Last Saturday I had my first bike race of the year at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park. It was the first in a 4-race series and it is aimed at fat bikers, but open to everyone with a bike. You should sign up for the next one on January 28th!
Since I didn’t have a fat bike, I was entered in the skinny tire category, also known as the “Half-a-Chub” division, which is open to “regular” mountain bikes.
I’ve been riding a lot, but haven’t specifically been training for an event like this. Most of my events this season will be 25 – 60 miles in length. So, since this was only 8 miles in length, it was much more of a sprint than I am used to. I was looking at it as a good lactate threshold workout for the off-season. But, more importantly, it was a great chance to hang out with my friends in the winter.
This is the second year for this race series, which is put on by Combo, the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization. Due to trail conditions, the course was held exclusively on the short track course – which is a mowed trail through an open field. This event is held regardless of the weather and the course changes every time. For future races, if trail conditions allow, they would like to add singletrack.
I have to admit, I was envious of all the fat bikes. They add a fun twist to your winter riding. You feel like a joyous little kid and you want to try to ride over everything and pop wheelies and stuff. But, before I buy a fat bike, I’m going to buy some living room furniture. I’m such an adult.
There were 43 racers that left in 3 waves. First the women took off, then the fat bikes and finally the mountain bikes.
I got off to a so-so start. There were 14 cyclists in our division and I was in 6th or 7th place when we reached the short track loop. There were going to be 5 laps that were 1.6 miles each. I spent the first lap just holding my position and looking unsuccessfully for opportunities to pass.
On the second lap, as some of the competition started to slow down after a hot first lap, I was able to start picking riders off and moved my way up to second place. Jeff Rupnow was in first and I was fairly certain that I wasn’t going to catch him unless he had some sort of mishap. Still, I was happy that I kept him in my sites as long as I did.
On lap 3, I was riding strong and noticed one rider left behind me, Ryan Stalter, who had managed to keep up the tough pace that was being set. I was mentally formulating my plan to hold him off, when a little mini-disaster happened. I rode through a mud patch and a giant piece of dirt shot up into my eye. It was covering the front of my contact and I could only see out of one eye. I tried to blink it out, but it wasn’t working. My speed slowed quite a bit as I tried to figure out what to do. I was uncomfortable and disoriented and I had to hop off my bike to carry it over two CX-style barriers. Just then Ryan bunny-hopped both barriers right next to me as if to put an exclamation point on his pass. Wow! That was sweet!
For the record, I purposely brought glasses to the race to prevent this exact scenario, but I just forgot to put them on before the event.
For the next half lap I struggled with my eye. I finally got it cleaned out, but Stalter had built up a pretty good lead. I could see him just ahead of me on the switchbacks, but I was unable to reel him in. He had a really strong race.
I finished 3rd out of 14 in the mountain bike division behind Jeff Rupnow and Ryan Stalter. Congrats guys! I look forward to racing you again this winter. …hopefully in the snow!
More Photos (Photos were taken by Matt Waldron, Dean Kilton and James Knott):