I woke up Saturday with an intense desire to race but also a keen sense that I should go find something else to do. My sprained thumb still was an issue. In fact, it was so painful still that I had a hard time buttoning my pants and tying my shoes. I could grip the bars ok but it really hurt to use the front brake on my cross bike, the singlespeed was a little better with the flat bar and Ergon grips. Conventional wisdom would say grab a cowbell and go hang out with my pals and watch the race. Duckman wisdom is sometimes in direct conflict with conventional wisdom however, and when that happens, it usually ends bad. I went to the venue and signed up for three classes - CX4, Masters 35+ and Singlespeed.
I warmed up for about 30 minutes on my trainer and then went out for a couple of hot laps. The course was really bumpy and I had trouble with hanging onto the bars in the rougher parts. On my second lap, I scouted out some better lines and dropped my tire pressure another 5 lbs in the front to #38. I went to the line for CX4 hoping for the best. I actually got a decent start and adrenalin fueled my first lap. On lap two, I began to have trouble hanging on and braking in some of the really tight corners. I began to fade. Lap three brought more fading and my hand got knocked off my bars twice. By then, I was in the front of a group of my friends that included Mark Prince (Mark has improved an impressive amount this year), Alan Sparks and David Smith. Mark got by me and I had the intentions of keeping him close and attacking on the barriers on the last lap because I noticed he had a little trouble with them. David and Alan were far enough back, I didn't think they would be a threat.
That is until I crashed on the eff'in barriers!
Yep going over the first ones, my bike clipped the top of the barrier and the pain from my thumb caused me to let go of it. I then tripped over it and fell. The pain in my hand caused me to curse in tongues. It was bad - the kind that makes you want to curl up with a blanket and suck your thumb like a baby. I got up and got back on my bike and headed towards the finish thinking Mark was gone and maybe David and Alan didn't catch me. In the last corner just before the Redline Run-up, David tries to strong arm me and we go into the tape (but not off the course too bad) while Alan tries to slip by on the inside on both of us. It was like racing motocross again. I think that 30yds of the race was the most fun I had all series long. At the top of the run-up, I was done. I didn't even try to race anymore. I just wanted to go home.
I didn't start the Masters race and just sat under Alan's EZ-up with a bag of ice on my hand. I was bummed out mostly because I love to race and all I could do was sit there and watch. I kept the ice on my hand for a while and then took it off and grabbed my singlespeed to go ride around a bit. The singlespeed is a lot more comfortable than my cross bike and the Ergon grips especially gave my hand enough support to ease the pain quite a bit. I went back and got on my trainer to get warm (it was cold but I knew I was going to race again) and I lined up for the singlespeed race.
I got another good start and although I faded towards the end and ended up outside the top ten, I felt much better than I did in the earlier race. My Vassago hasn't let me down all year. It's a great bike. I decided to do my best and to have fun. There was a group gathered by the Redline Run-up giving stuff away to people that tried to ride it and cash for anyone that actually did. I tried every lap and got the closest on my first attempt but never made it. It was just too steep and my gearing was way to high for that Tom-foolery. I did get some nice MSG socks though.
photo credit: Jennifer Dayton Church
And thus ended my 2008 racing season. Many thanks to Eric Wondergem and Dwayne Letterman for the Mud, Sweat and Gears Series, all the volunteers and sponsors that made it happen (and continue to make it happen), you guys ROCK!
And finally, to everyone that I rode and raced with this year, that encouraged me, forced me to be better and those of you that keep coming back here to see what I wrote, Thank you.
2008 was fun, 2009 (only 4 weeks until the FIRST RACE whoo hoo!!!) will be even better.