Sunday, August 17, 2008

Feeling Foolish

I made it just in time for the Fool's Gold 50mile race in Dahlonega, GA. Don't ask me why I never checked the start time for the race and just assumed it was 7:30AM. No pancakes from Trisha for the pre- race breakfast but she did give me a nice neck massage the night before. I noticed on the drive over from Etowah River Campground to the race that I was the only one on the road and remembered something from last year about starting at 7AM. No time to panic so I got parked and assembled my bike with one hand while pulling on my snazzy BCC kit, helmet, gloves, shoes, and camelbak with the other.

As I rolled up to the start the gun was going off so I jumped onto the back and started the first big climb with lots of people between me and the other singlespeed riders I'd be competing against. I finally caught up with a couple of riders that were forced into the same low cadence as me. I chatted with Mike from Macon for awhile as we passed some other SS's. I let him get ahead because my plan was to conserve enough energy to really rip the downhills and still have enough to ride the last set of climbs in the race without cramping. I pass Mike as he's pulling over with a flat. "That sucks" I yell to him. I would find out first hand how bad.

I roll past the first sag and finish up the first set of fireroad feeling great. The singletrack was welcome and I was staying right behind a guy on full suspension. Then I feel the rear is low on air. Pull over and foolishly try to get air in the tire and swish my tire sealant around to get the hole filled up. Doesn't work too good when there is no sealant left. Got a tube in as I watched a bunch of people pass me by. Man am I slow at fixing flats. I notice a broken spoke too but bend it around a couple of good ones and try not to give it another thought. Thankfully that was my last mechanical problem but I felt like I wasted too much time getting back on the bike.

I needed a sandwich at the second sag but took it on the road. This quick pause probably got me by 90% of the people who passed me while fixing my flat (at least I told myself this to make me feel better). There was some pretty steep singletrack climbing so I just walked and ate for a little bit and then started riding. Lots of climbing in this section so I used it to pass several folks, at least two singlespeeds. I was working hard especially to pass but still felt like I was being conservative and saving something for later. The downhills that followed were awesome and I remembered following Dave through some of this on the race last year. Trying to hold his wheel on downhills really pushes me out of my comfort zone but it's given me alot more confidence.

The second half of the race had more climbs than I remembered and that's even with them taking Jake Mountain out. Got kind of worn down and was walking more than I would have liked. Got another sandwich at a sag stop but once again took it on the road and was able to eat while riding on the fireroads. The volunteers at the three places I stopped were really helpful and quick to get me what I needed. Really glad to have them there. I felt a little better but one singlespeed rider I was hanging with for awhile got ahead and I didn't forsee catching him with the way he was consistently climbing everything we came to.

I did catch back up with Macon Mike on the last section of climbing and that gave me a boost of morale. He had just finished fixing his second flat so I felt lucky to only have one myself. I rode almost everything else from that point and was able to stay with Mike. The few times I tried to test him, he didn't have a problem holding his lead on me. I even tried to sneak in a finish line sprint but he noticed me just in time and took the photo finish. It was all just in fun and hopefully pushed him to finish a little bit faster than he would have. The competition definitely kept me going stronger than I would have solo.

I didn't have time to stick around and see how I placed but my time was just under 5.5hours which was the goal I set for myself. Trisha, Luke, and our friends Lee and Stacy were waiting back at the campground for me so we could go get lunch and go tubing on the Etowah River. FYI: don't tube on the Etowah until Georgia gets more rain. It was about half walking, half floating. Still felt alot better than pedaling for 50miles.


DukePirate said...

Sorry to hear about the flat -- I think that's about where I got my first one last year.

I like the image of you getting to the line just as the race starts (also reminiscent of last year), and heading up the fireroads while nonchalantly snacking on a sammy.

Congrats on finishing!

DukePirate said...

Oh, and which one was Jake Mountain? I just remember a seemingly endless succession of rollers in the second half of the course, but then again I wasn't thinking very clearly at that point. Was the course a little closer to 50 miles this time? What was it last year 55 or something like that?

jd said...

Yeah, my flat happened just before where you had the same problem last time. Jake Mtn was the badly rutted stuff which is why they left it out. I think this was closer to 50miles but I have no odometer on the bike so who knows.

co2cycle said...

Great report and great result:
looks like 8th place for Mr. Powers!

I think arriving at the last minute, jumping out of the car, and starting the ride could be a new BCC patented move. We did the running start at Three Mountain Madness, too. said...

congrats dude!!! sounds like i missed a good one. colorado sucked me dry the week before and fedex delivered my bike friday afternoon despite having shipped it first thing monday morning. needless to say after the week in colorado i stripped the bike to the frame and am having to rebuild it from the ground up.

got any photos from fools? was namrita asking about pirate? i know she missed him. haha. sounds like you had a great time and really pushed it. congrats!!! you gonna be at harris lake this weekend last race in the "normal" triangle series.

jd said...

I was styling by arriving late. That would be ninth place for me. They just screwed up by putting me ahead of Mike. He had the edge but we were probably a blur of legs trying to sprint with only one gear.

jd said...

I would have taken colorado over georgia too. Will try to make Harris but probably geared since my rear wheel is missing a spoke at the moment.

felonious said...

JD, That's an incredible result. I think without the late start you might have easily pulled off the top 5 placing that I had predicted in my conversation with Pirate over the weekend. You're our single speed endurance specialist! Congrats again!