Talk about 0-60mph. Jumping into 3 laps at the Pinnacle with hardly any time on dirt let alone race efforts is a stiff drink for sure. For those that don't know I've been dealing with an angry shoulder for several weeks now and I've just gotten things a bit more stable and I felt like I was good to ride/race with things taped up tight.
Due to the shoulder issue I have been trying to stay off dirt and stay quiet to recover, doing mostly commuting and some road miles to keep the fitness from completely falling off. My fitness isn't horrible right now but I found out pretty quick that my top end is a bit dull and the rest of me hasn't been 'trail hardened' yet.
We had a decent sized SS field and unfortunately for me it was pretty stacked. The start was pretty fast and I was positioned fairly well for maybe the first 300yds or so then as the first few pitches punch you square in the gut I could feel that the legs were a bit sluggish. Each pitch the lead group inched away and I wasn't making up any ground in the singletrack. But I was probably still sitting about 5th-6th of 10 or so. I was all over the place on the first lap. Functioning while redlining is one of those things that you also need to build into and my decision making and line accuracy was lacking at first.
We were in a pretty good pace line probably about halfway down ripping through a few quick S turns and I came out just a bit wide on the last one and my front wheel got out into the sluff and I took a dive. Happened so fast I didn't even really let go of the handlebars, just high sided pretty hard and flipped over and rolled down the embankment a bit. Luckily it was nice soft loam.
Finished up the lap without getting passed back and got back to slogging back up. Second lap I was riding much cleaner and getting into more of a groove. Was still feeling pretty sluggish though, no real punch. By the time I got into the second descent I was starting to get pretty thrashed. If riding steel is rigid, riding carbon up front is rigid+. Without a doubt this fork is much more harsh than the Sanko steel Redline fork I was on last year. But to its credit it may beat the crap out of you but when you point it it locks in and it shreds. I'm going to have to do some heavy pondering though. Steel is still pretty accurate when it comes to steering and compared to this fork is down right comfortable. I'm going to have to decide if the accuracy and weight is worth the punishment. I'm not making any decisions yet but short term I've got a line on Bully's old red Salsa fork and long term I might need to actually think about suspension...maybe. Don't hold your breath.
The other thing I sort of took for granted was the callouses that I usually have pretty well built up by this time of year. No time on dirt means no callouses, combine that with a much more brutal front end and you have a recipe for this.
Luckily adrenaline kept me from really feeling this during the race. I could feel things getting a bit squishy and I was fairly certain what I was in for when I crossed the line. And sure enough two big blood stains on the palms of my gloves. I got right to trying to gross everyone out in the finish area. I got a lot of "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU" and "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU JUST BUY SOME SUSPENSION"
Held my position for 6th of 10 starters (with one DNF). My time was about on par with what I usually do on this course although I do think I probably lost more time of the descents than I usually do. And even with all these issues I still beat an ok percentage of the geared Expert field. So all in all it was an ok day and the shoulder is holding up well today so I'm gonna chalk it up as a win. A raw, bloody, squishy WIN.