I think this is the 6th time I have lined up for this race. Probably have done 5 different version of the race. My best rememberance:
2003: I catted up to expert so I could do the stage race. Stage 1, friday night time trial on bridges trail, stage 2: started with the rodeo parade downtown over to perimeter, up pipeline over to the ski hill down canada bonita and then pajarito canyon to finish at the base of the ski hill, Stage 3: god awful circuit race on the ski hill trails. I did OK. I think I did OK in stage 1. Flatted in stage 2. Suffered in stage three, but I was the only single speeder period, and one of a couple dozen people that completed all three stages. I was likely DFL in my expert age category.
2004: Big loop, bridges to perimeter to up pipeline to canada bonita to ski hill to ?????? I can't remember because I had just moved back to town and was not acclimated yet and I made it to pipeline and about a half mile past that and tossed my cookies. I turned around and rode less than half a mile to the apartment I was renting and slept for a few hours. I think there was no single speed class, but may have been some other single speeders this year.
2005: two stage race. Stage one: Quemazon trail hill climb from the parking lot to the intersection with pipeline. Stage two: painful circuit race on the ski hill. A single speed class, maybe 2 single speeders on day one and 5-6 on day two. I won the hill climb and came in second on the circuit race which only three singlespeeders finished.
my best Hincapie impression in the 2005 race
2006: Big loop race. Ski lodge, over canada bonita, down guaje ridge and three bears, across perimeter, up pipeline back down canada bonita to the lodge. race report here. Crashed hard then bonked and then finished in a few ticks under 4 hours. Last of the single speeders who finished. But I did finish.
2006 post race, still wear scars from the crash on the pumice ball bearings on 3 bears
2007: Last year that the big loop happened. I was signed up but was violently ill race morning and did not race. Dammit.
2008: First of the current course, I was out of town that weekend.
2009: Current course. Start at ski hill parking lot, up canada bonita, back to lodge, mini loop on the left side of the ski hill and then either one or two loops up the single track on the right side of the ski hill all the way over the top and then back down the single track and fire roads on the left. They had the single speeders start with the pro/experts and do the full two loop course. course map here. 18 miles and 3200 feet climbing. Big single speed field. I started slow and then passed lots of single speeders who died horrible deaths on the first over the top loop and then more on the second over the top loop and ended up in third. Ha. My hands were bloody messes due to the really rough downhill from the top of the ski hill. I could barely brake my forearms were so pumped up. But I outlasted everyone else, except for those two fast guys who were way ahead of me.
The singlespeed-expert-pro profile in 2009
2010. This year they (presumably due to the attrition last year) started the single speeds with the sport and had us do only one top to bottom loop. So 12 miles and 2100 feet climbing. I was slightly bummed out because the only thing that kept me competitive last year was the sheer brutality of the second over the top lap. But I was mostly OK with it as I had not been doing my climbing rides this year. So I showed up in my new team kit and got my racing on. I was running my usual Pajarito Punishment gear of 32-20. My mom was visiting again this year so yet again I dragged her up the mountain to watch me flail about in a race. She took most of the pics here. Thanks ma.
Conditions were really dry and dusty, but the course was in good shape. there was a strong single speed field present. I started off pretty strong up canada bonita, passing people all the way up. the descent back to the lodge on the upper xc ski trails was way faster and rougher than I remember. I nearly double flatted once due to a bad high speed line.
Up the mini loop I did some great climbing and felt OK, but was a bit perturbed that I saw no other singlespeeders anywhere near me once we started climbing. I passed a bunch of sport riders here. The descent back to the ski lodge was high speed on loose fire roads. Probably my least favorite type of descending. I rode like a grandma on the descent losing a bunch of places I had gained earlier.
As we started the single track big climb, I felt pretty good. As I worked my way through the sport riders I did realize I was not as on it as I could be. Last year I just steadily passed people the whole way up, sprinting by them when I could pass and then easily dropping them as I moved on to the next rider. This year it seems it was all I could do to pass people without blowing up. I was still moving forward, but i was having lots of trouble recovering from passing people.
The climb goes on forever it seems criss crossing the ski slopes with little switchback bits between the runs. Occasionally i could look up course and see riders above me, but i could not see any single speeders anywhere. I just kept riding and churning the pedals up the course. I had some nice cyclocross action going toward the top of the course on some steep technical bits where I was able to pass people, but overall it was a meh climb instead of the power display I put on last year (with my legs of steel! boo yah! Is anyone still reading?).
After hitting the top of the climb we were treated to a gale blowing over the caldera and a welcome drink stand. I began the descent that was way steeper, more technical and rougher than I remembered. Before the race I could really focus on was how much climbing there was, but what really hurt me was the descending. Anyhow, I cleaned almost everything on the way down (except for that one stupid ramp and dropoff that is not worth me trying when I am tired) and took it safe and sane, but since the course was a bit looser this year due to the dry and I did not put the riders away like I did with my brilliant attacking as I did last year, I got passed by nearly EVERYONE I passed going up. Sheesh. I could tell I was descending terribly because my forearms still worked and I could still brake comfortably at the end of the race. I had hardly any blisters on my hands. Whuss.
I finished the race and noted still no singlespeeders near me. A whole lot of them at the finish line though. Turns out I finished 7th among 9 finishers. I think there were at least 10, perhaps 12 of us on the start line, but meh. I at least was sort of near the 4 people ahead of me. The next singlespeeder behind me was 25 minutes back. That sort of explains why I saw no one. Mellow Velo Dave was there enjoying fine adult beverages in cans.
It was a good race. I like this course, I miss the big loop, but I think lots of people hate those courses as they are too hard. I hope to be a steel legged attacking single geared assassin next year, but this year, as my buddy Denny told me, at least I won the tubby guy clydesdale single speed rigid 26er category. That I did.
Thanks to the sponsorship crew of Team Tarik, Paul Components, Mellow Velo and Kelly Bike. Your tubby singlespeeder carries the flag for you! Big thanks to the race organizers as well. I love local races and those who make em happen. This is a good painful race.
One Step Forward, Three Steps Back?
45 minutes ago