I have been looking forward to Treasure Valley Rally all year. After a surprising win there last year I was hoping for a repeat performance this year. Instead, I got a day of problems; but it didn’t turn out all bad. The turnout seemed a bit lower this year, but we had a respectable size field in the single-speed category. Kevin wasn’t there and it wasn’t the same. How would I pace myself for the first few miles without him? I guess I managed.
We started hard with Pete MacLeod taking off and me in pursuit. I tried to keep him in sight but I just cannot start that fast. He slowly put a pretty good gap on me over the first few miles. On the long climb, Brandon O’Neal and one other rider passed me, putting me in fourth place for the moment.
On the first lap, I followed an elite woman, Karen Potter, through the technical “expert” loop portion of the course. Her bike handling was very impressive through the numerous rock gardens. Maybe I’m sick, but I think this rocky, technical stuff is one of the best parts of this race course. On top of that, it’s followed by a nice steep climb!
Along this climb, I managed to catch the crotch of my bike shorts on the nose of my saddle. As I pulled up on the climb I heard: “Rrrrrrrrip!” That was the seam on my shorts. It wasn’t a major rip, but it was certainly annoying to feel the side of the saddle on my bare leg. Unfortunately, this allowed the shorts to catch on the nose and back of my saddle much more easily. Throughout the race this rip would open up progressively more and more until I was racing in an all-terrain mountain kilt. I know that baggies aren’t “cool” any more but if I ride in lycra I feel like this guy. I’m going to have to revisit this issue later.
As the trail turned downhill, I began to wonder if my tire pressure was too low. Before the race, I added a few more pounds of pressure than I normally run, just to make sure I wouldn’t get a pinch flat. Even with that, I was bottoming out the rim in places but nothing that was making me fear a flat. The problem is that you don’t really know if it is worth the time to stop and add air or not, until it is too late. It was holding up so I trudged on. I moved up to third and, eventually, second as I passed Brandon before the end of the first lap. I was feeling pretty good at this stage of the race. I had managed to stay hydrated, avoiding the cramping I had at Millstone last week.
Early into the second lap, I could hear yelling in the woods where a latter part of the course was relatively close. It sounded like people were hurt, mad or something. Lots of yelling. It turns out that there was a bees’ nest that had somehow gotten stirred up. Apparently, the bees were swarming and it was quite bad over there. Many people had gotten stung. I didn’t hear of anyone having an allergic reaction, so that was good. I heard of a few riders who finished with many stings and some who got lost trying to bush-whack around the swarm. By the time I had gotten around to that part of the course, they had routed a trail around the swarm area. I had enough of bees and wasps last week at Millstone – and that was only one sting.
I still had plenty of energy and was able to keep putting down the power on the climbs, but not enough to bring Mr. MacLeod into view. I was at least holding on to my 2nd place position and starting to pick off some of the straggling Elite or lapping Sports and Beginners. I was feeling good right up to the point where I rolled my front tire on one of the loamy corners. Almost immediately after that, I heard the familiar sound of air leaking. Joy.
Now I knew that I should have stopped to add some air to my tires. I dragged my bike off the edge of the trail to replace the tube. Yes, I’m still running tubes. I started by pulling the tire off the rim. Well, I should say that I attempted to pull the tire off the rim. In race situations, I can usually do this with my bare hands due to the adrenaline surge that makes stuff like that possible. Not this time. This time I had to pull out the tire levers. Stick one lever under the bead… good. Stick the next lever under… okay. Put the third lever under and the first two would release themselves into the leaf clutter on the ground. Repeat. Carl DeVincent passed by me shortly after this fiasco started. I expect Carl to show up any time I slow down. As I wrestled with the tire levers and rim, more experts passed by. I lost count and was starting to build up a rage that can only be equaled by a morning SUV driver 15 minutes late for work while stuck in a traffic jam behind a Prius. Eventually, I got the bead off the rim and replaced the tube. Could I get the bead back on the rim? Of course not! While all this was going on, Sport and Beginner class riders started passing by me. I think some of them stopped and started making cell calls to their friends to come out with their 3-speed comfort bikes just so they could ride by and mock my efforts. Everyone was passing by me. After a lot of frustration, I lubricated the bead of the tire with sweat from my arm which allowed it to slide over the rim. It may be a bit gross, but it worked. I pumped some extra air into my rear tire as well before (finally) heading off.
Now that I had lost many minutes playing mechanic, I tried to regain as much ground as I could. I figured that I was still in third place since only one non-derailleur bike had passed by. Since I was still feeling strong, I started riding like an idiot trying to regain my position. Applying lots of power without using your head on this course is a recipe for disaster. I was making all kinds of technical errors that I shouldn’t have. I didn’t manage to calm down until I went over the bars in a root strewn rocky mud patch. That was the first time I have ever gone OTB since I started riding a 29er.
I continued on, picking off riders and trying to bring Brandon into sight. I figured that I had about four or five miles to accomplish this. This was going well until I bottomed the rim out on a rock somewhere toward the end of the course. Since I had already used up my spare tube, there was only one option: run! So I ran. I thought it must be less than a mile to the finish, so I took off without missing a beat. Since my GPS data is all messed up, I’m not sure of exact distances; but I’m pretty sure it was considerably more than a mile. Had I known how far I had to go on foot, I’m not sure I would have bothered.
Just to be clear, I have to comment that I hate running. I can run, but I really dislike it in all forms. It bores me to tears. Add this to the fact that the latter part of the course is probably the most fun to ride, and you have a good dose of frustration going on. Regardless, I trudged on, even though I was getting passed by many riders but still no single-speeders. I literally sprinted to the finish taking 3rd in my category.
I’ve been looking forward to this race all year. I love the course, but all of the stupid problems left me extremely frustrated. I was pretty comfortably in second place before the flat tires and hoping to surprise Pete before the end of the race. That was not to be. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much: getting a podium spot after two flats and running the last mile or so isn’t anything to be upset about.
I forgot to start my Garmin before the race. Periodically, I tried fumbling with it; but that’s hard to do when navigating technical terrain. Eventually, I got it to work but quite late into the race. On top of that, the data was all mixed up with a ride I did in Ludlow a couple of days prior. Sorry, no Strava data this time around unless I can figure out how to edit the data file.
After the race I hung out with some of my team mates. The weather was nice and warm so we took a dip in the lake once I had recovered from my run a little. A nice end to the day.
My daughter, Emma, had her own flat tire (again) and came in second place in her race. She put in a good effort on a course that is far from easy to ride even for experienced racers. She also had to run in the last leg of the race due to a flat tire.
- My messed up Strava data for the race.
- Art Roti’s report
- Carl’s report (NEMBA Racing)
- Official Results PDF (or from EFTA)
- Report on MTBR
- another at Single Track Mind
- Coverage at Cycling Media (single-speed Podium video, Interview with Pete MacLeod)
- TVR Facbook page