Friday, September 25, 2009

A quarter buck of fun

I used to think the best thing in the world for a quarter of a buck was anything housed in those crappy plastic bubbles within the red metal and glass machines that you'd see at the entrance to every grocery and drug store growing up. Of course, now that I think about it, I'm not even sure when the last time I saw one of those was. Then again, even if you could find one, I'm sure the prizes are crappier than I remember and the cost has doubled or tripled as well. Ahh, the memories of childhood. For the mere price of a shiny quarter now, I enjoy something a bit more fulfilling. Quarter Rage has to be one of my favorite times on a bike or just in general. Like minded buddies doing some friendly smack talk, throwing down whatever they've got in their legs, and having a metric shitload of fun at the same time; what more could you ask for?! All for the low low price of 2 bits.

Last week was the first installment for the year. 5:30 being the start time, I showed up a shade before 5 and took and easy run through to get the legs warmed up. The trail was dry, fast, and loose. The singletrack was mostly clear with just a smattering of leaves and walnuts covering spots of the trail as autumn has started to press it's will upon the woods. Looking to better my time from last year of a 23:26, I knew wouldn't be too difficult. I had my sites set on something in the 20:xx range as a pretty decent goal. I started 2nd in line behind Jordan who was breaking in his new Raleigh 29'er from the shop in the best way possible.

I hosed the first section of trail dropping down from the levee as I tried keeping the bike under me rather than diving off into the chain link surrounding the pump station. The first few corners into the singletrack weren't treating me much better as I would hammer the pedals and slam on the brakes rather than flow through the corner. My heart was all ready jumping up in my throat and I knew I'd better find my form quickly. Sure enough, I backed off a tick and the form caught right back up as I hammered through the trail as quickly as possible. I caught Jordan just past the tractor tire and he let me fly past. With open trail in front of me, I just pushed on the pedals for all I was worth. Finally on the paved trail, I tried tucking in as tight as possible while cranking up the watts to the finish. My lungs and legs were burning as I crossed the line barely able to see straight.

My reward? Not only did I better my previous time, but I took down the course record and held on by 2 seconds to take 1st place overall for the night. I've got to say, even with all I've been lucky enough to accomplish on the bike this year, winning this little bragging rights race was one of the highlights for sure. I racked up a finish time of 19:22 according to Squirrel which knocked off the previous time by a scant 3 seconds.
Winning time:
The take:
She was briefly mine:
The second week commenced the online smack talking. Squirrel made up a pretty funny little ditty to encourage a few of the big boys to show up and strut their stuff. Basso answered the call and I pretty much knew things were going to be stepped up. Squirrel pre-rode the course and wasn't quite sure that the record would fall again tonight due to some trail moisture, leaf build-up, and extra walnut bombs throughout. I wasn't quite so optimistic, but I was still going to give it a run. I figured my plan from last week carried me pretty well through so I went for a repeat doing a warm up lap just prior to taking the line. I slowly worked up my speed and was feeling pretty confident as I headed into the last section of Denman's. I hit a hard left turn a little hot with a shade too much front brake and before I could even squeak a 4 letter word out, I was on the ground. The very combination Squirrel had been talking about had bit me square in the arse. Nothing hurt but my pride, I mounted back up, stuck a mental note in the bank and headed back for the start.
Lined up:
As Squirrel said go, I managed to repeat, if not worsen my screwups in the first section. Again, I nearly ran off the trail right at the start and didn't make anything better as I started into the first section of singletrack coming in too hot to the corners, nearly stopping, and then trying to hammer again. I knew tonight would be a push as I didn't feel quite as good as I had last week, but I intended to lay out whatever I had on the trail. I did get the flow going again, but it seemed more labored this week as my ragged breathing pounded in my ears and my heart surged to keep up with the effort I was begging from it. I took the short line through Little Italy this week which should have shaved a good 3-5 seconds from my time. I don't think I was quite as clean through a number of the turns this week, but my straightaway speed didn't seem to be suffering much. In all, I was still riding clean as I came up on Elaine as the first rider to get past. Just a brief second or two and I was by her. I rode the tractor tire again this week trying to get a better line for the follow up log. I caught up and passed a couple more riders along the way as well.
I was just getting a good eyeball on Jacob who was the minute man I was chasing as I entered the firepit section of Denman's. I had a couple bobbles up to this point, but was still keeping it sunny side up. I finally ran out of luck as I came around the big tree with the muddy spot on the inside of the right hand sweeper. I carried good speed into the turn and had a good weight balance, but the traction wasn't there. Both tires scrubbed out sideways trying to find any bit of dry ground available and I swung the bike nearly 180 degrees past the corner putting my inside knee down to the ground as I slid along for the ride. Still clipped in with my left foot, I righted my course pretty quickly and headed back down the trail.
A mere flesh wound:

I ran pretty cleanly through the rest of the trail and hit the pavement return section once again. I didn't have quite the legs under me as I did last week and couldn't spit out the speed I wanted to. Overall though I finished in 19:26 only 4 seconds off my time last week. I think I've got an 18:xx tucked away somewhere with the right trail conditions and a bit better run through on my end. However, Pete proved for all that the big dogs have the skill to show us how it's done running an 18:21!

Hurting at the finish:

Pete enjoying the spoils of victory:

Pics stolen from Courtney. See you out there next week!


Courtney said...

I hope to have my mountain bike back next week so I can try this crazy race out. I'll be happy with mid 20's

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea