Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Fine Day for Battle

For those of you keeping track at home, this past Sunday was the Stump Jump race in Spartanburg SC. Traveling to South Carolina always makes me feel good. It's like visiting the home of a friend who is a professional failure and being reminded of just how awesome your life really is. Sorry SC, did that one sting a little bit? I would be worried about offending you if I thought you could read.

I rose on Sunday to beautiful weather and the promise of superb racing conditions. As I spend most of my waking hours lusting over the delicious curves of my big wheeled single speed I felt compelled to shoot a few photos before I left the house. The sunrise provided interesting light that made for a beautiful collection of images. The finest of them is below.

Sunflares for the good people

I was quite fortunate this week to have a travel companion in the form of the Little Italian. Due to an unexpected day off she was able to accompany me on my journey toward what would ultimately be a less than stellar race. For me anyway. You see, when you ride a singlespeed you are are faced with making a gear selection that you will be stuck with whether you like it or not. For the past year I have been running a 32x20 almost exclusively. Nevermind the fact that over the course of the past year I have gone from 128 pounds to 143 pounds while trimming some body fat along the way. Any intelligent human would surmise that this weight gain had come in the form of muscle. I, on the other hand, simply assumed that my brain was getting heavier. Not that I didn't consider running a different gear, mind you. There was actually much debate over my selection as I deferred to the sage-like advice of my favorite German. I ultimately chose to run the 20. Now I know I am certainly strong enough to push the bigger gear and will be certain to have it mounted before I head down to Columbia in two weeks. If only I had listened to The Hoff.

The Hoff told me to sack up and run my 18 tooth King cog instead of the 20 tooth monstrosity to the left. I told him to put on a shirt and keep his opinions to himself.

So what happened at the race? Flat happened. Not a flat tire. Flat ground. Lots and lots of what I like to call "not hills". When we lined up at the start I thought I might be in trouble but it didn't really sink in until everyone disappeared ahead of me while I was spinning my legs like an egg beater hooked up to a 14 year old speed addict overdosing on 5 Hour Energy.

Somewhere far far ahead of me...........

The course at Croft Park was certainly the easiest I have raced since the end of the short track series. It was actually a nice change of pace after the pounding I took on the rocky course at San Lee. The singletrack flowed beautifully and I had a great ride overall. Had I simply been out for a social ride it would have been a great day. Sadly, this was no social ride. This was war! Shaved legged, spandex clad war.

I told the gentleman behind me that I would give him a puppy if he let me win. Apparently he's not much of an animal lover.

Where did I end up? Let's just say if you flipped the results sheet upside down I would be the big winner. But a road trip is a road trip no matter how the race results shake out and the maximum amount of fun must always be had. To that end the Little Italian and I decided to take a side trip on the way home. Upon seeing a sign for the Cowpens National Battlefield Memorial we could not resist. In our minds we were headed to the site of an epic battle between two rival bands of futuristic laser cannon wielding Herefords. That would have been sweet but it was not to be. South Carolina disappointed once again. I really need to lower my expectations of that state.

The Cowpens National Battlefield is actually the site of a famous revolutionary war battle where some dirty looking people shot a bunch well dressed people in silly hats. The video at the visitors center was a little unclear but if I understood it correctly, we won. At least I hope so because I hate referring to french fries as chips. Either way we had a lovely afternoon. We returned to Charlotte with slightly deeper tans, slightly broader smiles and a heightened desire to roll into battle again. I leave you today with a photo taken during a dramatic reenactment of that fateful day in the mid 1800s when a quiet pasture in Cowpens SC became a battlefield.

Here we see the Little Italian surrendering to a British soldier who overwhelmed her with his superior track cycling skills.