Tale of two races

Photo credits go to Jesse Carnes and Pat Scharf. Click on the images to go to the source page which may or may not be visible depending upon the permissions.

I just sprayed Zicam into my mouth to try and thwart an oncoming cold. With a Frog Hollow departure date set for next Thursday this cold thing can not happen. Isn’t that how it always goes? Now I must gather and purchase 25 servings of Carbo Rocket for said race. Last night I finished unpacking from my trip to Missoula. It was a trip that I have been taking every other week for the past 9 weeks in a row. Last weekend our plan was simple. To do a cross race and then hike the high point in the Bitterroots.

First on the docket was the cross race. Also thanks to Red Barn for getting my cross bike rejuvenated mid season. I decided to race the old steed instead of my usual mountain bike. Just like normal I was running on no sleep and I was skeptical that my performance would be up to par. My training leading up to this race had a lot to be desired. But no matter because this was my last full of training weekend in preparation for the Frog Hollow .

My training plan had me doing a 3 hour hard effort (race was suggested) on Saturday and then Sunday I needed to do a 6 hour low key ride.  The combination of a cyclocross race Saturday followed by a nice hike on Sunday would fit the plan perfectly. And to ensure three hours of training Saturday I would do two races. Enter the 2011 Rolling Thunder.

Race number 1 was the masters race. I lined up per usual in the back. When I sized up my competition I felt a sense of dread.  Chance Cook who has won numerous state championships was right up front and so was a guy named Mark Knokey. Mark won the Rolling Thunder last year after I crashed in a final lap corner while leading the race. This year the Vertical Earth rider out of Idaho looked extra strong and focused. I had my work cut out for me.

On the first lap I was hanging out mid pack trying my best to not let the lead group gap the riders I was desperately trying to keep up with. The pace seemed fast and I figured that I would soon fade and get into a “just do my best” mode.

Soon a lead group of four, maybe 5, broke free on the second lap and I spent the entire lap just trying to catch them.  Soon I bridged up and settled in following them and resting up a bit. The pace seemed pretty high so at that point I was just trying to not get dropped.

I don’t know what lap it was but there is a straight section just before the start/finish line that I like to attack on. The group seemed to be going slower then normal so I decided to take the lead. This would ensure maximum announcer mention. I love it when they get excited. As I rode past everyone I decided to impress them with my speed and went extra hard. As I turned the corner I glanced back and I had a gap. I sprinted over the start finish line like it was the final sprint.

“Bill Martin is making his move”, the announcer shouted over the loud system.

“Keep it in Montana”, I heard John Curry yell as I went by his team area.

After putting forth a pretty fast lap, showing off to my friends and Mo, I slowed a bit so as to not blow up later on. Besides, I had a harder race to do later that night.  Mark surged hard and caught up to me. I figured why not work with him to keep Chance from catching on. I let him go by and caught his wheel.

“Watch out, Bill is a horse”, his teammate yelled from their pit area.

I took offense to that and started to make horse sounds. Then the track curved back around towards his excited teammate. “No your wrong … I am a mule”, I shouted as I went past him.

I took the lead on the next lap and started riding a little harder and soon Mark drifted back to Chance. Then the first mishap of the weekend happened. My cross bike’s shifters were already starting to strip out so I had like 6 out of 9 gears, certainly enough to race cross. But just as I motored away I stripped the rest of the gears out leaving me with one gear in the back and the two up front. So by using those two gears I continued to try and hold everyone off for the remainder of the race.

I went strong to the end and did a dance of victory at the finish line. It was a good race but I think I went way to hard. I should of immediately went looking for a back up bike or try and get my bike fixed. My sponsor Peter from Wild Joes even said I could use his bike (quite tempting), but I thought I could use the same two gear trick for the late night race.

Between races I Action Wipe(ed) up and enjoyed watching Mo’s cross race. I managed to run around the course catching her sometimes in 3 places per lap. Way more fun then recovering and keeping warm for the next race. But this would haunt me later.

Race number 2 was the late night show or the Cat 1,2 race. I upgraded the week before so I could be in the “show”. Right from the get go I knew I was in trouble but had faith that my “extra gear” would kick in and I would make my way up through the field.

By the end of the first lap it was apparent I had gone to hard before in the first race and had not recovered yet. As hard as I tried it seemed as though I was not catching the group. Still though I had faith that I would eventually start picking riders off.

I could still see the large pack which seemed to still be in one group just yards ahead of me when I started hearing a sound from my front wheel. I had broken a spoke and I slowed down to access the situation. It would only be moments before the remaining spokes would loosen and my front wheel would explode. I gingerly rode on.

After a while I deemed it necessary to continue the effort and stay as strong as I could for the friends and loved ones watching. As long as that front wheel didn’t collapse I would be fine I guessed. And I didn’t take any risks in corners and on the cork screw downhill.

What really took some wind out of my sails was on a re-mount after the run up. I slipped off my pedal thinking I was clicked in and landed on the cross bar. OUCH! To make matters worse I gouged my right ankle pretty bad. I limped for a moment and re-mounted, gingerly, even more then before, rode off embarrassed that this all happened in front of a large crowd.

After a while I deemed it necessary to “partake” in the cross festivities at the run-up. I started downing outstretched beers to the delight of the crowd. I can say beer didn’t slow me down but it did not help either. So I can take that off my potential “energy drink” list.  Once I grabbed some outstretched money.  So in the midst of the worst train wreck of a race to date I seemed to be having fun. Just at the end to make all things seem worse I got lapped effectively ending my race. I did a extra lap for good measure and slipped into the shadows to hide my embarrassed face. Thankfully Mo was there to take the brunt of my frustration and coax me into thinking I did well.

And that is the tail of two races, first and last. It was all good and I was able  to win  one for Team Muleterro, which I may add is hosting the 2011 MuleCross this weekend. It should be a fun course and a good time so come on out.

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