April 10, 2010

First Race of the Season - Hopbrook Dam - "I love bike racing"

I did the race for the first time last year and had a huge amount of fun, so I was thoroughly looking forward to today. So much nostalgia! The race this year did not disappoint. It was, in fact more fun than last year, since it was not 40 degrees and pouring rain.
The sky was blue and it was a perfect 60ish degrees.
Thanks to my co-workers at City Cycle I had a fork attached to my bike and a crank, too. It is just under 24lbs (XL) with a pretty nice build...when clean.Thanks to Greg at Back Bay Bicycles, I had a ride to the race.

I was pretty psyched to see four other juniors toeing the 12-18 Cat.1 line, since last year I was lucky to race against one other junior. So, the race started, and I got the holeshot fairly easily. After the first single track section I had a decent gap already. I rode at my own pace for the entire race and was fairly relaxed, until I realized that Ryan Packard was not too far back. He got pretty close several times, but I'd stay in front the entire race. On lap two of four, I took a rocky downhill a bit fast and took a bad line. Down I went - down a hill, over rocks. I had to climb back up. Amazingly, I hardly scratched myself and my bike was in pretty good shape. I was worried though, because I almost tore my rear derailleur cable, but all was well, and I continued on.
It seemed like the entire race I was passing people, and I was riding everything. The 29er definitely was working well for me today. I rode a pretty steep climb that many pro's didn't even attempt during the race. Everything just clicked. I rode well and didn't have any catastrophic bike failures. I had only about 2 hours on the bike before I raced it, but I really got used to it quickly. I could not believe how well it cornered - it was unreal! I was running Maxxis Aspens set up tubeless with Stans, and they hooked up great, despite being labeled as a dry tires. So, in the end I finished in a respectable 2 hours 30 seconds. Taking home the "w" feels good, especially when you have to work for it. Seamus Powell, only 19, killed it in the pro race, taking the win. The course was in awesome shape, the trails themselves weren't too muddy, but there were some big puddles on the fireroads.

It was great to see all the familiar faces at the race. I really love bike racing, it is just so much fun.

This road bike was pretty intense, the owner said he gets it down to 12lbs for the races!
The Scale 29er is pretty cool. I was very hesitant about 29ers, and after test riding several, I still couldn't make up my mind. After racing one, though, the advantages are obvious and the disadvantages are almost nonexistent. I was most worried about climbing, but I did not feel like the big wheels held me back at all (especially since they are 1650ish gram Stans 355s / Industry Nine Ultralights). The bike shined on flat meandering rock sections, it maintained momentum really well and just kept rolling. Cornering again, was weird, in a good way. I could tell I was getting great traction, but I was afraid of putting too much trust in the bike and over cooking it in a high speed corner. It was great though, and I think more people will continue to try big wheels.
Can't wait for next year! Winding Trails next weekend.

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