Dusk till dawn... my local race and one I want to win. This year I lined up hoping I could pull it off. My form has been reasonable over the last few weeks despite the lack of any structured training so I lined up feeling confident. Rain was expected but this was no problem, I had previously finished 2nd before in wet conditions. So when it started drizzling as we lined upon the start line I was feeling confident that it would be fine...
Off the start I settled into a nice comfortable position, following the wheels of Steve Webb and George Budd, the riders to watch in the solo category. The plan was to ride hard for the first lap to get a good position and then settle into a good rhythm. The conditions were fast for the first lap although towards the end the rain began to get heavier. My new exposure 6 pack made life easy going in the single track... the thing is so bright (I was half hoping the light beam would dry out the trails). Through the pits at the end of the first lap my bottle change was a little slow and I lost the wheel of the leaders. Not wanting to push into the red to early on in the race I let the gap go, figuring that their pace was unsustainable for more than a few hours.
By now the rain was torrential. The trails were disintegrating before my eyes and becoming incredibly slippery. The brake were being worn away with every little touch so I decided to not use them unless really necessary. I adopted the 1 foot out and hope for the best method of cornering!
As the race continued the rain got harder being driven by a strong cold wind. I was feeling strong, both mentally and physically and figured the best tactics were just to survive. By 3 hours the course was almost empty as so many riders had abandoned. After around 5hours I got word that George Budd had retired, leaving me in 2nd position around 20minutes behind. I was trying to conserve my bike but knew sooner or later I would need to change to my spare bike. Unfortunately my spare was a single speed and I was reluctant to swap and loose more time. I pushed on knowing my bike was at the limits and required new pads and a good clean. I left it too late though. My 6th lap was hell. The course was so wet and muddy that some sections were quicker to run. The lap was 3 times longer than my opening lap and I knew I had to swap bikes. I also knew that I’d end up running most of the lap if I used my single speed. As I entered the pit I decided that I needed to stay on my Santacruz so asked my helpers to quickly change my pads and lube the chain while I changed kit.
That’s when the problems started. The pistons on my brake had seized solid making them unusable. After 15minutes of trying to sort the bike I was frozen to the core. I began a lap on my single speed but could not get warm, the lashing rain no helping matters! So I decided to turn around and call it a day.
All in all a bit of a disappointing weekend. I was good enough for the podium, but not prepared enough for the conditions. So with that my season fizzled out. Time to hibernate for a few months before refocusing on next year... hopefully next year I can pull off the big win that I feel capable of (preferably with a nice new jersey for winning!)!