Bike racing can be a fickle lover. After having raced road, mountain and cyclocross over the past thirteen years it never ceases to amaze me just how not in control you are over the outcome. Even the best layed plans are subject to be thrown in complete upheaval when you least suspect it. Given the last race the D&Q Summer Sizzler which I trained, planned and was completely prepared for a certain little something called the "Body" decided to, in the course of the first of three laps, shut down. Completely, utterly and without warning I went from full gas to absolutely nothing in the tank. No tank half-full or getting dangerously close to the bottom warning signs just full power to jets shutting off. Maybe it had something to do with the stiffling heat and the heat index nearing 100 degrees or maybe it was some higher power either way it was not a way to go out. I still feel like these things are my fault. A mechanical on a bike no rider has control over, but with all the liquids consumed and proper foods eaten and sleep had I still feel I should, after all these years, have some control over the gas tank. Well with D&Q race lasting me about a half hour I knew I had to put up some results in the next several races while at the same time using them as super high quality training for the upcoming Windham World Cup. The next race in line was the Fairhill Classic which you can read about in Jeff's blog. His thoughts pretty much sum up mine as well. The course was fun, fast and again super hot. After a pretty rough start I started feeling better around mile twelve and played catch up over the next thirteen miles catching and passing about six riders that were in front of me finishing third by a mere five seconds. Objective number one down.
Objective number two: try and make up some series points in which I lost due to some early season mechanicals and aforementioned "Shut down." What better way to chase these points then by racing at night. The Midnight at Marsh Creek was held on, and I will say this with conviction, the hottest day of the year. The temperature was around 100 degrees without the heat index. I don't know where the temperature was with the heat index and I was way to hot to even move anymore than I had to to find out. I got to the venue around five o'clock and figured a pre-ride followed by three hours of drinking water was all I needed to get a feel of the course and cool down enough for the nine thirty start. Team mate Aaron Snyder and his girlfriend Jen were there to sit and sweat with me before the start. Misery loves company. After two hours of good conversation we suited up (again for me) and, ready for this, started to warm up. Ha. They staged us in a field for the start which was fun trying to get to as none of the riders wanted to turn their lights on before the start. Once there though all was good. I lead the field out up a false flat into the single track. On one of the road sections I fell into second position. Mission semi accomplished. My legs were thoroughly warmed up and I was drinking plenty of fluids. Then the unexpected happened. As we were coming around one of the corners I heard what was the most painful scream I have experienced. Ever. Laying there, in one of the two lines you could take, was a rider from the Single Speed class. I stopped to see if he was ok and by the sounds echoing in the woods I could tell he wasn't. After a little while we agreed that the best way to get him back to the start/finish was to ride the course in reverse. And so the journey began. We were making our way back trying not to blind the other riders with our lights when on the other side of the fields we could see lightning. There wasn't a call for storms nor did they come, but not really what we wanted to see with all that was going on. About fourty five minutes later we arrived at the start/finish. The rider, Brett Wyckoff, made his way to the ambulance and I to the timing trailer to pull both of our numbers. Not finishing a race is not a good feeling, but helping someone who needs it and knowing he is now doing well makes up for it. As it turns out Brett had broken his hip in two places. Now put that in with the traditional cuts and scarring and you have a super bad ass story to tell. (Not to mention the pictures which I've seen. Gnarly)
Aaron did take the win by about a second in a sprint. Overall not a bad night. I would definately recommend doing the Midnight at Marsh Creek to anyone who likes to ride at night. I know I will be there next year and this time hopefully with out incident.