Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hopbrook Dam Race

It was really nice to see Rachel and Tim my Sister and Brother in law come down to watch me race. Jesse took the picture and stood in the poring rain for 2 hours on our Anniversary. Thank you for being there you are the best.
Coal miner look


I didn't even know I had 503 for a number until the first lap was over and the official called out my number. 503! you know 503 cycleworks. So I thought that was pretty cool.

Here is a little clip showing off my smoothness and that I was in front of Thom Parsons for a little bit. I can't believe he road such a huge gear. Afterwards he said that it was faster to run up the hills. Then he easily pulled away on the flat section drafting a geared rider. I guess that's the thing to do when you ride with gearies.

So the start of the race I felt really calm and comfortable chatting with Monte and hanging out at the front of the line. I had no idea that Tim Johnson was there. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. I'm way out of league with these guys so I'm really just racing with the pros as a cat 1. If I don't come in last that's fine with me.

So the start was going good but I wasn't used to such aggressiveness as people were passing me on the left and right. I was right behind someone but I guess I should have been passing too. My small gear wouldn't let me go too fast on the flats so I kinda expected that. So right off the pavement some dude cant make it up this small hill and forces me off the bike. No big deal. Now I'm around 18th place out of 24. I know this because cyclingdirt has a video that shows me in 18th. I'm not sure but I think Thom and I are the only single speeders. I thought Monte would be single and where was Rob Stine? Well if you look at the video from cycling dirt you will see that me and Thom are the only ones standing. Which would not help because the trail was really slick so trying to control the rear from spinning out every pedal stroke was very hard. Plus it would slow me way down. I was at one point behind John Foley on a huge climb but that didn't last long.
On the second lap I lost about %90 of my rear brake. 2 days before I was at 503 Cycleworks talking with Josh about my brakes. He looked at the rear brakes and said I needed to replace them but I was not going to. Trying to save every penny to buy a new bike is really hard. I should have listened. Josh is a top notch mechanic and I should listen to him. I'm still waiting for my Selma to arrive from Taiwan or China. It won't be here until mid May. I really could have used some 29" tires to grip on the mud. Andrew Freye won Hopbrook on a 29er. I love it when he says that in Maine he puts on a full face helmet and ski goggles to go riding in the harsh winters of Maine. He's the man! He beat Tim Johnson too!
Back to having no rear brake I was starting to think that it was over. I would have to quit. I slowed down and was getting really bumed out. Then I decided to keep going and just modify my riding a bit. What was happening was I would pull the rear brake and then when that bottomed out and I still wasn't slowing I would jam on the front brake by reflex causing the front wheel to lock up. Not good on a muddy course. So every down hill I would keep my speed down so that I could control my front wheel from locking up. Rear brake fully engaged to the handlebar. I even unscrewed the adjustment to the max. So I think that costed me the most time.
I was trying to keep up with other riders in my class like Parsons but found that when I lost him I still had Seamus Powell (pronounced Shamus) in my sights. The third lap I was on to him and passed him going up hill just for him to pass me on the flats with his gears. But I could tell he was not having the best day and as soon as we hit the last hill before the finish I decided to crush him and launched an attack (cat 1 style) and left him on the hill. I needed to gain some ground so that I could creep down the next muddy section with rear brake fully engaged. After that I didn't see him for the rest of the race and I felt really good and happy. My legs started to cramp a bit on the last lap but I pushed that aside and had the best race. If I raced the ss class I would have won. But now I'm really excited to lose. Not lose but just to race with these guys and not come in last is a really good feeling.
So I still have no idea how I placed. I think somewhere in the middle which would be fine by me. I learned a lot.
#1 listen to your bike mechanic. Especially if his name is Josh Wilcox
#2 Don't let a little thing like not having any rear brake make you quit or slow you down. Who needs brakes anyway?
#3 have fun
I'm off to Marthas Vineyard this week and will be racing Battenkill on Saturday. I'm hoping to get some good rest and a little bit of riding in to do well.


  1. You did awesome!
    The next two races are perfect for you.

  2. Awesome job, James! Maybe if you went with a bigger gear like TP and listened to the Rocket you would have done even better. Did you ever think losing would be so much fun?! I'll call you later in the week to firm up logistics for ToB.

  3. Don't know about the bigger gear. I hurt.

    Good job man, look forward to riding with you some more out there.