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From Comfort, Without (much) Love

April 22, 2009

My bicycle breakage streak continues at Comfort. It seems like just a few months ago I was writing about the latest toll this quintessential Texas Hill Country course had taken on my bike. Sunday, it struck again. Comfort ~10, me ~1.

10-1, not a great track record.

Yet, I always come back for more. It was a very good chance to podium for the overall standings. I blew it before the bike did though. This year’s race was an omnium format. A short track race followed by a time trial on Saturday, and the XC race on Sunday.

The short track race brought very promising results with a 3rd place finish-my first ever top 3 in the Pro/Cat 1 category. Granted, the field was a bit shallow at 10 racers, but I came ahead of some strong riders that I’ve never beat before. That had me pumped up about the time trial, but some time dis-synchronization on my part got me to the start line about 2 minutes too late. I wanted the omnium points though, so I still rode it and settled for last place.

After a raw steak and salad dinner, a good night’s sleep, and a nice 5 egg, trail mix, and fruit Caveman breakfast, I was in good spirits for the XC race. Having feared sustaining a flat from races past, I threw on the biggest 29er tires I could find for this race, the Panaracer Rampage 2.35. Now this is one beefy tire. After giving it a thrashing on the greenbelt, I felt 99% sure it was not going to flat on this course. With such beefiness comes a sacrifice of speed though. The tires were noticeably slower on the smooth flats, and around parts of the course that required fast acceleration. However, they soaked up the rough stuff with ease and I had near fear of blasting the descents as hard as my body could handle. They also hooked up very well on tight turns and steep climbing. I felt like the weight penalty was a fair price to pay for the benefit.

Sunday’s Pro/Cat 1 field would swell to almost 20, with fresh non-omnium legs showing up just for the XC. The legs were definintely feeling yesterday’s effort and the sluggishness of the tires on the sprint as I had to settle for next to last place into the singletrack. No worries though, I knew this course would take its toll on the riders and that I’m a “second half racer”.

True to my instinct, I started slowly picking off my rabbits and passing trailkill. I could feel the legs and lungs opening up and my effort gradually increasing. I was on fire, man. I was making good progress gaining ground on 5th/6th place. Then I felt this weird hitch in my chain, and I knew it’s useful time on this earth was near an end. Maybe 200 yards later, after going up a big tree root, the chain finally succumbed to my insatiable rage. All I could do was watch as all the riders I had worked so hard to overcome pass me right by as I play with my chain tool to try and get my propulsion mechanism back together.

Well, I was determined to at least have a decent finish time compared to my age group racers so I pushed on at race pace, until my chain broke again a few miles down the trail. At this point, racing is over and I just want to finish, so I fix it again and get going. Then the chain breaks a third time going up an incline. I’m out of fluids and food by now and contemplating taking the jeep road that my chain conveniently broke at back to the finish. All I can think about is a juicy hamburger and free ice cream bars.

This very Sunday, however, I was destined to finish, even if it was 20 min behind the next competitor. Besides, I wanted my omnium points, and I got them. Through all the weekend’s mishaps, I still managed an 8th place Omnium finish. Could’ve been better, but it also could’ve been worse. The good news is that I did not get any flats, and I didn’t feel as beat up from that course as I normally do, even while riding a hardtail. This tells me that my full body workouts including P90X, yoga, running, and swimming, are really helping out.  I’m really excited about the next few races.

Some day, Comfort, I will get the best of you. Some day.

Photo by Karmabiker

Photo by Karmabiker

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