I don't know how I did it, nor do I fully understand why it happened, but for some reason the crazy notion to race my rigid single speed 29er at last night's Full Throttle race turned out really, really well.
All day at work I was nervous, staring at my ss leaning against the wall of my office across from my desk, wondering what I had gotten myself into. To make matters worse, I decided to bring my Salt Cycling 29 & Single jersey and Twin Six 6" Argyle socks instead of my Revolution team kit. So instead of blending in with the other racers (there are a ton of Revolution folks that show up for the weekly race) I would stand out. And standing out when you're slow isn't fun.
Luckily Mark A. (who has had a very impressive start to his Utah mountain bike racing career) had some friendly words of advice for me: If you can't be fast you should at least look good. He then pulled up his pant leg and flashed the knee high, striped, multi-color SmartWool women's socks he was wearing and explained that at RawRod he knew he wouldn't be the fastest guy there, but by wearing those socks, at least he'd be one of the better dressed riders.
His sage advice calmed my nerves and gave me the confidence to proceed as planned. One other thing I did differently this week was to arrive early and ride a lap of the course as a warm-up. On the single speed, which requires a bit more leg on the climbs, I think this was a big deal. If I had started the race with a shorter warm-up like I did last week I think it would have had dire consequences as the potential to blow up on the climbs would have been much greater.
I had a more conservative start due mainly to my gear limitations - I was spun out rather quickly on the double track. Same story on the initial section of fast, slightly downhill singletrack with the tailwind. However, I think spinning out was a good thing as it prevented me from pushing too hard, too soon, and smoking my legs before the climbs. Speaking of which, my legs were completely toasted at the top on both laps. You may climb faster on a single speed out of necessity but it's certainly not any easier nor does it hurt any less. If anything it hurts more since you don't have the option of shifting to an easier gear. Which, I think, may be the secret to my good performance: With fresher legs entering the climbs, and no option to downshift, I had no choice but to ride hard.
It will be interesting to see if this was a fluke performance or if I'll be able to replicate my good result (for me) next week. Assuming, of course, that my wife doesn't have a baby next week. Her due date is June 12th and, given that our previous two children arrived early, she could pretty much go anytime. Unlike yesterday, if the baby hasn't come by Wednesday, I'll probably be racing with my cell phone!
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