For us, the course would be 4 laps of quick, up and down, singletrack for 22 miles total. Without any major climbs, I went with a 32×18 gear (on a 29â€™er), and rode a Maxxis Ignitor tire on the front, and a Kenda Small Block Eight on the back. Even though this course was more rooty then rocky, I learned my lesson last time and wasnâ€™t going to chance a lightweight tire again. Without a paved start, or any major flat sections, I was optimistic about my chances on a singlespeed.
I got a good start and headed into the almost BMX style singletrack in 10th place. The pace was fast and my gear perfect, I was keeping a nice even pace with the geared riders. Half way through the first lap I had my first odd experience. Coming into a wooden bridge crossing, I somehow got off my line and almost flew over the creek to the left of the bridge. Somehow I pulled a foot out and pushed off the far bank, only losing a few positions. The next couple laps went well, I was able to start picking off some other riders. I went into the last lap in front of Andrew Alesio (Fuji Bikes), in 9th. Then the second odd thing happened. On a short downhill with a few roots, I crashed hard for no apparent reason. The most frustrating part was landing with my back on my handlebars, and getting my jersey caught in my brakelever. I extracted myself and hopped back on with my left calf cramping, and in a reasonable amount of pain. Andrew passed me shortly, having crashed himself early in the race. I soldiered on and concentrated on holding my position to the finish. With a half mile to go it happened again. On a short rise, suddenly my left pedal felt funny. I looked down to see the crankarm dangling from my shoe. Slowly realizing what happened I grabbed it and unsnapped the pedal from my shoe, almost taking out Ray Adams (Visit Pa.com) and Blair Saunders (Secret Henryâ€™s) as they passed me. So close to the finish I choose to run it in, rather than attempt a repair. I ended up in 12th, not too bad considering my string of luck, and I was the only Elite finisher on a singlespeed.
What’s missing here?
Even with the crash and mechanical issue I feel like I finished in a group well matched to my own ability. Without those problems I might have been a few places higher, but I donâ€™t think it would have been any different on a geared bike. I was able to punch it up most of the climbs and didnâ€™t have to run anything, at least while I had two crankarms. There was a sandy, flat, back stretch where I did lose 20-40 meters to the geared riders, but I was able to make it up on the next climb. Without any big climbs this course suited powerful shorttrack style riders better than me, and Semi-Pro Short Track National Champion Wes Schempf (Visit Pa.com) took the win in a sprint to the line. In this race I felt like the singlespeed was certainly not a disadvantage, but finishing with a single crankarm was. Time for me to get back to my ice and beer, I take convalescence seriously. My goal for the next race, in 2 weeks, is a really boring race report.
Three bags of ice, and a beer.