Monday, March 31, 2008

Chickasaw 30k – DNF

Sunday brought a return to Columbia, TN for the Chickasaw 30k MTB race. This was the first bike race I have ever entered, and even with the conditions and my results, I’m sure it won’t be my last. I woke up Sunday feeling pretty spent from the 15k race the day before. I definitely pushed myself on Saturday, with good results, but it left me feeling sluggish from the get-go on Sunday. I debated whether to even make the trip and race because of the bad weather (lots of rain), soreness, and fear about trashing my bike. I finally decided to suck it up and make the trip.

Sunday morning (notice how clean the bike is)

As soon as I got to Chickasaw I began regretting my decision to run the two lap sport race. Because it was my first race, I definitely qualified as “beginner” and could have raced the one lap race. Instead, I had decided (probably on a sunny, warm, and dry day) that I would run in the sport category to get two laps in on the bike. It sounded reasonable enough until rain turned the trails into massive mudslides and the uphills and downhills were washed out disasters. Ugly. I started off running behind everyone in my age-group as the first downhill was gnarly and I had already seen more than a couple hard crashes at the bottom. I felt no need to rush to my impending doom.

Video doesn't do the mud pit at the bottom justice

I made it down by just letting it all hang out and trusting my big 29” wheels to do the work for me. They did. Once on the trail I was quickly mentally exhausted. Trying to focus on keeping the bike upright, avoiding down riders, and letting faster riders pass, in addition to working hard to keep any momentum was quickly trying. My lungs felt great and my HR was fine, but my legs felt like lead, and were quickly covered in mud, as was my bike. I kept wishing all these guys had to swim before hitting the trail; I think my chances would have been a lot better. Somewhere around mile 6, I tried to shift without looking down (my derailleur was covered in mud, rocks, sticks, leaves, anything else?) and it went nowhere.

Do I have a derailleur?

I jumped off, knocked off some mud, but my small cog was covered in mud and I couldn’t get the derailleur issues worked out with me and the bike so sloppy. I rode out the last 3 miles in a painful struggle to remain upright and focused. After crossing the finish line I made the decision to turn in my chip and call it a day. I could have finished, and I’m usually way too competitive to quit, but my bike was giving me all kinds of problems and the potential was there for me to hurt myself and endanger my XTERRA season which is the #1 priority. I did become a better rider and gain more experience with my new bike, but it came at a price.

After some initial cleaning

When I cleaned the bike up at home after the race, the mud and other gunk on the back tire had worn through the clear-coat and paint all the way to the bare frame in the upper and lower rear triangles on the bike. It will need some attention, and I hope I haven’t caused any serious damage. While my pride is shot to hell, my body, my bike, and my XTERRA season are better off being one-and-done. I really hate being passed by people (and I was passed by a lot of people). I can’t wait to redeem myself. 26 days until my first XTERRA.

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