When my buddy RL asked me if I wanted to do a review of a 650b Singlespeed rigid mountain bike I quickly jumped at the opportunity. Singlespeed bikes have always been dear to my heart, I just love their simplicity; no adjusting derailleurs, forks, or rear shocks. I have owned and ridden singlespeed bicycles with both 26 and 29 inch tires and from what I remembered, those bikes kicked my butt but were super fun to ride.
When I first saw this bike, I was expecting something “less” of a bike since it sells for $499, but I was pleased to see that it comes with Avid disc brakes and my favorite all-around tires Kenda Nevegals. I also loved the “British Racing” green paint scheme, the white part is a little odd but it maybe a canvas for some personal stickers!
The first item of business was to make the Bee’s Knees more “knee” friendly, we swapped the stock 38×16 drivetrain to a 32X18 combination. This setup is perfect for the World Famous Fullerton Loop which consists of mostly flat terrain with a few steep short uphills.
Our choice of gearing made riding this bike quite fun. I was going a at decent clip on the straights, I was spinning hard but not to the point of “spinning out”. The full rigid setup made climbing so much easier than on my full suspension 29er, I just had to make sure that I had enough momentum before I hit the climbs. Yes, the ride was a little rough on the downhills, but shifting my body towards the rear and relaxing my arms made it tolerable. As as side note, I hit 21 mph on the longest downhill where I would normally hit 24 mph on my FS.
So what are my thoughts of a 650B? I like it… a lot… Steering is quicker, climbing is easier and that famous “29er momentum” is still there. And how about the Bee’s Knees? I dig this bike, it was really fun to ride and the price is quite affordable. Stay tuned for the full review, I will be riding the Bee’s knees during my weekly night rides and hopefully take it to a trail where I can really abuse it.
As you may recall I talked about Burt Reynolds getting a facelift. So after giving it some more thought and double checking with LadyP to make sure I can part out her old bike, I went to town on Burt the following morning.
After spending some time to strip the KHS XC604 of its parts, I started doing the same for Burt. I removed all of his single speed parts. The process was pretty seamless. The KHS had the same cable stops as Burt. So that means when I installed the cables, it went in easily. I did have to trim some excess housing to make a perfect fit.
I took me less than an hour to do the whole conversion. To my surprise, the bike came in at 26.5lbs with my DH pedals.
Here he is looking all sharp and stuff with his new drive train and brakes. I guess I lucked out that the color scheme that LadyP picked for her bike ended up working for Burt.
The white and black really go well together with bits of red to accent the whole bike. Burt also got a set of Avid ElixirR brakes, way better than the mechanical brakes that he came with.
LadyP was pretty good to her drive train. It just needed to be lubed and it was ready to go!
Later that afternoon Burt and I headed out at the world famous Fullerton Loop. First thing I noticed with Burt and his new drive train, rides nothing like the 2×10 that’s on the Airborne Goblin. One thing I’ve come to love on the Goblin was the 2×10, it just feels more efficient on the flats. But one thing Burt did well in was climbing, thanks to his granny gears of 22t/34t.
I found that on Burt, I was on my big ring quite a bit and noticed that I was cross chaining by using the 28t-32t. I am assuming I was doing this because it’s what my legs have grown accustomed to while riding the Goblin. Just like with any bike I test or have ridden, it will take some time for me to get used to everything about Burt. When I converted him over to a single speed. It took me at least 5 rides to finally like how everything was. From cock pit to gearing, it all took some time to get dialed in. I figured it’s going to be the same story with Burt this time around. One thing I did change, and will probably change again by the end of the week is the handle bar. I’ll need something wider since I like my bikes to have short stems and wide bars.
Though Burt Reynolds isn’t a new bike to me, having this new configuration sure feels new and it’s got me all excited! I’m working on procuring some better parts for him, so who knows what he’ll end up with in the next few weeks.
The other day I was hanging out with Animal. I told him how I inherited a great professional grade Park Truing Stand. I was telling him that because of this tool, I’ve learned how to properly true and etc. Animal looks at me, chuckles and told me to look at the two zip ties in his ginormous hand.
He went onto explain that when ever he needed to true a wheel, he’d take two zip ties and attach them to seat stay of the frame.
What he does is cut the ties to the length needed and turn it in or out so he can properly dial it in. Makes sense right?
Now check this out. This is his rear wheel that he hand-built without using a truing stand or a dishing tool. He used the zip tie method and the wheel has over 1600 miles on it!
Yesterday during my lunch ride I decided to take Burt ReynoldSS out for it’s maiden voyage. I was pretty excited about since it’s been a while since I’ve ridden a single speed.
But during my climbs the chain was skipping. Ugh…I thought I had addressed that issue by placing the rear cog further out and spacing my tensioner with a set of washers. However, if you look at this photo below the tensioner is pushing the chain in and when under load, it will cause it to skip.
With this in mind, I’ve got two choices. 1, I can tray and mess with the chain line by putting the front ring inside of the crank arm and align the rear cog a few spaces back to see if the chain can fall within the roller from the tensioner. The other option would be 2, that’s to get a new tensioner that allows some adjustment on the roller.
Getting a new one seems to be the best option, probably the easiest. But you know me, I’ll find a way to make what I have work and my last resort would be purchasing a new tensioner.
Another issue I found was the stem height. Not a big deal, just have to move it down a bit since it felt really high. It made it difficult to climb when the bars feel like they are up to my chest and it makes it tough to gain leverage.
This summer in Orange County, Enduro Stuff held a series of four races in the local country parks, entitle OC Parks Tour, starting at Aliso & Wood Canyons Park, then Santiago Oaks Regional Park, O’Neill Regional Park, and ending at Caspers Wilderness Park. I had not raced any other races put on by Enduro Stuff before, and they did a great job of organizing and running these events. They even held formal pre-rides for riders to come check out the course before the events. Being XC races, I was on my SS for this series.
The first race, held at Aliso Woods, was especially early in the morning on May 5th with a start time of 6:30am. Luckily for me, I live in Aliso Viejo, so the 5 minute drive to the event was the shortest drive ever for me to any race. It was chilly on the line with the sun having just crept above the horizon. The course was a lollipop layout starting with fire-road off the starting line (which was just across the street (Alicia) from the entrance to Laguna-Niguel Regional Park). The fire-road let to the Aliso trail-head bypassing main paved entrance. From there it headed directly to the bottom of Mathis via the main fire-road. Up until that point, the course was relatively flat. Mathis is a major climb ascending about 1000’ft. in 1 mile. The first 25% of the trail is the steepest, and clearing that part is the hardest section of the climb. On the SS is it quite a lung-burner. After the climb, Mathis leads to the ridge-line trail West Ridge. A quick right then and the course head down to Rock-it trail. If you cannot gather or guess from the name, there is a large rock garden in the middle of this trail which is like a big cheese grater. It starts out with nice, tight, and twisty single-track that opens up in the middle with the rock garden and then back to awesome, flowy single-track with a long straight chute out at the bottom. From the bottom of Rock-it, the course made one more loop up Mathis and down Rock-it a second time before returning toward the start/finish the we we came. If Mathis was not hard enough the first time, it surely was the second. I ended up with a 3rd place finish for this race.
I missed the second race of the series on July 14th at Santiago Oaks, as I was out of town.
The third race was held at O’Neill Regional Park on Aug 25th. I had never ridden in this park before, so I definitely took advantage of the pre-ride event to familiarize myself with the course. The course had two sections to it, an out-and-back first section to separate and thin out the riders, and then a single-track loop. Starting briefly with some single-track the course quickly led to a river-bed crossing. This section was sandy, rocky, loose and a potential hike if you lost your momentum. I wanted to be the first through this section as to not get bogged down by other riders struggle through or dismounting. Across the River began a short pavement climb to a longer mild upward pavement grade. After about 2 miles or so, we made a U-turn and jumped onto single-track that paralleled the road for the return route.
The first section of the course was pretty straight-forward and uneventful with a few switchbacks at the end, but the looping section of the course is where all the fun (good & bad) was to be had. Passing back through the starting area, the lap began up pavement for a few hundred yards before jogging left and onto single-track. A mild climb led to a quick single-track descent, with a quick turn at the bottom where too much speed could be troublesome. From there the course headed a pavement climb that was steep enough to be tough, at for me with each recurring lap on the single-speed. At the top of the pavement a double-track trail continues the upward grind. After quick descent the trail hit the steepest section and was just barely cleanable for me with only one gear. Shortly after this section the trail reaches it peak and a single-track drops off to the left. This is the major descent of the loop and it is fast, fun, and twisty. This was by far my favorite portion of the course. At the bottom it spits out to a pavement section that led generally down toward more laps or the finish line. I completed this race with a 5th place finish.
The fourth and final race of the series was held on Novemeber 3rd at Caspers Wilderness Park in the San Juan foothills. It was a chilly 43 degrees (F) upon driving up to the race venue and slowly warmed up into gorgeous racing weather. The course was simple one and consisted of a short loop and a long loop branching off of the same climb. Out of the gate the course started on pavement for a bit then headed to a left and began an undulating climb of varying grades. For the short course, a quick left down the hill over some loose dirt led quickly down to a lower rolling fire-road which headed back to the start for then next lap. The long loop passed the turn for the short loop and continued the climbing. At the top of the long loop, a FAST fire road descent lead down to the same lower road, but another mile or so out. I finished this race in 2nd place.
With three out of four races completed I ended in second place overall for the series. This series was unique in the it was held solely in local Orange County parks, and made great use of the available trails. The events had a great atmosphere and weas well enjoyed by the racers. Ron ,the head of Enduro Stuff, made sure to choose courses that were spectator friendly and fun for the racers. Post-race each event had food available and a raffle (in which I won a new light). Being a newer race series for the area the attendance was reasonable, but not overwhelming. In other words, if you have not been to or raced at one of these events, there is room for you!
Special thanks to Called to Creation, local MTB photog, for all the photos above. You can view more MTB photos from all the these races and other events as well on his site.
A couple weeks ago, I got the opportunity to drop by the Paul’s Ride for Life event, which centers around a charity ride that raises money for life-saving organ transplants. While I found out about it too late to join in the ride (which seems like it might be a cool thing to do next year), there was also a Cyclefest event sponsored by a local shop, the Bike Lane. As part of that, there were not only tables and booths for cool local organizations like MORE and FABB (join one or both if you’re in the area!), but demo bikes on hand from Niner, Felt, and Trek. I got to try out the Trek Superfly Al (geared) and the Niner S.I.R. 9 (singlespeed) for a few minutes each.
I tried the Niner first, and man… it was a fun bike! You can probably trust the word of a man who owns one more than mine, but in the few minutes I got to tool around on it I was very impressed. The geometry felt really natural – the bike was responsive without being twitchy – and it didn’t feel too hefty despite the steel frame (853 Reynolds, for those who might be wondering!).
When I got on the Trek, I noticed immediately that it had a different approach than the playful Niner. The Superfly (in all editions) is billed as a race-oriented XC bike, and it shows in how it rides and handles. It was a nice bike, but I didn’t really get that grin on my face that I look for when testing a bike out. To be fair to Trek, part of this may have been because the brakes on my test bike were REALLY dirty and noisy, so I was distracted by that for much of my ride.
This was my first real experience testing out multiple bikes at a demo event (I was supposed to have a 2nd a couple days ago, but it got rained out), and it was a lot of fun! I’m sure many of you do this when you can, but I’d encourage everyone to attend demos when possible – it’s an easy way to check out one or several bikes fairly quickly, whether you’re looking for a new ride or not!
This summer Spy Optics sent over some new eyewear from their performance line. Spy says, “This is what you get after 16 years of R&D: Stylish, functional eyewear that can endure a world of abuse and won’t allow anything to get in the way of clear vision, fit or comfort.” The Quanta runs between $100 and $140 depending on the lenses you get with them.
Here are some of the cool features on the Quantas:
Grilamid Frame Said to be pretty much unbreakable. This is good for MTBing, since our gear is usually tossed in the backseat after a ride. I found the frames to have a lot of flexibility in the arms. I have a face that is a little on the narrow side, and although they fit snugly, others that tried them on with a wider face, found them comfortable as well. And they come in three color options: black, white, and brown.
Scoop Venting System Said to combat lens fogging by promoting air flow between the lens and the wears face, the scoops on both sides allow air to flow behind the glasses. Making it harder for the lens to fog up. Fogging is a problem I often get on the cold early morning rides. I got zero fogging while moving, even if it was at a slow speed. If I was pushing it and breathing real hard, and then came to a dead stop, I would get some fog going on. But as soon as I started pedaling again, it was gone in about 3 seconds without removing the glasses.
Patented Scoop Venting
Hytrel Rubber is found on the nose and temple pieces. And is a unique hydrophilic compound that gets tackier when exposed to moisture. So when you sweat, the Hytrel grips your face better, and keeps your eye protection from moving around. The Hytrel Rubber is not sticky to the touch, but they do stay put on your head. I did a few races where the temps were in the 90s. With all that sweating, I never had any problem with these slipping at all. The rubber is also very comfortable on the nose.
Hytel Rubber temple pieces Hytrel Rubber nose piece
ARC Lenses are used on the Spy Performance Line. ARC stands for – Accurate Radius Curvature. These Polycabonate lenses are impact resistant, and provide optically correct, distortion free vision. They also absorb 100% of UVA, UVB, and UVC rays that damage your eyes. Spy does offer lenses in many colors, as well as a polarized set. I only tested the standard black ones, and after 6 months and hundreds of miles, they are scratch free.
The Verdict, eye protection is very important in what we do. To find something than performs well, and comfortable, is often hard to do. I’m sold! Spy delivered with these, and is doing something great with their Performance line. Check out the Quanta, and other styles at Spyoptic.com
Get it? Supdate…Like S as in Single Speed Soma…but since Update doesn’t start with S, I threw it in there. But then it makes it like a double meaning, Sup’ as in “What’s up” but combined with Update becomes Supdate as if I was saying “What’s Up, here’s an update!” Aye…nevermind, if I have to explain it, then it’s not as clever. I’m sure there’s a few of you that said, “Supdate?….wait….OOOOH I get it!!!! haha Supdate…ya…haha…Supdate.”
Anyhow, the other day I was able to take the Soma SS on its first longish ride. The Fullerton Loop is about 11.5 miles and it has a mixture of ups and downs, as well as wall rides, teeter totters, boulders that chase you, darts that shoot out at you while you’re riding away, and some guy name Jones…Indiana was his first name. Ok, you got me, that stuff about wall rides, boulders and such were made up. But wouldn’t it be cool! But I digress, my gearing on the Soma is 32t/20t. I had feared that having such a big cog in the back would make me spin too much on the flats, well it’s true, I was spinning like a hamster on a wheel. However, it was the perfect gearing to ensure that I could clear all the climbs. I did dry heave a few times because I found myself exerting my body in order to keep up with Priscilla and our friend Ben. Then again I recall when I was SSing with a 26er, it was pretty common to get that nauseated when I was working hard.
So far the Soma is doing great! No chain skipping or breaking, and riding on drops was a great experience. My only complaint would be the brake levers I installed. One of my friends donated them to me, I thank him for it. But they are just a tad to small and the reach was too far. You see, my hands are like biscuits with baby carrots as fingers, yes wide and stubby (Moe, don’t even…). This mean that braking was a bit of a task and proved to be difficult especially if you’re going down the trail fast.
I ended up ordering some Tektro XLC brakes from Jenson USA. Funny thing about these brakes, I searched for “Road Bike Brake Levers” and they didn’t show up on the Jenson site. So I Googled it and found a link back to Jenson in turn I purchased them for about $17.
These brake levers are awesome! Not only do my hands fit in them, but they are ergonomic and has 2 reach settings. Not bad for $17!
Here’s a photo of the old lever in comparison to the new.
I’m hoping to get another ride in before the weekend is over. I gotta see if these levers are as awesome as I am hoping them to be. So until next time, I’ll provide you all with another Supdate….get it? Supdate…aye never mind.
This Saturday, April 30th was the Project Rwanda ride. This a ride to raise money for Project Rwanda, and they provide bikes for those in Rwanda to be able to transports agricultural produce. According to their website:
Project Rwanda is committed to furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope. Our goal is use the bike to help boost the Rwandan economy as well as re-brand Rwanda as a beautiful and safe place to do business and visit freely.
They sell tons of raffle tickets, and will give away a carbon bike as the grand prize, as well as lots of smaller items. There are two ride options available for those who want to participate, 25 miles and 50 miles. Somewhere in my confused brain I thought, “I’ve done 25 mile ride before, why don’t I do the 50”. Needless to say I am now paying the penalty for that decision. From what I heard they were expecting around 600 riders for the day. The 50 mile ride started at 7:00am and the 25 at 9:00am. When I arrived at Cook’s Corner early due to limited parking for the start of the race, the wind was absolutely howling. I prepped the bike and stayed in the car out of the wind. There wasn’t a good area to spin and warm up, plus 50 mile is plenty of time to warm up, so I waited till the last minute jump on the bike and spin a little bit.
After some brief comments by one of the ride organizers, he finished by stating, “You have now officially started.” It took a few moments for those at the very front that this meant GO! This was a mass start so even near the middle of the pack it took a minute before I even started moving. The first section of the course followed part of the Aliso Creek bike trail (which is paved). This was just downhill enough that there was no point in pedaling on the single speed. Next was the first turn onto dirt and riders were backing up trying to get into single file for the single track. This section headed into the Whiting Ranch for a small loop. After a quick climb the trail headed down and out of Whiting on single track. With SO many riders so densely packed, this was the absolute slowest I had ever ridden through Whiting. At every water crossing, there were at least five riders who would stop for some unknown reason. I never did figure out why so many riders seemed to have a water phobia on this ride. This fear of water continued throughout the entire ride and only got worse as the water crossings got bigger and deeper.
Once out of Whiting we headed back toward Cook Corner’s and on to O’Neil via Live Oak Canyon. This was a fairly easy stretch, but had some good climbs. The first aid station I knew was around the 12mi marker, although at this point it felt like I was past 12mi, it was probably only 8-10mi. By this point the riders were starting to thin out a little bit, but the hardest part for me, being on the single speed, was the single track climbs. All the geared riders would immediately drop into granny up the hills and spin away, not climbing very quickly. I, however, had to stand and crank on the pedals to get up the hill, but it was even harder to do it at a slow pace. By this point I was beyond the brief 10-15% of the course I had actually ridden before, and everything was going to be new to me. So I pulled over for a quick snack. I had checked with another rider before the race who does a good amount of endurance riding and was informed that your body is only capable of making us of approximately 250 calories and 24oz of water per hour. Based on that info I had loaded my pack accordingly with GU gels, Cliff Bars, Gatorade, GU chews, orange slices, and a peanut butter & honey sandwich (for the home stretch). I ate one of my oranges, chugged some Gatorade and took off again.
As I continued to head on I scaled back my pace a bit to make sure I wouldn’t run out of steam too soon. This section was mainly rolling fire-road and a little bit of pavement till I hit the first aid station. The aid stations had plenty of extra water, Gatorade, snack bars, as well as fresh oranges and bananas. I downed a couple a bananas, a bottle of Gatorade, a shot of GU, and a bag of chips. The aid station was near a set of restrooms, which I made use of while they were available and because I had already had to stop once and answer the call of nature. The though did cross my mind at this point, if this is only 25% of the course, how am I going to finish. After the brief rest, I was feeling good and headed out. Once past the first aid station the riders definitely began to thin out. After about 10-15 minutes I began to feel the benefits of the food I had consumed and kept on spinning. Not far out past the aid station I hit some pavement as the course wound away from the dirt and through a few intersections. In just a few miles I came upon the second aid station. I only stopped long enough to grab a few Cliff Bars and down another bottle of Gatorade and kept pedaling. I’m sure I probably was not eating quite enough as I should, but my stomach is not very forgiving when it comes to mixing food with strenuous exercise.
I was already in unfamiliar territory by this point. All the dirt was new to me, and I had to start keeping an eye out for the trail markers as not every turn had someone pointing in the right directions and no large groups of riders to follow. After some downhill section which I knew would be tough on the way back I came across several water crossings and each seemingly followed by sand pits. And just like before there were riders who didn’t know how to attack the crossings. The water on the deepest crossings was only about 12-18”in. My fee didn’t even get wet till the third one. The sand coming out of the water was pretty deep. A lot of riders ahead had given up and were just walking through. I pedaled through most of them, but 2/3 of the way through the biggest sand pit, my front wheel sunk in and I was done in with it. A quick hike a bike out of the sand let to trail through the river bottom that was just painful at this point. All of the little river rocks were just chattering me to death.
Rolling hills and deserted fire-road came and went for several miles as I tried one by one to pick off the isolated riders ahead of me. In one section I came charging down a fire-road only to find a off-camber left turn at the bottom with a large rain rut on the outside of the turn. I quickly tried to lose as much speed as possible before I made a fatal mistake and ended up going OTB. Just as my front tire slid into the rut I had gotten my speed under control and was able to keep rolling through the rut without going over the bars. There were constant reminders that MTB’ers were not the only ones to use these trails as evidence of horses was more than abundant. After a bit of trail that was more down than up I rolled up on pavement and third aid station situated just past the halfway point.
As I sat resting in the shade at the aid station I contemplated how much energy I really had left. It felt like I had used up 75% on the first 50% of the mileage. More bananas, oranges, and a cliff bar quickly were eaten while I chatted with some of the other riders from which I found out that there was a big climb out of where we were back in the other directions. I took a little longer rest knowing that the first thing out of the gate was another big climb. There were guys at the rest stop cleaning and lubing chains, so I took advantage of that while I rested and ate. I was not really watching the clock on my rest, but quickly enough I reached a point where I realized that I was only postponing the inevitable and further rest would not be of any benefit.
I headed out to face the pain of the final half of my journey. Just like I had been told shortly after the aid station there was a long grind. The first bit of it was not too steep and I slowly conquered it. The last section got fairly steep and I ramped up what speed I could and made it about halfway up before I spun out and lost my momentum. A quick HAB up the remaining climb, I then headed back through the rolling hills that led to the sand and water crossings. After the final water crossing there is a significant climb, but all the riders ahead of me stopped to clean their bike in the middle of the trail at the foot of the climb. On the single-speed this just sucks, as momentum is your best friend. I ended up having to attack the hill in sections, stopping for air several times. This just depleted what remaining energy I had, and in the 35-40 mile range I was really SSuffering. I was starting to get cramps in both legs, and when I straightened my legs they cramped up badly and wanted to stay that way. About the only thing keeping me moving forward was sheer stubbornness and unwilling to give up. I was definitely slowing down and other geared riders were passing me. I came across some covered benches and took a few minutes to rest.
I got back on the bike and continued on at what felt like a snail’s pace, but I was still riding. After a while I came upon a group and riders and used them to pace me and chatted with them along the way. After a while things were starting to look familiar and I realized we were quickly approaching the second aid station on the return route. With that glimmer of hope, I had a small resurgence of energy and pulled ahead of the small group I had been pacing with. The aid station was down in supplies to mainly water and a few granola bars which I passed on. Finding a spot in the shade to rest, I finished off my remaining fruit as well as my sandwich. I still had a good amount of water remaining, so once my food was eaten there was no point in further rest. From the aid station it was pavement for a bit, so even on the mild uphill, it was fairly easy even in my tired state. Soon enough I found dirt and generally gravity was in my favor as I headed back passed the first aid station toward O’Neil Park.
I came through the pavement section of O’Neil and began the last major climb of the ride. I was so spent I had to break it up in to section again stopping every hundred yards or so. By the top of the climb it had gotten too steep to ride. I hiked the remaining bit of the climb and the cramps returned only much worse this time. I made it to the top of the climb and the last hard climb was over. With every pedal stroke my legs wanted to lock up whenever they straightened. The cramps were bad, but I was not about to quit this close to the end. I was on the home stretch, and I could virtually see the finish line. That alone was enough to give me the burst of energy I needed to finish strong. Up the final climb at Live Oak Canyon, and down the hill back to El Toro and Cook’s Corner where the finish line was. It felt good to be done!! I had never done a ride of this caliber before, let alone on a single-speed. 50 miles is a long way, and this was an awesome but painful ride.
This past weekend was host to the fifth and final race of the Southridge Winter Series. The weather however did not get the message that this was still the winter series. Temperatures were in the mid 80’s, a significant change from the previous races where layers to keep more were more typical. On the way to the course, I got a surprise phone call from fellow team racer Mark Tomas. He was able last minute to join in on the final race. Mark, who brought out his new SS, and I were in the same class with the SS’s being an open class. In our class we were joined by Bruce Dupriest with Incycle and Byant Mena with ODI. With all the registration paperwork completed, Mark and I headed out for a warm-up spin.
Normally the SS class is released for their start just after the expert class. There were a bigger group than normal of expert ladies, and somehow they missed their correct start with the group ahead of us. Donny called the SS’s up to the line and notices that there is still a group of ladies mingled in among the SSers. He tells them that they had missed their start. Some of them started to line up as if he’s going to give them a fresh “GO”. Donny tries to clarify by telling them, “No, go now!” This gets about half of them moving and the rest catch on after the first few take off.
Now the SSers actually get their start. I got the out in front off the start and through the first turn and into the flats. Mark caught me at the beginning of the single-track, and all of the SSers proceeded to loop through the single-track leading to the hike-a-bike. I have Mark about 20-30 yards ahead of me on the start of the hike with one other SSer between us. I pushed up the hill trying to close the gap between us. I wasn’t able to catch Mark, but I was able to catch and pass the other rider by the top of the climb. I reached the top and started the first descent. This is where I really notice that I was having trouble finding a rhythm. I was forcing myself through the turns not flowing through them. Through the next two climbs and down the back side of the hill, I continued to struggle to find my rhythm.
I finished up the downhill section and headed out to the flats. I cleaned the steep climb before the last bit of single-track leading to the end of the first lap. There was a change made to the final turn out of the chicane leading to the second lap, and evidently some of the riders didn’t catch the change and rode directly into the tape. Luckily, Mark & I pre-rode this section in our warm-up, so it wasn’t an issue for us. As I passed the finish line, I noted my time for the first lap. Not really a faster pace than the previous race, and I wouldn’t be setting any PR’s today. As I started the second lap, one of the other SS riders was creeping up behind me. I could not manage to maintain my lead heading to the HAB. I followed him up the HAB section. It was definitely quite warm and I was definitely feeling the heat. I noticed another rider using his water bottom to cool his head. Best idea ever! For some reason I had never thought to do this. I don’t normally drink much during the race, just a mouthful here or there to keep my mouth from getting to dry. It worked well to cool me off on the hike.
I knew I could gain ground on the downhill sections to help make up the gap. This time around however, I did have any issue finding a flow with the trail. I was able to pass him at the bottom of the descent as he had to reset a dropped chain. I pushed up the next climb to try and put some distance between us. As we approached the single track climb he was still about 30 yards behind me. I stood up and sprinted up the hill till my lungs were ready to burst. This lead to some rolling single-track and one last steep section that completes the majority of the climbing for the lap. By this point the other rider was out of sight and it was time to enjoy the long descent and put more ground between us. As I reached a short fire-road climb about halfway down, I came up on the rider I had already passed. He was gotten a flat and walked straight down the hill (I assume). I offered to stop and help him repair the flat as I had a tube, but he was not interested. I dropped down the rest of the hill, and toward the back flats. Up a steep short loose climb, and then I headed out to finish out the rest of the lap and on to the finish line.
I powered through to the finish line and placed in third for this race behind fellow team racer Mark who won the race. See his race report here. As this race completed the winter series, the series overalls results were available shortly after the race. Having had participated in all five races, I had accumulated enough points for a series win. The final results for the series had me in first place.