A fellow Lowcountry Fat Tire Freak, Robby Bennett, came up with another original idea for a unique race requiring all participants to either race SingleSpeed bikes or stay in one gear of their choice...
The reasoning behind this was to try and level out the playing field. Most riders at Marrington know racing is fast, furious and can greatly depend on gear choices.
So those willing to accept the "restrictor plate" race challenge were ready and waiting on Tuesday June 2nd for the first ever Singles Night Racing...
Onhand were Robby Bennett, Sean Mehaffey, Brad Phillips, Joe Pelton, and myself, Joel Watson, were on hand ready to go!
Joe Pelton had already been riding around the course and was changing gears to something a little higher when I rolled up. I did the math and found he had hit upon my ideal gear combo for Marrington. So much for my only advantage...but he was also riding a 69er, which is basically a 26 wheel in back with a 29 up front...this might help me out a bit... Brad rolled up shortly after I did and came out of his car with parts falling out left and right...After determining what was truly bolted to his bike and what was not, I realized he was running some insanely high gearing of 42x17 or it could have been 42x16...Either way, it was more than 60gear inches and one heck of a high gear to push through Foster Creek. Sean was running a 2x9 gearing and chose a 38x19 gear to plow through the trail I believe...Robby was running SingleSpeed in some secret combination which escapes me...
After some smalltalk concerning course layout and a little exciting buildup to a mutually agreed upon readiness state, we were rolling towards the start....The start simply consisted of Joe Pelton asking us if we were ready to which everyone quickly replied "yeah", and then Joe casually bellowed out a loud "Goooooo!". I believe Joe was expecting everyone to simply cruise out and spread out slowly, but I decided to shake things up early on since I really wanted to see how my legs would fare after a brisk high cadence warmup, so I pulled away with a sprint start. I took off fast and furious, but was soon limited by my gearing choice...not too spinny, not too mashy... There I was spinning like a madman hearing bikes closing up behind...IT really plays on your senses! I surprised myself by reaching the entrance to the singletrack with no real opposition. I knew Joe was playing conservative, but just how much he would allow was still in question. I did not know where Brad was yet, but I am sure he was picking up speed and closing in sooner or later...
The problem with racing against others on SingleSpeeds is that if their bikes are in good shape, you really can't hear em coming until they start backpedaling... Not too many aggressive racers back pedal and this was the case with Joe and Brad. I was holding a decent lead up until a few miles in when I sensed Joe on my wheel...Now nothing wears me out more mentally than someone trailing me inches behind. I immediately assume I am holding them up and will definitely yield if neccessary. I try and pull away looking for a straight line in the singeltrack so I can look back and check my gap, but once again sense Joe pulling me back in. I then yield to let him by and accept second for just a while..but all of a sudden, Brad storms by me with a loud hum coming from his bike...meaning he is hauling some serious ass...so off to third I fall. Racing means having to do lots of improvisations if you are just not strong enough to hold it up front all day long...so I replan my strategy and decide to simply hold their wheels as long and as hard as I can. This worked great because as soon as I started to relax, my legs came back and I was moving along once again...Brad decides he no longer needs his chain to go this fast and throws it once, twice..3 strikes...Brad is out....I kick up my speed and trail Joe like a deerfly in the woods...I follow him through the entire Foster Creek loop and feel myself fade now and then realizing I just cannot pass him...yet.
We exit Foster creeek and enter lower Amazon, both feeling the surge coming back since it is wide open in this area. I look for my moment to pass Joe and it comes when he reaches for his water bottle. As he is occupied, I dart past him hearing him slurp in disgust because he was hoping for a break. No breaks this time around...I tear off through the Amazon, trying like mad to shake Joe off me, but he is strong and experienced and once again passes me....We come out of the Amazon with our minds now set on simply switching the workload back and forth to create a gap between us and a fictitious Brad who we assumed to be gaining on us with each and every passing moment. I pass Joe again and hold it entering the yellow section at Mary's Landing. This is where I think I may finally be able to drop Joe since I can ride through this area practically blindfolded, but upon exiting and looking for a chance to catch my breath, I find Joe steady on my tail, waiting for a chance to pass....I realized too late that he was drafting me since I was exhausted at this point and simply trying to shake him off. His strategy worked perfectly because as soon as I hit the pavement, I was baked. No more fight was coming from me. I hoped he did not sense my fatigue long enough to let me get back into the woods alongside him, but he took off midway down the pavement and kept on gaining speed upon entering the last remaining singletrack yellow area. I tried one last effort to catch him by riding through all the twisties without using any brakes and all technique, but as soon as I caught back up with him, my body said no more.... I managed to keep him within distance until the end, but I had no more fight left in me...What a GREAT mini-race! I think I plucked about 7-10 ticks off of me from cutting corners so tightly and hitting branches, leaves, bushes you name it. My lungs were burning, heart was literally pounding out of my chest for a few moments, but my legs felt pretty darn good.
I am so looking forward to next Tuesday!
2010 Events Schedule
- Nov 7: Swank 65 (Pisgah)
- Sep 18: Pedaling For Peanuts (TEAM) (6th place)
- Sep 14-18: Pisgah Stage Race (CANCELLED)
- July 25: ORAMM (Pisgah) (40 miles+ DNF)
- May 23: Catawba Riverfront Classic XC(4th SS)
- May 8: 6 Hour Grind on the Greenway (12th Mens Open)
- May 1: Tour de Cure (Little Mountain, SC) (CANCELLED)
- Apr 3: 6 Hours of Warrior Creek (12th Place SS)
- Mar 28: After Bridge Run Ride (82miles 3:58)
- Mar 27: Cooper River Bridge Run (58:00)
- Mar 6: Snake Creek Gap Time Trial#3 (4hrs 26min SS)
- Feb 20: 12 Hours of Santos (Ocala Florida) (5th Place SS)
- Feb 6: Snake Creek Gap Time Trial#2 (5hrs 11mins SS)
2009 Events Schedule
- Nov 8: Swank 65 (87th 5:46:06)
- Oct 10:Dirty Spokes 12hrs of Unicoi
- Sep 6: Shenandoah 100(cancelled)
- Aug 20: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #4 (32:43)
- Aug 15: Fools Gold 100 (50mile-10th SS- 5:43:00)
- Aug 6: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #3 (27:45)
- Jul 26: Off Road Assault on Mt Mitchell (7:49:00)
- Jul 23: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #2 (skipped)
- Jul 9: Daniel Island Twilight Fun Run 5K Series #1 (22:00:00)
- Jun 20: Cowbell Challenge Marathon (8th SS)
- Jun 13: Tour de Cure Century (4hrs:45mins)
- Jun 7: Catawba Riverfront Classic (3rd SS)
- Apr 25: Cohutta 100 (cancelled)
- Apr 5: After Bridge Run Ride Century (cancelled)
- Apr 4: Charleston Bridge Run 10k (52:59)
- Feb 15:Myrtle Beach Marathon Bike Ride 63 miles (28th)
- Feb 21: 6 Hours of Santos (35th-Overall, ?? SingleSpeed)