Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snake Creek Gap TT Race Report: The "Lite" Version

Coolest plate ever!

Yesterday, I opted to race the 17 miler.  Due to my immune system's inability to conquer a "wimpy" little cold virus in the usual 3-4 day time frame, I felt that it was wise to not push my luck this early in the season.  And what with starting temps in the 20's and a bottom bracket deep creek crossing, it was a no brainer.

The start of the 17 begins with a 1 mile climb out of the Snake Creek Gap parking lot.  For once, I was grateful to be climbing straight out of the gate.  I was warm in no time; however, the frigid cold air burned my throat and lungs.  Once at the top, my legs came around and I felt good enough to hammer in the big ring.  It is amazing that sometimes no matter how bad (sick) you feel, once you are on the bike, all of that vanishes and a smile comes across your face.

Arond mile 4, I was working my way along the ridge and on a short but fast descent, my rear wheel hit a rock hard enough to know that I probably sustained some damage to the rim.  Sure enough, within 60 seconds, I felt my rear tire get squishy.  Optimistically, I told myself I had just burped the tire, so I gave it a shot of CO2 and motored on.  On the long descent down to the multiple creek crossings, my tire got squishy again.  (insert expletive of choice here, as I think I used all of them)  So I pulled over to assess the damage.  Sure enough, my rim had a dent along with a nice puncture at the tread/sidewall interface.

Has saved me more than once from having to throw a tube in.
As I was working on my fix a flat skills, Zeke stopped to offer assistance.  I told him to go on, but he insisted on staying.  I hated to see his race come to an end, but he told me that he wasn't up to speed today anyways.  I know this not to be the case.  But, as many of you know, Zeke is the epitome of a trail angel.  Two plugs and 5 minutes later (gotta get a helluva lot faster), I was back up and rolling.

Snake bit!

The climb up to the final sag was still frozen and I was able to make good time up to the final single track section.  It was here that I was able to enjoy my Heed slushie and get some calories in for the final approach.  Once I was back in my rocky element, I proceeded to pick my way through the rocks and actually looking forward to The Wall.  Three days ago, I had cleaned it.  I was hungry for a repeat.  If I could do it again, but this time at race pace, I knew I would have a chance of accomplishing it during the 34 in February.  Yes, one of my little goals, 10 years in the making.  

On the descent just prior to the wall, I felt my rear tire getting low.  It was a slow leak around the plugs.  It had been 45 minutes since the repair, so I knew I could finish the race by just stopping a couple times and adding some air.  Whew!

As I approached the run up, I began my mantra:  I know I can, I know I can.  About 2/3 of the way up, there is a rocky outcropping that always gets me:  either my front wheel hits it and I come to a complete stop or my rear wheel spins out.  Well today, I came to a dead stop!  Arrgh!  Not having the trials skilz of Tim Cash, I had to unclip, dab, and push my front tire over, and then I was able to continue motoring on the final 1/3.  So close ...

The remainder of the rock gardens were quite pleasant.  I had the lines dialed in and it seemed mostly effortless.  Aside from the tire, the bike was amazing.  Everything worked, the fork, the drive train, the hubs.  (Last year, I was about ready to have a hissy fit, as my fork and shifting crapped out).

I came acrosss the line in 2:05.  I'll take it.  I am looking forward to redeeming myself on the 34 in February.