5/10/2008

2008 La Tierra Torture MTB Race Report

Very short report:
I dominated the novelty bike division.


Take that "norms".

Much much longer report:

So last saturday I got up and started to tinker with my trusty single speed mountainbike for the race. I noted the headset was knocking a tiny bit the week before and wanted to get it tight. I loosened the stem and tightened the top nut and felt virtually no resistance. That is odd, I thought. I pulled the top nut and cap off and saw that the star nut was pulled almost all the way out. Not so good really.

I am usually pretty aware of not tightening a threadless stem cap while the stem is clamped on, so I thought this was really weird. I had no star fangled nuts in the parts box, so I was able to pull the nut out and reset it. It still pulled right out.

Damn.

So I hopped on the trusty schwinn and rode downtown to see if the LBS had one. Nope, LBS was closed at 1pm on a saturday. I like our little LBS, but only if it is OPEN, which it is falling into the habit of not being. This is a huge problem with living in this town, there is no good help, so there are inordinate demands on shop owners to run their shops solo, which leads to shops being open sporadically at best. And then people don't even bother going to the shop before driving to santa fe or mail ordering things and then the shop goes out of business...

So anyway, I am still out a star fangled nut, I call a few pals no body has one, so then I remember there is a guy who repairs bikes out of his house and I swing by to see if he is working. He is not. Double damn.

So I drive 45 minutes down to santa fe and buy a couple of star nuts. I grab some lunch, ride around on the folding bike a bit and and then head on back up to the mesa for some star nut installation. I go over to the stand, thread the star nut onto the installation tool, and drop it in. The star nut does not even engage the steer tube. Fuck.

It appears that the tasty hunter fork I got last year (to replace the cracked kelly fork) has a really thin steertube and thus the star fangled nut does not engage all the way on the old nut, and at all on the new ones. Crap.

So plan B. Build up the BMX bike, which is still in bare frame form, and race that. So I did. I built the hell out of it and 4 hours later:

I am ready to race. Except for one thing. My handlebars twist in the stem too easily. Crap crap crap.

I am pickled in phil grease and too burt out to figure out the bars, so then I go to plan B, and pull the trusty cross bike down from a hook, clean it up a bit, swap the 36-15 hard man of october gear to the 36-20 up way to late the night before the race gear, slap on some 35mm knobbys and a bottle cage and call it good. In bed at 12:30 am with a headless MTB, an almost built 24" bike and a race ready cross bike. Woo!

A few short hours later I got up, ate a small amount of oatmeal, bannana and coffee for breakfast, drove over to Pal Paul's house and got his bike loaded and headed over to the race site.

The race is just outside santa fe, and is chock full of smooth singletrack and short steep climbs and descents, it manages to cram 1100 feet of climbing in a relatively flat area.. I had two 9+ mile laps on the agenda. Last year it was cold, windy and snowy and I had some digestion issues that caused me to fall apart the first lap and come back strong on the second.
last years report here. This year is was obviously going to be alot warmer and the course had more single track and it was alot drier which implies much more sand and possibly less ideal terrain for the cross bike.

We got to the race site an hour before the start, I bottomed out my golf about 70 billion times on the rutted rarely used road to the parking area. I got registered, picked up a nice jersey that was a registration bonus for the first 100 racers to pay. Got the bike ready and rode around a bit. I felt pretty good and I felt that I was well digested compared to last years debacle. I knew I was not in as good shape as last year and that the bike might be a liability so I was not too worried about racing well, mostly just trying not to crash hard and break the bike..




The race started with about 15 odd singlespeeders on the line. Glen, the organizer, announced that we were racing for two laps, but if we wanted to, we could do a third for the "advanced single speed" something division with the clever acronym ASSHAT. Eh. I guess one of the racers complained that two laps was too short for the singlespeeders and we should do three, but then he did not even show up. Nice. No matter though, I was in it for two and utterly underfed and watered for three, so no wavering on my behalf.

Race started and I got a pretty good start, not like last year, but easily in the top five, we got to the top of the hill and then started a the singletrack and the entire field passed me. Slow and steady says I. I was pleased that I could clean almost everything in my 36-20 gear, and it was much easier than in my 36-16 mtb gear I ill advisedly ran last year. I got into a nice rhythm of descending in the hooks and climbing on the tops or hoods. I forget how much fun my cross bike is when it is not in race gearing. I am pleasantly suprised with how firm the course is. THere are a few sandy bits that I can't ride and the new singletrack is pretty loose, but it goes well. I think I am in dead last for the singlespeeders in the first couple of miles, I pass one guy in some demoralizing hilly bits and another who probably dropped out with a mechanical.

The downhills are very twisty and loose but I am having fun drifiting and skidding around the course. I pull over often for the sports men field to ride by, but no biggie. The lap ends with a fast fun woopty doo arroyo crossing fiesta, the course snakes across an arroyo 7 times in a short period of time.

As the long climb into the second lap begins, my legs tell me that perhaps I have not been taking it as easy as I thought. It is really getting warm, and I feel hungry. I am pretty sure I can fake the second lap with out bonking, but not positive.

I kind of struggle through the hilly bits at the beginning of the lap, get passed a bunch, pass a bunch of people on the smoother climbs and the non technical descents. It is pretty good. While the first lap I climb pretty smoothly, pick some good lines and avoid alot of the sand, the second lap finds me hitting every rock and tree and sand pit. I can't really get my smooth on, but I am probably going faster as I am not getting caught up with sport riders passing me and then flipping to the granny gear on the climbs... My legs are on the verge of the cramping, yet I press on. Not much else happens. I did get lapped by the two leaders in the last half mile or so. It was probably the longest race I have ever been lapped in. New fast guy Mike was pulling established fast guy Damien through the singletrack. People who saw the sprint finish claimed it was really close, but with a half mile to go it was pretty clear to me that Mike was doing all the work and looked like he was about to blow a gasket while Damien was kind of chilling in his slipstream waiting for the hill in the last 100m to sprint by him. It is good to see someone pushing Damien this year, he has been winning all MTB races and hilly road races by a ton in the last couple of years. Next time, I bet Mike tries to get him to do some work...


People seem inordinately impressed that I rode a cross bike in a mtb race. While this is not the best race for cross bike riding, it is pretty skinny tire friendly and certainly is much much better than many other races we have here in NM. Anyhow, I finished in around 2 hours, which is about 20 minutes slower than last year, but maybe the course was a little longer. I was 14th of 15 single speeders, results here. I survived and only crashed once at low speed when I steered slowly into a large loose rock that was the only feature on a smooth bit of singletrack climbing.



Anyway, great race. It was really dusty but not sandy. It was hot, but not scorching. It was hard, but not too hard.
Maybe I will ride the BMX bike next year, or maybe I will compete for the 3 lap asshat award, or perhaps I will sleep in. It is a really fun course and not too far away. Director Glen and the Pedal Queens and other volunteers did a great job with the course marking, results and the like. Well done.

I was actually pretty happy that my back did not get locked up like it does during cross races. The big gear I run in cross and the constant on and off at high speed is much different pain than what I put myself through this time. I think I set the handlebar height on the cross bike in 1996, so I was pretty happy that I can still ride in the drops as well. My neck was a bit sore, but all in all, no biggie.

Paul finished and was happy with his first MTB race in a million years. As soon as he learns that you don;t need 50psi in tubless tires on a full suspension bike, he might be even faster. We boogered off after the race as I was starving and went to the Santa fe brewing company for bitters, fish and chips and salad. Good day was had by all, probably. Anyone still reading?

6 comments:

books, bikes, beer said...

I never tire of the long version race report. Keep it up Tarik.

Antoine said...

Great report. I really enjoyed it.

I thought I might get a bit of Kudos as an unfit father of 3 (with a recent ankle reconstruction) for riding my 36 pound Pugsley in the First New Zealand Singlespeed Champs. Fat chance!
I was getting lapped by guys with 10 years on me, only finished 30 minutes ahead of a Raleigh 20 and couldn't catch a Burley tandem.

I guess I was meant to be wallpaper.

Non-fiction scientist said...

Good on ya!

I remember a cyclocross race I was talked into with my '04 Cannondale Jekyll. It was a Halloween race, so I was an ant... You know those black foam pipe insulators at the hardware store? Anyway, it was nice to be cheered so by the crowd, I apparently was "Lefty". Great experience, the hardpack was great, if you were a roadie on a cross bike just winding up your race season...

My ass was handed to me, but on a paper plate with chili and wieners!

Tarik Saleh said...

BBB,
cool thanks, it takes a long ass time to write seemingly stream of conscious race reports, I appreciate that people often get to the end and then come back for more later...

Antoine,
I am not afraid to say I have been dropped by guys riding fixie 27" road bikes in fairly technical singletrack.

NFS,
Good costume with chili and wieners! Yay indeed.

Thanks for reading.

Tarik

gpickle said...

Well it took me awhile but I made it through, well done Tarik! What about that big dummy? Might have been fun. Or not.

I don't know how much of that trans iowa stuff you read ever and I surely do not urge you to check it out but I was happy to see that one of the asterisked short-course finishers was riding a KELLY.

Frenchy aka Bike Boy said...

Great race report.