If there's one thing I love in this world, it's racing my bicycle. So whenever there's an opportunity to do so, I agree, and do it to it. Slaughter Pen Jam was on my schedule of races I wanted to do anywho, and so when JPB asked if I wanted to go, I hesitated not. I rarely hesitate to go race... Throw in some unknown racers who I haven't raced yet, in a new venue I've never ridden, on a hot September day, and I'm even more game.
I spent Friday night dogsitting the most awesome dog in the world. Stella, Burnsey's boxxer, needed someone to watch over her while her owners were gone, so I happily agreed to help a fellow friend out. By time Sunday came around and I had to eventually head home, I was ready to steal Stella. She was such a fun and easy going dog.
Saturday I met JPB and down 71 we headed. That was until about a mile down the road when we ran into stopped traffic. Being it was 9am on a Saturday morning, we figured something weird had to be going on for traffic to be at a standstill. Noticing people standing outside their cars, and running around frantically pretty much tipped us off that some crazy shit was going down. Turns out it was a poodle on the loose, running straight down the highway, while it's owner and multiple other people tried chasing it down. Traffic couldn't really go anywhere, cause this little yapper was all over the place, and no one wanted to be the one to run it over. It wasn't that the poodle was too fast for everyone, it was the fact that anytime someone tried to go and grab it, it would pull a Cujo and try to rip their fingers off. Finally pinned under a car, the owner nabbed it just in time for everyone to cheerfully clap, but much more time wasted and they very well coulda angerily beat the shit out of him.
So that was a very interesting way to start the day.
Things would again get interesting when we arrived in Bentonville, and had no idea where to go. We happened to be posted up on our phones in a government parking lot, when this SUV with bikes came whizzing through and we quickly agreed following it would be a good idea. Luckily it was, and I'm certain that the wild goose chase it sent us on would have never been achieved had it been up to me and JP to find the venue. Finally we turned on a dirt road, through a farm gate, over a creek, and BAM! There's the venue, looking packed and full of like minded individuals.
So that's a double dose of interesting.
Interestings should always come in three's in my opinion. With that being said, I was cautiously waiting for what would be interesting bout number three. My luck would have it, it came. It came in the form of a bent rear brake pad spring. You know, that little spring that holds the brake pads together? Ya, it was bent, and making all sorts of loud, annoying, and otherwise unsafe noises, along with dragging on my rotor something serious. This was 20 minutes before race start. I kinda spent too much time in the AC of the Flex and time got away from me.
I've become a pretty decent mechanic over the years of fixing my always common untimely mechanicals, so it only took about 10 minutes for me to finally figure out that I would just have to cut the one arm of the spring off, and make due. Make due it did, and off on my 10 minute pre-ride I went.
They started us off in waves, and it looked like there were 30 or so experts overall. Not a huge turnout, but that's a labor day race for ya. With that being said, it was still twice the turnout we have at our races, and not knowing anyone is always fun. You just never know which one of the jokers could play a wildcard on you. There were 8 or so in my group, and before I knew it the announcer counted 3,2,1. I took off like a rocket wanting to stage second or at worst, third wheel. Well, turns out no one wanted to really challenge me, so I took off blindly at a slightly slower than the speed of light pace down the trail I knew nothing about.
That's always fun... Racing a trail you know nothing of. It's even funner when you're the one leading. It's like opening up a present, over and over and over again. Every corner is new, every straight stretch, every rock and root. It was a blast just railing this ever so sweet trail, at a nice fast pace but not too fast. With 3 - 9 mile laps, I made sure not to go out hot. Not to forget to mention hot, it was upwards of 95 degrees when we started. So the first lap I took it easy, kept the HR down low, and just enjoyed railing this trail that I was soon finding out everything about.
The trail was broken into three sections. Each had it's own unique flow, with the third being my favorite. The last mile or two of the trail coming into the start finish was this blazing fast pumptrackish trail. I was in my biggest gear and hammering each time. It was actually easier to go fast, and you would get some sweet air lofting off all the little bumps and short ups. The rest of the trail was mainly benchcut, fast, and very flowy stuff. Some decent climbing, but nothing crazy long or hard.
Lap two and I'm still in the lead. I haven't wrecked yet. I was feeling good. Then WAM! I hit the deck... Hard. Not even sure what happened. I think I was taking a drink and daydreaming of what new color cordination I should do on the Jake this winter. I quickly gathered myself and figured out that I should probably start paying attention. This was a kind of trail that you could wander off a bit on, but as soon as you did you usually hit the deck. I'd do it again later in the lap, but I don't think that one hurt as bad. *Note - The benchcut was my ultimate enemy. I would get caught up in the high side of the benchcut, usually at a very high speed and around a corner, and it was all down to the ground after that. I need to put racing on benchcut better on my list of shit to work on.
Lap 3 was pretty rough. I was getting tired, hot, and all I could think about was stopping and going for a swim in the crystal clear creek waters we passed over multiple times each lap. I wanted to be done, but I still had 9 miles standing in my way. This is where the good wrecks started to pile up. All four of them. Well, at least two were REALLY good, with the other two just being minorly good. I'm still alone at this point, but each time I pick myself up out of the dirt, or have to re-adjust my handlebars, I think that someone is bound to catch me.
In the end no one did... Although the verdict for the overall is still under question. I was pretty spent after it was all said and done, and didn't really keep time of how long it was till 2nd came through. It ended up being a 40-49 year old, who I think started 6 minutes behind me. So it's possible he took 1st overall, and I took 2nd. They didn't pay out overall and I didn't get to see the times so who knows. I was happy regardless. I had a decent race, minus all the wrecking, and I had a great time flossing the trails for at least 20 of the 27 miles. Not to mention I got a decent wad of cash for winning my age group. Why we think XC races need to be so long though I'll never know. I'd rather race 18-21 miles anyday.
So that's it... Another race down. Arkansas was a state I haven't raced yet this year, and I'm glad we made the trip. It was a fairly short drive, and they did a great job with the course and overall race experience. I'm sure we'll be down again next year. Who knows, maybe even more than once...
Yesterday was my Mum's birthday.
This is her now.
This is what she looked like as a kid.
She's the greatest mum ever. I may be a little biased on that one. She'll always be young in my book, and I'll always be her little boy. Happy 50th momma!
Maybe Sac this weekend? Or maybe a weekend off. Or who knows, maybe even some Lizard action. Or did I just see some Masher action?
So many choices.