Friday, September 18, 2009

the 09 farmhand xc

The Bob Evan's Farmhand XC was indeed on a farm, and right across the street from a Bob Evans. As we rolled up to the parking road I remarked on how flat it was out in Ohio land. I hoped the course would have at least a couple of hills.

After taking an emergency pee break behind a pile of hay bales, I lined up with the small bunch of experts. I had been looking around all morning, and had yet to see another single speed. In an attempt to make a giant ass of myself I exclaimed "Hey! This is gonna be an easy win!"

Then I saw another single speeder shuffle up to the line. Whoops.

Just as in the previous race, the start was massively unfriendly to the gearless minority. I got into my lame single speed aero tuck position and spun as fast as I could.

Off the line I jumped onto Gunnar's wheel, and held on for approximately 20 seconds. Guys passed me in regular intervals as I struggled to keep pace on the disgustingly dusty and painfully flat gravel road. Thoughts of miners and black lung flitted through my mind as I choked on the dust.

I hit the single track with about 10 riders in front of me. The first section of trail was freshly cut into the side of a steep hill, with approximately 7 inches of rideable surface, and 10 inches of collapsing crust on the downhill side. It was treacherous.

For the first few minutes, I was trapped behind some small human who was having a lot of trouble on the turns. I was itching to pass. (when I'm trying to pass somebody on a twisty course, its proof that they're going slow. I freely admit that I can ride dry dirt and hairpin turns about as well as I can ride a bucking narwhal's horn 1500 feet under water.)

Finally the small human messed up on a climbing switchback and I took the opportunity to hop off my bike and run around him. I tried to work up a nice rhythm through the turns, but I felt disoriented without any jagged rocks under my tires. Thankfully there were climbs, so I did have the opportunity to pass a few people.

I was happy with the way I was ridding, and having a good time. The other SS man was nowhere to be seen. 'Yup' I thought, 'I'll just cruise on in to the finish in first and collect my free sausage'

Then I saw the other single speeder. And then he passed me. I had a race on my paws.

I tried to match him move for move through the twists, but he was much smoother than me. The climbs were short and steep, and he just seemed to carry his momentum right up them, while I struggled to push over the top.

At last we hit a longer climb, and he slowed down. I got off my bike and ran up the hill to catch him. I remounted in front and really put the hammer down in an attempt to get away.

I didn't see him again until I finished the first lap. I was going through the sketchy(er) section of fresh cut trail, when he appeared on my wheel again. I groaned inwardly. We approached a section of very very tight and steep switchbacks.

Since I had failed to clean the section on the first lap, I decided to give it another go on the second. I stood up, cranked my bars way over, and started to muscle around the 170 degree corner, and I promptly ate dirt. The other SS guy passed me. I spend the better part of 50 feet of trail trying to get back on my bike. By that time he had buzzed away down the course and left me dusty and well, just dusty. I was covered in dust.

I tried to re-catch the guy, but I never did. I later found out that he was riding 650b wheels, so its not really my fault that he was faster. I was just another victim of the magical wheel size built for wizards, and people who need a bike that's halfway between functional and archaic.

The rest of the race was fun, and I worked on my vision looking through the turns. Near the end of the race I glanced Don behind me. Earlier in the year at the tour de lake, he beat me in a sprint to the finish line. There was no way I was going to let that happen again. I went as fast as my little legs would pedal me, and when I exited the woods I opened it up into a full on sprint to stay ahead of the villain. I succeeded.

A few minutes later I turned in my meal ticket and collected my sausage and three cookies (i had to smile and ask real nice for the second cookie. the third one I stole.) Yum.

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