I had never really earmarked the Rumpus as a race format I would excel at so I went into it knowing it was a training ride and not really caring if my prep was ideal. Hence a 32 mile ride the day before. I had planned this route as a training ride for the NH100 last year but broke my chain 3 miles in and walked back home. Seemed like as good a time as any to make another stab at it and with Shaun leaning heavily towards racing the 100 as well things all fell into place.
We almost got rained out, in fact we had called things off at about 7am with it pouring both up here and in Boston. But things cleared out quickly after that and I bombarded Shaun with several forms of communication and we were back on track (after Shaun ate waffles).
After buttering up Shaun and I hit the road for a 12.5mi ride to Franklin Falls via dirt, class VI jeep roads and pavement. The ride out went great, it was a bit humid but not bad and we made pretty short work of it, ripping down steep dirt roads and washed out jeep track. We got to Franklin Falls grabbed a quick bite...and then the mouth of hell opened up and swallowed me whole.
The ride summed up in 3 pics: Rubber side down
At about mile .5 of our singletrack loop I went to ride up and over a boulder on Whaleback that I do every time I ride that trail (4 billion times). Mind you I was riding my monster cross bike which is a 26er and I usually ride a 29er. Smaller wheels have a harder time with huge boulders. I made it up (barely) but my semi-slick tires slid out and I had to bail off the side. Mind you I bailed to the left yet somehow still managed to bend the shit out of my derailleur hanger. AWESOME. No idea how I pulled that off. So we spent about 30 mins hitting my frame with a rock (this becomes the theme of the day) until it was manageable and I had decent shifting and most of my gears back. We rode almost the rest of our singletrack loop with no issue until we were heading back out on Moose Gulley and I tried to power up a short steep uphill...
Rubber side up
And my chain explodes (probably due to slipping and then binding because my hanger was bent). And guess what I don't have? A CHAIN BREAK TOOL. Sooooooooooooo, get me a rock. Spent the next hour and 15mins beating the ever loving crap out of a chain pin trying to remove it so I could use the master link I had in my camelback. Broke my multi-tool, broke Shaun's multi-tool. Blood everywhere. I used a fence, one of those concrete blocks at the end of parking spaces, a leatherman loaned to me by Jimbo the weedwacker, and shear will power. And I got that damn pin out. Shaun has video, its going to be a summer blockbuster.
A Blockbuster INDEED
Master link did the trick and Shaun and I limped 12mi home and then drank my Sweet Stout. Its damn good, Shaun says top 4, I tend to agree.
Ok now to race day. Needless to say I have some residual fatigue in my legs from yesterday's ordeal. But really all I was looking for was a hard effort to build fitness for July and its a good thing that's all I was looking for cause that is what I got, well that and what I believe is a legit DFL in the Expert class.
At first I actually felt ok, warming up felt decent and I thought maybe I would make a go of things for as long as I could and then just ride tempo. That strategy lasted until about mile .5 when I dropped my chain, seemingly do to a poor line choice and really bad luck because my tension felt good, and watched everyone ride away into the distance. I ended up dropping the chain two more times scattered over the 28 miles, only thing I can think of was it was an older 18 tooth cog I found in my shop that might have been just a bit too worn out. I really needed the 16 tooth for this course that I joked about running but didn't because I thought it would be just a bit too tough. Doesn't really matter though I probably didn't really have the juice to power a 16 anyway.
That didn't help my rhythm and this course was all rhythm and pure power output, so I kinda settled into a tempo ride, hard but not too hard and spun things out. Things got a bit ridiculous by my last lap, I was extremely far behind just about (possibly literally) everyone and the skies finally opened up and dumped the storm that the forecast had been promising. Sheets of rain, it was very hard to see and breath even with all that water coming down and then one of the most ridiculous things that has even happened to me took place.
I start rounding one of the corners and I start hearing a lot of cracking and snapping from what sounds like all around me, it was hard to pinpoint sounds within the deafening roar of the rain. Luckily I am from Cow Hampshire and I know what it sounds like when a tree is starting to fall. I slow down a bit because I still can't see where exactly it's falling. Then about 30ft in front of me an ENORMOUS tree comes crashing out of the woods and falls completely across the trail I was riding on. Easily 18-24in in diameter, fatal on impact for sure. So in an alternate universe where I didn't drop my chain 3 times I might have been 30ft in front of myself and been killed. Food for thought kids. So yeah after that I kinda just meandered through the woods listening intently, riding through huge flash puddles and getting soaked through my bones not just to them.
Crossed the line around 2hrs after I started, which was a horrible time for this course even with the weather, packed up my stuff and got the hell out of there. I took some pics, including an awesome one of me looking shell shocked afterwards, but I think either my camera of my SD card is crapping out cause they were all 'corrupt' when I tried to move them to my laptop...
So my EFTA season to date has been kind of a wash so far, a tax write off at best. I am hoping I can turn things around at the Pinnacle next week, if there is any venue that can lift my spirits it's that one.