What a rip roarin' end to the season I'm having. It's becoming apparent I'm dipping a bit too deep and its time to take a step back, dial it down, etc. and just enjoy the rest of the Fall riding season and finally get completely joint healthy. And apparently in order for me to come to these realizations I need two pretty serious sufferfests in a row.
The Bradbury 12 is a great event. One of my favorite courses, well organized, just a grand ole time all around. Shaun and I planned on running our Double-Single team back again but life happened and I was without teammate trying to come up with a plan. I had toyed with eventually trying something like this solo for a bit and figured this was as good a time as any. I offered the support crew chief position to my dad, which he graciously accepted and we were a go.
I rolled into town Friday afternoon at about 1pm and scored the very last campsite available. Complete dumb luck. 5mins later and I would probably have missed it. And go figure the site was right next to the couple Shaun and I camped next to at Carrabassett. We spent a few minutes trying to figure out who was stalking who then I set up camp and went out for a preride. Course was actually still pretty wet in spots from a huge storm that apparently blew through earlier in the week. It was only here and there though, the rest was pretty dry and fast. I had decided last second to throw the 20t cog on the Spot to help me pace myself early and be easier to turn over late. It was definitely the right call. My low effort preride got me a time of about 50mins which was right around where I wanted to be.
Apparently completely unforecasted rain is like a thing in Pownal, ME because for the second year in a row I woke up to rain drops. Nothing too crazy but enough to slicken everything up and make the wet spots worse. I set up my stuff in the support area, Dad showed up and got situated and then we lined up for the start. All us solo singlespeeders got acquainted and at the gun we filtered into our own little group towards the back of the first wave.
I was leading things into the woods and we all stayed pretty close for the first mile or so. I let it run a bit in the tight stuff and David H. stayed with me, by the time we got to the first fire road climb I snuck a peak back and it was just the two of us the rest were out of view. Towards the end of the first lap I all of a sudden starting hearing some really weird clunky sounds coming from the rear of the bike after a fast rough section. It was bad enough that I stopped to take a closer look and its a good thing I did because my skewer had worked its way loose and when I picked the back end of the bike up to look the wheel fell right out. Must have spaced locking it down real tight after changing my gearing.
For some reason it was being a real bitch to get back in, David H rode away and I was caught by Kaj and Jesse while I was trying to fix it. I was able to get back going and catch back on to Jesse and Kaj and lapped through with them. Got going on my second lap and almost ran right into an enormous porcupine. Yes, thats right. Rounded a corner and there it was right in the middle of the trail. If I hadn't been paying attention I would have gotten to see if Stan's sealant can handle 50 quill punctures. It eventually lumbered off the trail and I was back on my way.
Second lap was good. Traffic had worked itself out and I was trying to keep the pace reasonable. Stopped for a feed at the end of 2 and I think Kaj snuck by me so I was into 3rd with David H still holding the gap he got while I was fixing my wheel. 3rd and 4th laps were ok but the course was starting to wear on me more than I had hoped it would. I don't remember it being that bad the year prior but the breaks in between must have been just enough to recover from the beating.
I was concerned I was wasting a lot of energy (and time) in the rough stuff and I believe on lap 5 I was caught by Kevin M. early on and he just rode away through the bumpy stuff and I just couldn't quite stay with him. This led to me making the (in hindsight poor/incorrect) decision of switching to the Party Bike early to try and make up some time and conserve energy through all the rooty sections. I was getting antsy about loosing a minute here and there at not even the halfway point of a 12hr race. Rookie mistake. My lap times were still in the mid 50's or so and if I had continued on the Spot and switched much later like planned I think I could have ridden to 3rd or even 2nd but no point going too far down the what-if road.
Called for the bike change lapping through from 5 to 6. Dad helped with the quick pit change and I got out on course looking to party. And for awhile things were going well. It was definitely faster in the rough stuff and I felt like it was easier to keep momentum. I was trying to open it up in the tight stuff and take full advantage of the sections of the course that suited me. Course conditions had been deteriorating all day, getting more and more greasy as mud got tracked around onto bridges and roots. My poor decision making and risk taking came to a head about 2/3 into the lap...it all happened pretty fast so I won't be able to paint the best picture but its a pretty standard mix of high speed wash-out and getting jammed up going through some off camber roots and before I knew it I was flying off the bike to my left.
As luck would have it I instinctively put my hands out to break my fall, which worked (I am excellent at crashing) but my bum left wrist took a doozy of a hit. Surprisingly, right after things seemed ok and after I got sorted I continued on my way albeit a bit more cautiously. As I finished up lap 6 I was starting to feel pressure on the tape around my left wrist...here comes the swelling! I wasn't feeling awesome at this point but I was still on pace for 12 laps even with all my issues so I got my bearings and went out for 7. The shallow false flat early in the lap went well enough but as soon as I got to some shorter little power sections I realized that my left hand didn't really have the strength to hold/pull up on the bars. The more I tried to just deal with it (SHUT UP WRIST) the worse it got.
I still had a pretty decent amount of fun and it was cool having my dad there giving me all kinds of race intel each lap. Not sure if I would ever do this format solo again. These races seem much more tailor made and fun for a team. So for now I'm gonna recover then throw a real small gear on the Party Bike and do Fall at 3/4 speed.