I'm not sure if it was my wisest decision in the last couple years to throw my hands in the ring and derailleur out the window. I really didn't know what to expect, I didn't have any expectations and I didn't realize how much it was going to hurt. I also forgot how much fun it is to race for only and hour and a half. When you get used to riding all day it's a bit of a cheap thrill to just beat yourself up for what felt like only a few minutes, yes slightly understated.
Saturday morning was filled with rain in the morning, opted not to change my tires and avoid getting hit my lightning. Late afternoon social and a couple laps once things cleared up. Made my usual F$(% up on bone shaker during the first lap. I seem to do that every year now and every year someone from the Norco tent seems to see it and cheer. This year was no different. Get it out of me before the race. A few minor tweaks to the bike to be made in the evening,
Sunday morning was spent cheering Shannon on at a local 10 km run. She had fun, it was a great course which finished up on the Orillia rail trail. Some good swag also. Awesome time, just a hair over 50 minutes. A little this and a little that and we were at the start corral cheering on the Elite race. For anyone who saw the start, ouch, the pace was crazy right off the line and just ramp up from there. AWI had a couple in the top 20, More of this and that including a warm up blah blah blah.
They shove the Single speeder in with the Cadet's this made for a very confusing pack which I was sitting right at the back. The word go meant a huge surge which had me about 20 feet behind. I'm a typical slow starter and not having the ability to shift and jump in the pack kept me already settling into my own pace and this was 30 seconds into the race. Like usual the first climb showed who pinned it way to hard at the beginning. Picked off a few before the single track and settled in. The course was in great shape, lots of grip. I let the bike run and took advantage of anyone who choose the wrong line and snuck pass. I knew I was back, maybe top 10 at this point and just rode. At around the halfway mark of the course I came close to pulling the plug. I've been having those hand problems and for some reason today I opted on wearing gloves. My left hand was numb, I had a little fear of not being able to hold on to the grips. Every time I could I had them as relaxed as possible but not being able to shift gears meant death gripping the bars and torquing them on every climb. I was concerned but after I removed the gloves things settled back to normal.
Finished the first lap and saw a pack ahead of me, this included Tristan who had left like a rocket of the start. Didn't get impatient or anxious and stayed stayed. I've learned pretty quickly that you need to conserve your legs for those important high power outputs. Passed a few and I was on Tristan's wheel. There was hopes that we could work together and pull a few rider in. Tristan hammering the double track, myself leading the single. This worked for a bit until my front wheel drifted out in a soft berm that I took a stupid line through. Hmm and I was the one leading the single track, rethinking?? Caught back up to the pack and started to lead again, As we came through Coffee run Tristan dropped off the wheel. Team strategy was done, I started to look ahead and saw the next target. It had an HBCC jersey.
Starting the last lap I was still a little stunned that my legs were still feeling pretty good. I'd been concerned before the race, I was almost a little shocked. I caught Mike on the start climb and tried to use my top secret ninja skills and hide quietly behind him in his draft. This worked only in my mind. He would attack, I would debate and only do the minimal I needed to. We were running into some traffic and every effort he put down seemed to almost be wasted as he hammered the double track I was able to slip in with half the effort and roll up behind in the single track. It was like this for most of the lap. Mike did finally get a big gap on me just after the first side of the feed but I think the efforts were catching up with him and I slowly gained on him as we headed into the last couple km's. As we came up to coffee run I started to scheme my plan. There isn't much of a race left, I knew where I would have to go and what I had to do.
I stayed right on his wheel through the fast downhill that I always giggle on, as we rolled towards the little climb just before the 2nd half of the feed it pulled to the right and stopped, I didn't know what was up. I kept going made the turns into the feed looking back. Mike wasn't there, I didn't slow down. Kept on the gas just in case and a minute or two later crossed the line. 5th, not bad for not knowing what would happen. i think I could go faster. Found out later that Mike's hub froze up. That was not the way I wanted to get past him. Would have loved it to turn into a sprint at the line.
What was my overall opinion of the single speed division and the race.. One of my favorite courses to date at Hardwood. A good mix of everything. Single speed is fun, I will do it again. I will never do it longer than one of these races, it still hurts more than I like and I love my duallie way to much. So does my body. A few more tweaks to be done to the SS including a really big wide riser bar. I need all the help I can get. The body is feeling the abuse but overall feeling strong considering all the aches and pains. They seem to go away when I'm on my bike. Time for more coffee and food.