Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Am My Own Worst Enemy

It’s hard to win a race when you’re out to get yourself. And that is what happened on Sunday. It was race #2 in the Cross Crusade Series, located on the site of the former Damasch Mental Hospital, back in the day it was a beautiful place in a way, flowing fields of grass, trees, birds and various wildlife. A rather nice place to get away from it all, or so I’m told. Since the good old days, the hospital and its grounds have been bulldozed to make room for some quality cookie cutter McMansions. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) with the current housing market and economic nightmare, construction is slower than a Clydesdale on a run-up. The resulting site is a pit where the hospital foundation used to be, and a lot of rough ground covered with ruts from heavy machinery, with a bit of road left over from the hospital driveway. On Sunday it probably looked much like it used to, a bunch if crazies running wild all over the place.

After trying to pre-ride the course, I can say I wasn’t too psyched to race. I had been feeling a cold coming on for a couple days, and I wasn’t too thrilled about the course. I think watching the live feed of the Superprestige race in Belgium had me looking forward to a classic Euro-cross course, and this couldn’t have been anything farther than that. Not in a bad way I guess. It just wasn’t what I really like. This week we were called up based on previous results, so I got a nice front row spot. Going into the first corner I was sitting about 4th or 5th. Tim Butler was in the lead, and I remember Tim Jones was there, as was Shane Fletcher and John Mitchem among others, with everyone else strung out close behind. I am pretty sure a group of 4 or 5 of us got some separation sometime in the first lap. I was going back and forth from 2nd to 4th, but was mostly concerned with us keeping on Butler’s wheel. I eventually jumped into the lead for a half lap or so, them Butler took it back. About a lap later I attacked again, trying to get past Butler and an A rider before a tighter stretch of the course so I could get some distance on him. It seemed to work, and I hammered it. For the next 3 laps or so I held the lead, maybe even opened it up some. I heard someone tell me I had 20 seconds on him. With two to go I was feeling confident……Until (there’s always an ‘Until’) I noticed Butler gaining quick. Real quick. A couple A guys I already passed came back by, and I couldn’t figure out why I was riding so slow. I didn’t feel like I was falling apart. But there was Butler, and still closing. Then going around a turn I saw John McCafferty close behind Butler. With the road stretch coming I felt I could open it back up, I put it in my hardest gear and gave it all I had only to have Butler fly past me! I had felt stronger than him on that stretch all day, I knew something was up. John got by me too, now I was in third. The victory I thought I had was gone. We came to the run-up and when I lifted my bike the front wheel came to a dead stop! My front brakes were rubbing! No wonder I felt slow, I was fighting my brakes, not the best time for some resistance training!. I tried to adjust the inline brake adjuster, which helped, but it was too late. I tried to at least catch John but he was flying. In the end I came in 3rd.

Why did my brake rub? Earlier in the week I had a bike fit to deal with some back issues I was having. This resulted in changing seatpost, stem and handlebar position. Turns out I didn’t tighten my left shifter enough, and with such a bumpy course it slipped a little pulling the brake cable tight with it. Even funnier is that before the race I double checked all the bolts on the bike EXCEPT the shifters. Some would say lesson learned, sadly, a similar thing happened to me at Alpenrose last year when my right shifter was loose during the race, distracting me in the barriers leading to my now famous barrier crash thanks to Oregonvelo. What’s the old saying about teaching old dogs new tricks? That’s what I get for being my own mechanic.

Oh and speaking of being a mechanic. Not only am I my own worst enemy, but apparently Margi is sleeping with the enemy. I set her cross rig up as a single ring this year. On Sunday her race was ruined by having her chain drop multiple times, getting wedged between the inner ring and the outer guard ring. The reason? Yup, I put the inner ring on wrong, leaving too much space between the two. Nice one. Fortunately I am lucky to have a very understanding girlfriend. Right babe? Right?

The shifter is on tight and the chainring is on right. Hopefully it will all work out for the next race, Ranier HS, a really fun course last year (except for my broken chain).

Here’s a quick video of me coming through the barriers:

Thanks to Brooke Hoyer for the pics.