Awesome job to they guys that put on this race. The course was beautiful and well marked. Tim and Jim from Eastern promotions are great guys and do a fabulous job. Bike Way also was there to make the race awesome.
This was the same course as the 12 hour race that I did a few months ago. I used a 34x20 for gearing. At the 12 hour race I had a 21 on. So I thought that it would go 1 tooth better. I should have put a 19 on for this race. There are some hills but they are short. Brian Kelly won the single speed class with a 32x20. So I don't know what would be better. No matter how you slice it riding against guys with gears is hard to deal with when they blow past you on the down hills.
Before I get any further I got 5th place! Josh Wilcox came in 4 minutes ahead of me! Then Seamus Powell for 3rd and the Alesio twins from the fuji team came in 1 and 2. I was glad we stuck around for the awards because they went 5 deep and I won $60. We were comparing the times of the cat 1's and if we raced the 30-39 Josh would have won and I would have come in second. Greg Wagner crashed in front of me and flatted and another guy that was up ahead of me flatted so that could have cost us something.
Seamus was having some technical difficulties with his saddle and had to stop a number of times. He was there at the end with the brothers but just "spent too many matches" for the win. He was on a superfly 29'er. The Mancuso bros were also on 29'ers.
I was trying my best to keep up with Josh. On the first lap I caught him on the first climb but when we started to descend he blew past me with his gears with Seamus right behind him. I could only hope that I would continue to climb strong to make up time. Every climb I was turning myself inside out to close the gap. I could see Josh on the course and would count the seconds to were I saw him last. 25 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then I lost track of my counting and knew he was over a minute ahead. Crap.
Then it was no mans land the rest of the race and it was getting really hard to keep the high tempo up. But I kept hoping that I would catch someone. Finally someone came up from behind me and was railing the downhill on a full suspension bike. He blew by me like I was standing still. It really wasn't that I was sketched out it was that I was under geared. But nailed the gearing for the climbs. Well I did catch this guy towards the end and not knowing he wasn't in my class I pulled up behind him and sucked off his wheel. then when the finish was in sight I blew past him to the finish. Turns out he was in the 40+ group. So he beat my time by 3 minutes any way.
This race course was really fun. Super fast and dry with some roots and rocks to make it interesting. Lot's of twisty turnies and some super drops that made me pucker up. The climbing wasn't too bad. There was only 3 climbs and they were spread out. In between the climbs was the super fast single and double track that if I had some gears I would have flown down. But I was stuck with my 20 tooth.
This lead to a conversation on the way home with Josh. I could turn my single speed Selma into a geared bike if I want to. If I'm going to race with the pros from now on I might consider it. I know it's a "Monte" moment for me. He tried it but it didn't seem to work for him. But he also can hang and beat those guys that won today with only one gear. So is it me or is it the bike? I ride with gears on the road and for cyclocross because I can't keep the speed up with out gears. Is it true with mountain biking? I don't know. On this course I was having a lot of fun just getting out of the saddle and not caring what gear I was in because it didn't matter, until I was spun out and felt super slow motion.
We also talked about suspension. My hands really were hurting (more then usual) during this race. I think it was the speed of the race due to the dry conditions. Everything was more of an impact on my body from going faster. I just wonder what would happen if I level the playing field again. Upgrading to the 29'er was the best thing I've done. Every body is going that route. Are gears in the future? I don't know.
This leads to another point. Is it all about winning? I don't know. Is it? Winning is great. The first race I won was at Channel 3 for the sport single speed class 3 years ago. I was so happy that it made me cry. I won, I won, I won!
I think it's more of the feeling of it being unfair if I lose because I only have one gear and no suspension. But on the other hand I "win" against guys with gears and full suspension. And with that I get a feeling of accomplishment.
But, riding with a single speed can be more efficient because I sometimes spin at a higher cadence and that helps me to last longer by pacing my self. I think for the longer distance races ss is ideal because you can pace yourself over the whole race. If I have gears I might try to power the big gears on the flats and down hills but granny the climbs witch is essentually the opposite of single speeding.
Then there is the whole individuality thing. If I race with gears and suspension then I blend in. No one seems impressed any more. No one says "Check out the dude with the gears!" But impressing by standards doesn't really help me win races. Or does it? You tell me.