The second installment of the Southern Classic MTB Race Series was far better for me than the first. As you may recall I ended last week with a bloody hand, two blown out legs and a partridge in a pear tree. How that bird got there I have no idea but now that he has set up camp I can't convince him to leave.
I credit most of my happiness in this week's race to my recent acquisition of a new pair of pedals. For longer than I can remember I have struggled with the comfort of my right foot. I replaced my beloved yet far from perfect Time ATAC pedals with a set of Crank Brothers Egg Beater 2 pedals last fall. I was motivated by their weight alone. Lighter than XTR at 1/4 the price was a hard deal to pass up. Unfortunately, I have never really enjoyed riding them and they have driven my right foot crazy. After some cleat engagement issues at the Danville VA race I decided it was time to revisit an old friend. This time I went way back. The Time pedals never made my right foot all that happy so I bought some shiny silver Shimano M540s. Behold them in all their glory!
I know you're excited but just think about baseball and you'll be fine.
I did not have time to ride after mounting them to my bike on Saturday so I made sure to get to Winston-Salem early enough to pre-ride the course on Sunday morning. Both of my feet were so happy that I almost forgot I was pedaling. I have exactly zero alignment issues with the right pedal and the cleat engagement is far more positive than on the egg beaters. Color me happy.
Now I know you all come here for mildly comical race analysis and to look at pictures of me in spandex shorts but I have run into a bit of a problem. The Little Italian ordinarily serves as my private photographer throughout the race season. This year however she has decided to pursue gainful employment. It's weird, I know. She explained it away by saying something about paying for rent and food. I don't remember exactly what was said because I was listening to the sound of my awesome new pedals. Anyway, now that she has made some significant additions to her work schedule she will not be able to attend my races. This leaves me with a visual documentation issue. As photos will now be in short supply I will have to create the breathtaking images you have grown accustomed to by applying pencil to paper.
Sunday's race was held at Hobby Park. The start of our two lap race led the group along an airstrip for radio controlled airplanes, around a slight bend and then straight up a paved hill. The flat leading into the hill had all the singlespeeders spinning like crazy. The cadence dropped a bit as we hit the tarmac wall. As you will see in the picture below, some riders struggled with the pitch of the hill. Those of us on 29" wheels sped up the hill with ease as one would expect.
The angle of the hill may have been exaggerated for dramatic effect.
Once past the paved climb we dipped into some delicious singletrack. The course flowed nicely and felt like it was built for racing. It was relatively easy to hold speed through the entire course. It was slightly more technical than last week's trail but that was a welcome change. All through the first lap my big wheels and I rolled smoothly and I managed to avoid slamming my hand into any trees. At one point I even passed someone in my own class. That is a rare treat that should always be savored. As I finished the first lap and once again scaled the paved climb I was feeling great. As always, I felt stronger going into the second lap and started to pick up speed. Having become familiar with the course I was more comfortable letting loose and pushing the limits of my bike handling. Everything was going so smoothly that when I felt something hit my leg and then bounce off my bike's frame I didn't give it a second thought. It was only after the race that I discovered I had lost my spare tube, co2 cartridge and tire lever. I had strapped it in a most awesome way underneath my saddle but something went wrong as depicted in the image below.
He did not come in peace
I ended the race 11th out of 15 but the way I see it, I would rather finish as a palindrome than the prime number that would have placed me mid-pack. I was quite pleased to roll back to my car with hands, legs and feet all feeling strong. Next week I'm headed to San Lee park for a little rock filled fun. As I'll have no camera and certainly don't need to be drawing any more pictures I will paint beautiful images with song. Given that I can't carry a tune you won't want to miss it.