Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Race report: Single Speed Arizona 2007

The first race of the year… Is it a sign of what’s to come?
The first race of the season was this weekend in Tucson Arizona. It proved to be the most technically challenging trail that I have ever ridden. It started out with a nine mile fire road climb then on to a loop section about the same distance that included some of the hardest conditions that I have ridden in, rolling over large rocks into sand and back again. After finishing the loop you arrived back at the top of the long climb and the rest of the course included some fast flowing single track rolling through the hills and along the ridges and ended descending down the steepest rockiest trail that I have ever ridden/walked. I have never thrown myself off so many 2 foot drops in my life.

I was able to pre ride the first loop of the course on Thursday, and I new that the second half of the course would be extremely challenging and it would be where I would loose the most time. My plan was to hit the climb hard right of the line and create a gap big enough that I could keep the lead through the difficult section at the end of the course. In the first 200 yards I was in the lead and started to pull away from the group, then all the sudden a guy with tree trunks for leg blows past me. I was almost red lined so I let him go, but I knew I had to keep him close. Luckily for me, he popped and in just a couple minutes and I was back in the lead. The first twenty minute of climbing I had only established a 30 second lead, fortunately for me the climb leveled out to about 5% and I put the hammer down and put two more minutes on them by the top of the climb!

When I hit the top the promoter wanted me to stop so he could give me the KOM (King Of the Mountain) prize, he didn’t have it ready and I didn’t wait. I hit the first single track and really got in a fast groove and tried to keep my lead. I thought I would have an easier time with this section after pre riding, no such luck, I was pretty tired and had rough start when on the technical sections it seemed like every time I dropped of a rock into the sand I fell of the bike. I must have hit the ground a dozen times in a couple miles. I returned back to the trail after loosing taking the wrong line through a wash. I lost a few seconds and I new I could not afford to do that again, I needed to be on the ball and ride smooth and pick the good lines. With the rocks and sand behind me, I had a couple short tough climbs and I would be back at the top of the first climb. As I crested the “grinder” I had a good view behind me and there was nobody in sight. My plan was working!!!

I came around the last corner to the top of the climb and saw Dejay, the promoter, standing in the middle of the road pointing me in the right direction. When I got closer I realized he had something for me. The KOM prize, with a disclaimer… I must carry it all the way to the finish or I would be disqualified. “Sweet 50 bucks. Is it all quarters?” I said. Nope, it’s all nickels and dimes” Dejay says with a laugh as he stuffs the five and a half pound of change into my jersey pocket. I’m glad I didn’t wait for it the first time around.
On to new territory, the Arizona trail, brought some challenging single track climbs with stair steps and loose rock. I was feeling great I powered through everything and kept a good rhythm and I was starting to get confidant. What a false sense of security I had, after three or four miles I started to doubt whether I was going the right direction. I started riding slower, so if I were going the wrong direction I wouldn’t be too far off track. A few more miles and I had found a familiar spot that I had driven to before the race and I was reenergized, it was time to pick up the pace. Again feeling good I got in a grove and kept the pace fast, I new the turn to the last descent was in about four miles.

This part of the course had only been marked with cairns and at times was a little confusing; I got to a split in the road and had no idea where I needed to go. Thankfully there were two hikers approaching, I asked them if they knew the Milagrosa trail. “ Oh sure, it’s about 6 miles back the way you came from…” Oh crap I thought to myself, I am lost. I talked with them for a couple minutes and decided to turn back to see if I missed a turn, I got a few hundred yards and decided that I had been going the correct direction and turned around again. A few minutes later another hiker informed me that I was in fact going the correct way and I only had one kilometer to the next trial split.

Yes, the last trail junction and it was marked! I turned right and made it 100 yards and had to turn around, I was told to keep left. I went the other direction and made it 50 yards, "this doesn’t look right either". Back the other way again, this time I climbed about a mile, and I knew I was in the wrong place. I turned around one last time, retracing my tracks and took the trail to the left. A couple hundred yards later I crossed a creek and saw a fresh wet tire track coming out of the creek. Someone had passed me on the last descent.

I rode as fast as possible, the trail started getting difficult and I started going over the bars again. I regained my composure and found a groove after a couple minutes I saw the rider a half mile ahead of me. “I can catch him, no problem,” I thought to myself and it happened fast. With in a couple minutes I came around another corner and he was 50 yards away. And I instantly noticed he had gears. Sweet! He’s not even in the race. I passed him and he said that I was in the lead.

All I had to do now was survive the descent, which was no easy task! Drop after drop after drop it never ended, I have walked down stairs that weren’t so steep. I rode some, I walked some. 2000 feet in two miles, that’s a steep trail. I made it to the bottom with no problems and just 2 miles of pavement to the finish, with not a sole in sight except my geared friend, I set a good pace and cruised in for the win!!

Here is a closer look at the winners award and the KOM prize.

It was a fast race, The promoter expected the winners to finish in about four hours; With getting lost my finish time was 3 hours and 27 minutes. 12 minutes ahead of 2nd place, Jake Kirkpatrick. One race one win.
2007 starts off in good fashion!


kika said...

Way to eat shit and brush off the dust. Congrats on your first win of the season.

Bernice said...

You're one damn strong Fuzzy guy! Incredible!