Tuesday, April 1, 2008


With Columbia being a little under 3.5 hours away from Knoxville, and the singlespeed race starting at 10:30 central time, we figured leaving at 7:00 eastern time would give us more than enough time to get to the race. After Jeremy called me at 6:50 to let me know he had just woken up, we finally got rolling around 7:30. The drive over was pretty uneventful, until our directions ended in the middle of the highway around 10:00 CT. We called some fellow knoxvillians to see what their directions said, and ended up backtracking almost 30 miles to get to the park. We turned into the park around 10:28.

Seeing the time crunch coming, I had changed clothes in the car and got my gear together as best I could. On arrival, I jumped out of the car, got the bike off the rack, and headed to the start/finish, hoping my tires had air in them. As I climbed up to the registration, I could see the singlespeed field coming down the road to drop down into the field. Great, first race of the year, and I get to play catch up. I went on up to the registration, and managed to get my number and timing chip with only minimal difficulty. By the time I got the number plate and chip on and got to the start line, the 19-29 Sport and the 30-39 Sport had both gone off. I figured the 5 minutes I gave up would be tough to pull back, but I took off to get as much time back as I could. After a few minutes I had managed to catch up to the back of the 30-39 and started passing through the traffic. The course was really sloppy at this point, and I was coated with mud within half a lap or so. I was really happy to finally catch a few singlespeeders about 2/3 of the way through the first lap. I kept a steady pace for the rest of the race, and was consistently picking more people off. Since I was doing the expert race afterwards, I was trying to find out what place I was in so I could decide whether to sprint the lap to gain time or to just pace it to save for the next race. I passed one guy, and he thought he was around 7th. Sweet, moving up. A minute later I passed another guy, and he thought he was in 13th. Not so sweet… As I was nearing the finish, I saw another singlespeeder up ahead. I gunned it on the uphill finish and closed the gap, but got beat by about a second. Unbelievably, I actually ended up finishing the SS in 5th, so I was pretty happy about that, all things considered.

The plan was then to go down to the car to grab a gel and switch bottles out. Going with the theme of the day, I looked over after the finish to see the expert field already lining up to start. I ran over to the registration to swap my number and chip out, and got the number plate on the bike. With the mud, I figured I would let my superfly stay shiny, and that I would just race the Rig again. Forgetting the bottles, I pedaled up to the queue, and heard the announcer call out “1 minute.” As the race started with about a ¼ mile of fireroad, and then a ¼ mile of asphalt, I was starting to question my singlespeed decision. When the horn went off, the field jumped, and I was immediately spit out the back spinning like a madman watching the field fade away. I had to bust out laughing halfway down the fireroad, as I don’t think I have ever been dropped so hard before on any ride. Since I was DFL, I just went with the endurance pace at this point to get some miles in and finish the race. The course kept getting better lap after lap, and by the 2nd lap of the expert, it was tacky enough that you really didn’t get dirty. My gearing was pretty good for most of the course, as there was only one longer climb that I had to walk on the 4th and 5th laps. I managed to pick 4 or 5 people off during the race, and finished up 12th out of 17. I was happy with the workout on the day, covering a muddy 45 miles in a little less than 4.5 hours. The double race was def a good experience. I’d like to try it again, but I don’t know of any other races that really stagger the SS and expert races enough to make it work.

Jeremy ended up having a worse day than I. He got up to the registration a few minutes after I did, and the USCF woman wouldn’t let him get his number plate without seeing his license. By the time he got down to the car and then made it back, he had lost a good 15 minutes or so on the group. So when he got done with the SS, the experts were way gone already. He roughed it out though and finished the three expert laps anyways. I think he even timed it well enough to come across the line in 7th place in the First Timers race. After some bathing in the creek to clean up, we finally headed back to Knoxville, and I finally got home at 11:00 pm. I’m not sure how I was convinced we would be back by 7:00 or 8:00, but I was way off. The day definitely didn’t go as planned, but what else can you do but laugh it off? At least it was a good workout.


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