Friday, June 15, 2012

6/2-3 - Doubleheader Race Weekend Part 2 - Sierra Cup Series #4 - Peavine Challenge

Well the epic racing weekend was off to a good start with a win at SoNoMas on Saturday (check out part 1 here if you missed it) and I was feeling fairly decent Saturday night.  But after the drive up to Reno the next morning, my lower back was pretty darn tight.  All the driving probably didn't help with that.  The legs definitely weren't "fresh" but didn't seem to be too flat.  I did notice it was much harder to get my heart rate up when I was trying to warm up, which was to be expected.  I would be running the same set-up as the day before: Highball with Nano TCS tires.  The sealant did a good job on the front tire so thankfully I didn't need to change it out.  With the trip up to altitude however, my rear brake was a little off causing the bike to sing to me like a bad American Idol audition... and not a funny one either!  After some fiddling I was able to get the caliper to a spot where it wasn't really causing resistance but would let out an occasional squeal.  Good enough.

The Peavine course consists of one big mountain loop starting at about 5200ft elevation going up to a little over 6000ft in about 6 miles.  After my warm up I didn't feel like I had a ton of "pop" and wasn't sure if I could really hammer the climb on both laps.  I figured I'd be sitting in for at least lap 1.  

When the whistle blew I was off and in the lead right away.  Am I finally getting good at starts??? I doubt it, I just love how well the Highball sprints so it's fun.  I started up the first climb and wanted to set a strong pace to feel out my competition and keep anyone who didn't belong up front from getting in the way.  Pretty soon it was just three of us off the front.  I led up over the first crest and bam... a face full of headwind!  Those two guys found their "happy place" tucked right in my massive slipstream (sure... sit in behind the tall guy!) so I backed off the pace just a bit until the crest.  But I felt stupid for not letting someone else lead when I should probably be conserving.  Especially when #2 passed me after the short drop to the fire road climb and said "Good job" like he wasn't even working hard.  All I knew was that right then he was pulling away and my legs were burning!  Then the other guy passed me but I was able to stay on his wheel for a bit but it still hurt.  So I backed off and decided to just keep them in sight for now.  But their pace was soon dialed back when the climbing got steep and my diesel motor was still chuggin' along at a low rate, barely getting to 160bpm.  I stayed on the wheel of 2nd place and we were about 20-30 seconds back from the leader, but near the top of the climb I passed for 2nd figuring I would descend faster.  I dropped into the "bobsled" section which is a fun half-pipe shaped canyon the course rips down in a slalom.  But I didn't have the energy to charge it and soon I was being asked to pull over, which I did.  Then I wanted to see if he'd hit the same stupid sharp rock I've hit the last two years to give me flats... he missed it.  But he's a local so he probably knew it was there too.  I missed it as well and continued down the hill at a smooth pace, just conserving energy and not getting worried about my position.  I could still see them both in the open sections and could make up time on the few short climbs that interrupt the super fast and flowy descent.  The legs felt like they were coming back... nice!

At the bottom I was only about 20 seconds back, and we started climbing again.  A friend watching yelled "Alright Clint they're right there... time to RACE!"  Exactly... and it was on!  But there was still about 35 minutes of climbing to go, so I was planning on just catching up at a smooth and steady closing rate and making the pass closer to the top.  We went over that first crest again but I didn't get close enough to get into their draft.  Oh well, still a lot of course left.  Up the fire road we went and I caught 2nd place pretty quickly as he was fading back.  I set my sights on the leader, about 10 seconds ahead who was making his way up the first of the steeper sections, which is about 1/3 of the way up the total climb.  I was closing fast and had a decision to make... do I pass now or sit and wait to pass closer to the top like I had planned?  I wasn't sure what the best move was, but what I did know was that I was feeling good right then and he looked like he was suffering.  So feeling like I had a good chance to make the pass stick, I poured it on, passed in the weeds and did my best to pull a good gap and break his spirits so he wouldn't try to hang on.  I figured if he caught back up, I'd still have a chance to pull a gap again at the top.  But he never caught back up and my gap was growing... nice!  Now I just needed to protect my equipment, be smooth and bring it home.  But near the top, still climbing, I shift down and CRUNCH!  A nasty sound comes from my gears so I stop pedaling immediately.  For whatever reason, the chain had gotten thrown over the rear cassette and wedged between the spokes!  Ahhh!!!  Stay calm... don't get mad.  I dismount, inspect... then yank!  It comes out with no damage, thankfully I had stopped pedaling quickly and it was only half way wrapped around.  Quickly I'm back to charging up the last bit of the climb with 2nd place in sight but still quite a ways back.  

Down the bobsled I go... remember that rock... missed it!  Nice.  Ok... deep breath... smooth is fast.  I was most definitely faster the 2nd time down but I was really having to be "twinkle toes" over the rocks because while I put more air pressure in the tires after learning from my mistake at SoNoMas, it still wasn't enough.  I had forgotten how fast I end up going here over the sharp rocks.  That made this time down more nerve racking than fun.  I heard a couple rim strikes but thankfully no loss of air.  And since I was rocking the pedals so much dancing around the rocks, my chain came off about three times.  Thankfully I've learned how to pull it back on by working the front derailleur so I didn't have to stop.  But it requires me to look down at it and when I do, of course that's when I rim strike a rock.  I was so nervous about flatting and I was really working to stay light on the bike.  I was literally yelling "STOP!!! NO!!" at every rim strike.  Yes... I was yelling at rocks, rather than slowing down.  Thankfully I made it through the worst of the rocks without incident but I was so mad at myself for running too low of pressure the second day in row... stupid.  

I turned down the last canyon traverse and fighting the blast of headwind and the rapidly increasing temparatures, I finished strong and came in for the win with a time of 1 hour 59 minutes for the 25 mile course with 4500ft of climbing.

Stoked to have finished under 2 hours which was a little goal I had in the back of my head, and even more stoked to have pulled off a second win on the weekend!

And the podium is always made sweeter with a bottle of wine... NICE!!!


  1. Awesome comeback, thanks for sharing !
    I'm just getting into racing and your blog definitely gives me a good head start as to what to expect.

    Could I ask you a couple of questions about the highball ? I just purchased the frame and gathering components.
    I don't see an email contact, but if you have a chance to send me a message, i would appreciate it.

    Thank You,

    Robert (surfdog 93 at hot mail dot com)