fan when the lap clock ticked 1:20 and I was scheduled to return. When 1:40 came around there was some shifting in the chairs. Once the 1:50 mark passed the worry set in. Only for those who have not been with me on such days was this occurrence something to warrant concern. I only race in two ways. On my good days I will turn obnoxiously consistent laps back to back and you can set your watch to them. On the bad days? Let's just say that when I blow up, I blow up big. I don't know how long that third lap took but I do know that when I hit mile 9 I knew my race was over. I said goodbye to my self esteem and hobbled my way back to the pit. So it goes.

All in all it was a great day. There is no better way to spend a Saturday than riding around the woods with your friends. Win or lose all that really matters is that we weren't sitting at home on the couch drinking beer, eating pork rinds, and watching golf. My legs may hurt. My ego may be bruised. But when I come to my final days I will never question why I do what I do. Now put down your computer and go ride your bike.

Feel free to frame this photo and hang it above your bed