Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Since my last race at Enduro Rama I had been feeling a bit burned out and not looking forward to anymore racing for this year. A week off the bike, and I found myself back in the saddle, riding for enjoyment once again, but I was still not feeling much like racing. Art really wanted to race Bear Creek Pa Aug 11-12 to get a look at the trails that may be used in next years National Championships which are finally coming back to the east coast. So back out to Pennsylvania we went, but this time I tagged on a day riding out at Rattling Creek and a nights stay at Glasbern, a working farm Inn outside of Allentown.
The riding at Rattling was good, but I find myself becoming a snob as the local trails in New Jersey are really outstanding and other places never seem as nice. The stay at Glasbern was really nice. We had a lovely dinner of grass fed meats, raised on the farm and homegrown vegetables and dairy products. The farm was beautiful as well. Art and I never did take a 30 year anniversary trip, so this was a really nice splurge for the day, and just another reminder that I am married to a very special guy.
Friday we headed over to Bear Creek in the rain and waited until the rain stopped to get on the XC course. It was quite technical and being that it was wet made me ride/walk with caution. My mind set was certainly not feeling up to racing with my first inspection of the course.
Saturday was the Super-D and we all got up early to take some practice runs. This was not the usual ski area set up where you took a lift ride to the top for your runs. They had a pick-up truck to transport you uphill like in the old days. The super-D course was not nearly as technical as the XC and in two runs, I was confident. I was seeded behind Art and in front of Willy and then trials superstar, Jeff Lenosky in 1 minute intervals. I enjoyed our little NJ posse. I ended up having a great run, super smooth and in control, but maybe not hanging it out as much as some of the other racers. Willy and Jeff caught me a few turns before the finnish, which was way better than I expected. The run was a blast!
Cross Country: The main purpose of attending the race at Bear Creek was to preview the course for next year’s National Championship, and I had not put much preparation into the race in the week prior. Art had installed a new front tire after Salisbury, and I was waiting on a new rear tire that was on order. I was aware that my rear tire’s sealant was dried out, but I thought it was not practical to mess with the tire until the new tire arrived. I am telling you this, because what I did was not something I would recommend you ever do. Yes, I was lazy, but don’t do what I did. Sealant MUST be updated every few months if you want Tubeless to work properly. Stans NoTubes even makes a handy injector and a valve removal tool to make this maintenance job quite easy.
Race day I warmed up like usual and found that I felt better than expected in the fitness part. I took a quick preview of the opening singletrack before my race to check the conditions. Conditions were perfect but I rode several lines through the first rock garden to connect with my bike handling. This also helped reassure my confidence. Fridays pre-ride on a wet course had left me apprehensive, so a few runs through the rocks left me sure of my skills and balance.
I went to the start line and was finally released onto the course from the third row of women. By the top of the gravel climb I was in 4th place behind a super engine. When we got to the rock garden she dismounted and my practice came in handy as I found a way to ride around her and up and over the big rock with ease. I eventually climbed my way up to 2nd place mostly by just staying on my bike and nursing my traction over wet rocks and roots. Although, at that time, I had a 10 year record of never flatting in a race with tubeless, the #1 reason why I love Tubeless tires, is because low tire pressure allows my rear tire to hug the ground when I need it.
My initial effort left me a tad over my limit as my stomach started to cramp, and I had to back it down a tad putting me back into 4th. As soon as we hit the technical stuff, I came to life, and was riding like a rock star. These trails were quite challenging and demanded all my focus. My mind was far from suffering but delighted with challenge. I was riding like a completely different person than on Friday. After hopping and soaring my way down the mountain I was faced with a climb that seemed easy in anticipation of the decent. This was truly a fun bike handler course. Everything was going great, right?
… and then about 1 mile from the finish I felt things getting weird with my back end. Sure enough, I had flatted in the rear with no sealant. When I got home I found that I had speared a nail making 2 holes and nicking my rim. The holes were small, and if I had fluid, I probably could have limped out, but that was not the case. I did eventually finish and as the only 50+ women, awarded the win, but my biggest prize was conquering the trails. It also was a good reminder that if I do not properly maintain my tubeless, I increase my chances of flatting, and in this case, broke my 10 year record of never flatting in race. I'm hoping to be better prepared for my next race and National Championships.
What sealant will look like when it dries out