Monday, 9 July 2012

Fountainhead TT - Something A Bit Different

Two great tastes that taste great together - mountain bikes and time trials. Actually I haven't ever proven to be a very good time trial rider. Pretty bad, really. Not exactly John Tomac on the mountain bike either, although I continue to work on that. When they do an event like the Fountainhead Time Trial you have to support it. The people who've been driving the trail redevelopment have done a great job. This was a good idea for an event to celebrate the success of that hard work. It was also a reason to get up early on a Saturday, have a light snack, and then involuntarily hurl that snack back out into the world.

First thing I find out is that I am Kyle's minute man. This almost certainly means that sometime between the start loop and the picnic tables, I will be passed, and then be struggling to stay with him. Second thing we find out is that a guy from the 8am wave posted a 55' time (he finished as we staged). Yikes. My self-recorded best ever time for the race loop was 1:02:53. It was a day when we did two loops, of which the second lap was the quicker. Trail conditions that day were perfect - supertack dirt the whole way through, you almost couldn't screw up. The trail surface lately, thanks to ludicrous heat and not very much rain, has been equivalent to pea gravel over concrete. I don't like this surface condition all that much. Also, the variable of racing with Kyle chasing me, versus riding with him as happened on the previous fast lap, would change things. I still thought there was a faster time out there for me, with a sub 1 hour time probably representing a realistically attainable very good time.

Long story short, I didn't break an hour. Somewhat amazingly, I kept Kyle behind me through to the picnic benches. My own 1' man, I never saw. Kyle had definitely gained time - at one point I'd have guessed he was 25" behind - but that motivated me to press it on the few sections where I've generally had the upper hand in our battles. Almost halfway through, I looked for him at a double back where I should have been able to get a very good gauge on our time gap, and he wasn't there. I knew right away he'd flatted. He flats CHRONICALLY at FH. So with my minute man apparently smoking everyone (or at least me and Kyle), and no Kyle chasing me, I was left to do what I'm worst at - ride senselessly hard for no readily apparent reason. It went okay.

At some point right around the Shock-A-Billy split, I realized that the time on the clock made cutting under an hour a bit of a stretch, which caused me to speed up, which caused me to ride faster than my skills could support, which caused a brief cage match of "right leg and arm versus trail." Does trail ever lose these matches? No, no it does not. Not a big time loss, but not helpful. The oil pressure was starting to leak a bit on the exit trail but I gave it what I could and rolled through the finish at what I thought was 1:01:16 but what turned out to be 1:01:35. Felt appropriately awful when it was over, completely overheated, sweating so much that my hands and feet pruned (that was really gross, actually), and barely able to catch my breath.

I walked back into the woods to cheer whoever came later and hopefully see the wife kicking ass (yet still hopeful that she wouldn't chick me - not an entirely unrealistic outcome). With Kyle's flat and the time gaps I was seeing it looked pretty good that I would be 4th at worst among 9am starters (since I'd started 4th). Then came the wife, clearly on a good time, ahead of a stack of the 13 guys who'd started (at 1' intervals) between us.

Turns out my minute man had DNF'd somewhere, and I had done well among 9am starters - 3rd. The problem was that 12 of the 8am starters were faster. Must have been the extra heat, right? RIGHT? A few seconds saved here and there would have netted a much better result, but that's the thing about TTs, no?

I'd have to guess that there were a dozen people there who'd never done any sort of race before in their lives, but did this because it sounded fun as shit and they were psyched to celebrate the work done to the trail. That was probably the best thing about the event - happy people psyched about having fun on bikes in the woods.

Fair Hill Sunday, which may well be the last mtb race of the year, and then it's all in prepping for GMSR and cx season.


Ike said...

Glad to hear the lady is on the mend and getting the fast back.

Mike. said...

Nov 10th: FountainHead TT (day before Schooley Mill CX)

Doesn't list the exact course, but from the distance stated I'm guessing the new sections only (Green/Blue)