Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
So another DINO race occurred this past weekend. I wasn't able to make the last two due to distance and a scheduling conflict (my bad). I had been counting down the days because I wanted to see if my new exercise routine would help me in the standings. I've been doing crunches and push-ups on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and have been steadily increasing my rep counts. I also had a first last week in that I rode to work all five days.
What might have been a precursor to the results of this weekend was a broken spoke on my rear wheel. If you've been reading, this happened after the first race I did this season. This time, it happened during my commute!
Anyways, since I was at the bike shop and the work was going to take around 20 minutes, I decided to take a bike out for a demo. I had been looking at the Trek Fuel EX8 since the latest Bicycling mag came bundled with the latest Mountain Bike. There it was, spread out on pgs. 3 and 4 in green and white glory. Up until this point I wasn't looking for a full-suspension bike and had planned on staying with GT for my offroad needs. But after careful examination of the rear-suspension setup I knew I had to try it out. Suffice it to say, this WILL be the replacement for my current bike. Not this year, and maybe not next but definitely for the 2010 season.
OK, back to this weekend. I can honestly say that this was first time I fully prepared before leaving for the race. I had the bike fully prepped and the car loaded early. We did arrive at the park a few minutes later due to a self-imposed detour (DOH!), but we still managed to get there with enough time to get Dana and the kids unloaded and me registered.
I could tell from the start that this was going to be good race for me. It was dry which made it very fast. There wasn't a lot of elevation changes but there was a few, very steep, get-off-your-bike-and-climb ones, including one that was more than 75ft. Since the course would normally be about 8 miles, the beginner course was laid out into a pseudo 2-lap course of around 13 miles. This would be the longest ride for me all season.
Since I always start at the back of the pack, it was a great feeling to pass 3 riders not even a quart mile into it. The bike was pedaling smoothly and I was able to keep it in the middle chainring. Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but the Marzocchi fork that I have is in need of some work so it wasn't unexpected when the air was gone about 5 or 6 miles in. This would be something I could handle except that some of France Park's trails run over exposed limestone, which can be very rough. Basically the fork was banging off the stops with a noticable clank on the really hard stuff.
At this point, other than the fork, things were still going really well. I was able to pass people while climbing up a hill! It felt so good knowing that my hard work was paying off. One highlight of the course was where you come out of the trees and your overlooking water that's about 100ft. down. You can see the cliffs here in the background:
Sorry, stock photo.
But this good feeling wouldn't last too much longer. With about 3 miles left to go the chain started dropping from the middle to small chainring. At first I thought maybe the bumpiness from the bottomed-out fork was causing the chain to jump but this was not the case. I decided to stop and take a closer look. Turns out the chain was broken, or nealy so. One of the outside plates was popped off a pin and pushing the chain over as it went through the front derailleur. Since I had no tools on me, much less a repair link, I dropped to the small chainring and pressed on. I hoped I could ride it out.
But this was not to be the case. With about a mile and half left, the chain failed as I came to the top of a small incline. I stared in disbelief, the chain layed out from the rear derailleur. I scooped up the chain and hopped on the bike and pushed with my feet. This section of the course was a short bit of paved trail so it wasn't a big deal. I pushed a ways but that was it. I posted a DNF for the second time this season.
Looking over the results I know would have finished around 25th, and I would have been extremely happy about that. I also would have finished had I had the basic repair tools with me. Any competent rider knows you should carry a pump, patches, chain tool and repair link with you at all times. I feel like a total idiot for not having them.
On the way home it was decided that my bike definitely needed some TLC. So, right now the bike is in the garage with no chain and a fork that's completely dismantled. I also have over $100 in parts on order. I hope to get the bike back to where I can be confident with it.
The last race of the season is coming up next month and I WILL be ready for it.