It's Monday morning and I find myself in the office feeling both sore and good, not unlike other Monday mornings. Recounting Saturday's race, I wash down a couple of Aleve with a sip of mediocre coffee from the kitchen here at work. In my cube, I shuffle my legs a bit to keep my slacks from sticking to the giant raspberry on my right leg. I loosen my tie in hopes of reliving a little tension from my shoulders. What an awesome race.
Above left: my left leg in 2010 after The Bottle Ride. Above right: my right leg in 2011 after The Bottle Ride.Saturday morning I raced in the 2nd Annual Bottle Ride at Blue Mountain in Peekskill, NY (See last year's race report here). This time, I raced on my rigid single speed. Why? Because I love they way it rides: the flex of the steel, the direct connection to every impact that travels from the wheels up through the frame. Again this year, Georges's efforts in the race preparation, organization, and enthusiasm really paid off! Where else can you find a free race, comprised of a bunch of random cool cats, strong riders, prizes and on trails as brutally epic as the ones at Blue Mountain? Nowhere, mon frere. And so again, this year I raced.
So how did I do? Racers were sent off at 30 second intervals; the race followed the time trial format just as it did last year. Just, like last year, I started off aggressively, over excited and clumsily. I crashed hard, 50' into the race in almost the exact same spot as last year. The start of the course skirts off-camber, along the side of a steep hill and runs through a large rock garden. This is where I stalled, balanced for a moment, then slowly started to fall to the right, down hill. Looking downhill at my landing zone I saw nothing but boulders! And over I went, unable to disengage my cleat from my right pedal. I fell in an almost sitting position, still clipped in on the downhill side. Without a smidgeon of grace and with my arms flailing wildly, I plummeted downhill reaching out at the last second, bracing for impact. Luckily my upper body landed in a wonderful little soft patch of leaves while my hips and legs landed hard on the rocks. Adding insult to injury, my bike came to a stop on top of me.
While I scrambled back up the hill to the trail, I noticed my legs were scraped up but other that, they felt fine so I was eager to get pedaling as soon as possible. A race is no place for standing still you know. It's also not the place for hyped up, adrenaline fueled, clumsy riding. I had to calm myself down and ride smarter. A few minutes further down the trail and I had settled into a rhythm and started to feel very "on". My lines through the technical sections were precise and smooth as I lofted the bike over small rock patches, logs and slippery roots. I passed about 6 people in the first half of the race, and was able to stay ahead of the people behind me which was a really good feeling. My legs were loosened up and I was feeling great. So I began to push it. When I reached the long climb up Ned's Left Lung I just put my head down and chugged up the hill with a steady but ambitious cadence. I puked up a little coffee from earlier that morning, without loosing my focus and continued to turn the cranks.
Half way up Ned's Left Lung, I lost the ability to clip into my left pedal. The 2-year old wings in my Crank Brothers Candy pedals seemed to be stuck in the "open" position and would not close around the cleat in my shoe. I stopped half way up Ned's Left Lung, a grueling climb over loose baby-head sized rocks, grabbed a rock the size of a baseball and gave the pedal a few hard blows (TWSS). the wings snapped back in place and I was able to clip in for a few more feet before the pedal failed again. This time I just kept riding. Riding with only one foot clipped in is very aggravating. Every rock and log I hopped, had my left foot flying off the pedal, so I had to take them much slower than I usually would.
In the end, I think I did pretty well. The winner won with a time of 45:15. I suspect my time was probably somewhere around 60:00, but I won't know until Georges posts the times. Regardless of my time, I had a great time and even made a couple of friends who I plan on riding with. You can never have too many riding buds. Lastly, I want to thank Georges for all of the work he put into the second, Bottle Ride. Thanks G!