Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rockin the SS at H2H Lewis Morris

The Lewis Morris race may not be the most technical race out there, but it certainly has its place in the H2H series. It has wide rooty trails and is quite fast and rolling in nature. Perfect for a single-speed in my opinion. I decided to try my hand at racing my single-speed in my usual expert class with four laps.

After a pre-ride on Wednesday, and having to fast 36 hours for a medical procedure that required anesthesia on Friday, I opted on the conservative side with a light 32x20 gearing. I ran a nevegal tire up front, a small block in back and a pink rubber-band on my tensioner.

Race day came, and as always it became very social from the get go. This race traditionally brings out a lot of first time racers because the course is not intimidating, and when I arrived I ran into three or four riders that I knew from the All Girl Rides and club outings that had just finished their first race. It was nice to take in all the new vibes, and excitement as I still remember my first race at this very same venue, 15 years ago.

When it came time to race, I lined up to the side of the front row as a courtesy. This would allow space for anyone to pass, as I would spin out with my single-speed gearing on the flat road start. Not sure what happened back there, but I found myself strangely in the lead. I actually slowed, waiting for riders to come by, but nothing happened, so I went with it, and pedaled away with everyone cheering. I sat in second place making the right turn to the climb and held strong, my heart pounding, but unable to judge my hear-rate, as I forgot to take my monitor off my other bike.

Being on a SS, I may have driven the pack pace up a notch with a climb close to the start, but I really had no choice to my speed with my one gear. It’s all or nothing. And when you descend, it is amazing how quick you learn to be efficient and use your momentum when it is you that will pay for every bit of energy wasted.

I finally settled into a pace behind Jess from Marty's and in front of my teammate Laura for lap 2. It was fun to ride together, but I may have started to get too comfortable, so when I noticed Jess slow down before the last climb, I decided to make a move and pass her, gaining some momentum, in hopes that I could stay on my bike up the hill. It worked out well in the long run, as I got back on the pace and rode ahead eventually reeling in my teammate, Dar on the last lap. Not having quite enough speed on the descents to pass Dar, I finished in 3rd place just 30 seconds behind her.

Besides a little lower back pain on the first lap, I felt great during the race. I am quite pleased with how well I rode and where I finished. Riding the single-speed can force me to work harder and can still be really fun. On top of being fun, there are many lessons to be learned on a single-speed. I found the whole day to be an exciting and refreshing change from the usual format. I am also impressed with Laura, who also rode a single-speed and finished only minutes behind.

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