Now on my third cup of coffee I set off to try and convey how much fun I had yesterday racing my bike. This post will be a race report of my experience at the 6 hr. Grind on the Greenway
It was my fist visit to Anne Springs Close Greenway in Fort Mill SC. Yeah I had no idea how fun these trails were going to be. Bonus only an 1:30 drive to the race venue.
Racing the Grind would be a great tune up for PMBAR, now only 3 weeks away. I figured it would be one of the only ways to fully commit to riding my bike for more than 3 hours at one time. Then throw in a training ride at race pace. Plus an overgeared SS to simulated the pain that awaits me at PMBAR. There you have it my plan, now lets see what happens.
The start was a mass start at the bottom of a grass climb. Zapper, will be my name for this dang hill. So - GO climb the Zapper to the S/F line hair pin turn with 60+ jacked riders. Down a gravel Forest road. Funnelling into a fast section of singletrack. Then down along a river trail. Then a bunch of turns. Followed by some mud, roots, rocks and some bridges. As always the first lap is nerve racking. Do you go out hard and above your threshold just for position? Or do you use patience and ride into race pace and pick your way through the blown riders? These are the million dollar questions one would ask ones self.
Caught up in the excitement and go to my LT and try the patience thing. It never fails to get caught up behind a rider who believes they can start up front then slow to a claw in the woods. Yeah every race I see it. No worries about it. It's my pre-ride after all.
Somewhere during lap 1 a rattle starts to gain my attention. Figures I just passed about 6 or so riders now I'm assessing the situation. Um looks like a broken bottle cage. No problem rip it off and keep on chugging along. At the completion of lap 1 climbing the Zapper at a snails pace. Holy crap this is going to be a long 6 hours. About 20 minutes into my 2nd lap my gear selection is really starting to drain me. Then I hear someone behind me yelling with excitement "hey man these trails rule and this On-One Inbred SS I'm riding is kicking ass" or something to that nature. That's right Joe caught me on lap 2 and dropped me like dirty wet wipe. Shnikes this is really going to be a long day. Joe I'm not taking anything away from you, but you dropped me quickly. Good job on your ride.
After another pass up the Zapper still at at snails pass. I stop for some pb&j sandwich and my hydration pack. Now out on 3rd lap the trail is looking better with every passing lap. There was no traffic. With the trail to myself I tend to zone out on occasions. Crossing this well constructed bridge. The one that was guide wires on both ends for extra support. A very tight squeeze. Too tight on this pass. As my barend snags the guide wire slinging me to the ground. Fiddle Sticks! I saw that coming sometime today. Ok now were did may bar end go. Uhh it's no longer attached to my bar.
As I start looking through the ground cover for my missing bar end, six or seven riders go cruising by. This would be the cut that really stings. Motivation has taken a nose dive for sure now. Found the missing bar end reinstalled it. Everyone who uses Ergon grips knows it takes some time to adjust the rotation on them. Well that doesn't happen on the trail with a gazillion turns and dips.
Another turn up the Zapper then to the pits. Grab another pb&j and off I go. Laps to this point have be somewhat consistent at around 57-61 minutes. By this time into lap 4 I was in survival mode. Just trying to keep it together and maintain an upright riding position. Then another craw up the Zapper I would check yet another laps off. With still 2+ hours to go till the end. The cramps were coming in waves. Mostly in my hands and neck. Struggling on every climb now, walking more than I wanted, it was just necessary to maintain forward momentum.
Completed lap 5 and I was beat. A headache had started about two laps earlier and it was all I could handle at the time. I pulled into the pits sat down and contemplated what to do. Man this camp chair sure is comfy. After about 10 minutes I decided to turn in my chip. Made it 5 hours of the 6. One lap short of my goal. Still 40+ miles of SSS (suffering single speed) bliss. All in all a good ride at a great place to ride and a top notch event.
I'll finish this post with saying thanks to Neil and the folks in Charlotte for put on another great race experience. The event had a convenient location, ample services, instant timing, great course, competition in all classes and food at all times during the day. Every cyclist should give a try.