It seems as if I have cracked my own personal fitness puzzle this year to a certain extent and I have punched through to my next level. My fitness has been feeling really good this year and its continuing to come around even now. I'm feeling stronger later into races, power is better and today felt like a culmination of sorts, until it all wobbled away.
NEMBA tent was the place to be again this week. Us Experts got a front row seat for some great results for our Sport and Novice riders. Our shenanigans got going at high Noon first with the Elites and then the SSer's. I think we had our typical field size of about 9-10 or so. First lap hurt like hell (per usual) and I was sitting 3/4 with Mark through most of it. Pete M. got away early, cause hes silly fast, and Brad B. always has a strong start and had gotten out ahead of me and Mark. There was another rider stalking a bit in there who passed us just up at the top but he wasn't the best descender and we were right back on him and by never to see him again.
so excited to start suffering
Mark and I hauled through the Plummet together on lap 1 and caught back up to Brad just past the water tower. We were now sitting 2/3 and we had Carl and the Bully for company. Finally a 4 man NEMBA pace line! I was feeling really good at that point and climbing a tad in front of Mark (probably because he was pushing a gear I couldn't even shake a stick at on that course) and Brad was still in there as well. I topped out just in front of Bully with Carl up the trail a bit and disappearing.
I was really feeling the additional PSI up front with the tube (how did I ride like that all the time before?) and riding a bit on the cautious side. Probably a mistake because Brad caught me bombing on his Wraith FS singlespeed rig when I bobbled in a techy spot so now I'm racing in 3rd. I was back on quick and chasing hard through the 'pump track in the sky' and somewhere in the next 5-10mins of racing something happened that ruined my day. Frustrating point is I have no idea where or how, for all I know it could have been a cumulative beating that did it in or a somewhat silent tweak that did the deed but I don't remember ever taking one solid shot.
Mark caught me towards the end of the 'pump track' section (damn you guys and your suspension!) and we were hammering along with a small group heading into the descent. Not long after that I started hearing my tire rubbing on my frame going through corners. It slowly was getting worse and worse so I finally tried to steal a peak while riding to see what I could see. I looked down to see my wheel wobbling all over the place. Then I looked up to see my right hand heading right for a tree...whoops. Went heavy on the brakes and piled everyone up behind me. Your welcome guys!
I pulled over to see if maybe the wheel had wiggled partially out of the dropouts again based on my issues last week...but nope locked in tight. Checked the sliding dropouts next to see if one had loosened up... nope solid. Start checking spokes to see if a few had all loosened up...nope all felt fairly solid. ????? I'm very confused at this point, I try popping the wheel out and reseating it just to see if it helps and it does a tad but there is still a mean wobble. I hop back on and try riding gingerly but the more I ride the worse it gets.
I slowly start to realize I was working on the result of my career at that point and I was probably done for the day unless I wanted to ride the wheel into the ground and out myself a few hundred $$. So I got really pissed/frustrated for about 20secs and then started walking down one of my favorite descents in New England. Mark ended up catching and passing Brad for second and Brad held on for 3rd. Brad was riding strong and descending great but I felt great too and I'm fairly certain I could have put enough time into him on lap 3's climb to secure at least 3rd. But who knows.
I'm just hoping my wheel isn't toast, that would really add insult to injury. I'll probably bring it into the shop tomorrow, my truing skills are probably not up to this task. The biggest positive I think I can take from this whole fiasco is I am now HUNGRY. My motivation for the next few weeks is sky high right now. I've had a podium (a real podium, not a gimme) in my grasp, so close I could taste it. I'll be guns blazing at Moody for sure and working hard between now and then to stay sharp.