Monday, November 12, 2007
slick as snot
In the parallel universe that is Vermont, it seems that the driest summer and fall on record still isn't enough to dry out the muddy track at Putney West Hill's cross course. Last year the track was greasy, but it had been misting all morning and much wetter in the weeks before hand. This year, with hardly a spare drop of water to be found, the course was once again slick and of course... fun as hell!
My travelling companion (he who is not to be named) arrived just as the first races of the day were starting. This course is old school... around the barn, over a few mounds of dirt, back towards the broken down car, behind the shop, into the field, up the run up and through the parking lot to do it all over again. The "line" was well worn, a perma-dirt offering that has seen many miles of racing. Off the "line" was a mixture of grass, potholes, debris, corn stalk, thicker mud, and bramble, not to mention the occasional out structure or stump. As each lap of the first race ticked off, one could notice an increasing percentage of riders emblazoned with large swaths of brown markings up their flank and backsides, as if the course itself was trying to recruit each rider onto team Gooey Bottoms under Directeur Sportif Haacken Von Phlemmybooger.
No call ups or order of reg funny business so promptly to the starting grid we go for the elite master's race. At the "go!" (let's chip in and buy this woman a whistle, eh?) I'm up the hill and 3rd or fourth over the barrier. A group of three formed and rode away from me after a lap. I was in between groups for three laps which cost me some energy on the straight as the wind was howling. When the 45+ studs and lead juniors finally caught me I was happy to get a break and sit in some, but soon enough they were off as well. I could feel that the seat post has gone back to slipping again, my fault for effin' with it after is was behaving so nicely for a few weeks. I was way out on 6th place, so with two laps left I went into preservation mode. One key to success was staying off the "line." Tires would pack with mud when on "line" rendering them nearly useless when attempting to steer, slow, or accellerate. Time spent off "line" helped clear excess goo and maintained the original skinsuit appearance.
At the bell I pick up a stowaway: a stick, or reed, or something organic that has wrapped itself around the freehub between the cassette and spoke. This created a fixed gear effect in that if my wheel is turning so is the drivetrain. Except I need to coast... and run... at least two more time each to finish this race. When I do, off pops the chain. I stop and get it back (never though to just remove the stick). Four of those and I'm fighting for my spot. Four guys go by in the last 100 meters leaving me 10th. Helicopter Matt was the last one, pipping me at the line: I on foot, he on bike. He even flashed me the look. ( see here, here, and here) Pissed, I tossed the bike and new helmet in disgust and sulked for 10 minutes or so.
He who is not to be named crashed trying to clip into his pedals, putting himself DFL 10 feet past the start line. He who is not to be named then biffed it on lap two, going too hard to make up ground no doubt, and bent his derailleur hangar. He who is not to be named was at the car with helmet on and beer in his hand just 7 or 8 minutes after the official yelled "go!" at him. Zank rode well, but knows he should have been at the front of his group going into the run up. Just that is the difference between 3rd and 6th. Eyebob looked good as always and took the picture above, thanks. Rosey was back in his field and sporting a bloody nose at the end of the race that was news to him. Ibex was there with some very nice but "pricey" clothing. Was expensive not sufficient that we had to invent pricey?