Snotcycle 2014 shaped up to be a near repeat of Snotcycle 2013 except the snow was a bit deeper. That raised the fun factor just that much more. Going from 7th last year to 3rd this year also made it more fun for sure.
My race began the day before with a recon ride down at Freedom Center. I would normally do a recon ride a couple days earlier but with school closed all week due to snow I was home with the kids. So the day before had to do. It worked out well though. Large sections of the course were/are deep enough to require portage but enough had been ridden by yesterday that I could at least FIND the trail.
It had been a while since I rode a mountain bike and it took 2/3 of the recon lap to both get back in the MTB groove and to bring the cyclocross running legs back online. I spent time learning where running was faster than trying to ride and which sections I could open up on a bit. This proved invaluable during the race. ALWAYS pre-ride the course if practical.
The recon ride also let me work out clothing for the 18F degree race the next day. I dialed in hands, head, and feet. As long as those were ok I knew I could race without stopping due to overheating or freezing.
Morning of, I registered, suited up, and rode the doubletrack start to the first singletrack at near race pace to figure out the lines. Repeated this 3 or 4 times. The key to most MTB and CX races is the holeshot. Get into the singletrack first and make them pass you. Saves effort and lets me pick my own dismount points instead of doing the conga line when others stop on snowy climbs.
Race time neared and I lined up early for a front row start. Some short announcements and we took off. I hit the singletrack first and did not look back for the first 4-5 minutes. Dismounted when needed and charged the hills on foot. Back on the bike and pedal hard. My friend Tim Kelley planned to follow my wheel and try out MTB racing. He decided very early on to take off. Good for him. He beat me by almost 5 minutes by the end winning the race.
I spent the next 1hr 40m sticking to my plan. Granny gear as much as possible and run whatever hills are faster on foot. Finished lap 1 in 2nd place with no one passing me apart from Tim at the start. No one ever got on my wheel which helped me keep the pacing inside the envelope.
The second and final lap was much faster. About 8 minutes faster for me as the snow had packed down a lot more. It was not until the middle of that 2nd lap that the guy who took 2nd place came up behind me. He had a big engine but was fighting the snow. We traded positions several times before he tamed the bike and got some good lines. Smelling the barn he powered away the final mile.
I came in 3rd with him still in sight but just too strong for me to catch. A look behind me saw no one and I finished out my race while repeating to myself, “safe lines, safe lines, safe lines, you have a podium, just get home safe.”
This was the first race in the new VeloWorks-Spokes Etc team kit and I am proud that it resulted in a podium finish. There was no actual podium for this race so I shook hands with the promoter and accepted the cash for the team.
Thanks to Thom Bailey at VeloWorks for the coaching and the VeloWorks-Spokes Etc team for all those miles and inspiration this winter. Also thanks to my wife for keeping the kids happy while I race and train.
Archive for month: January, 2014
– Sean Chisham