Written by Michael Green Friday, 29 November 2019 00:00
With my MTB season over, it’s time to focus on CX. My third goal of the year was to win state championships but with a lack of “pop” for some reason perhaps some focused racing would remedy such. At the setting of past UCI racing at Bloomer Park in Rochester, I’d decided to race back-to-back masters and singlespeed. A week of bitter cold and snow has set up fun potential as I arrived at the site. Blue skies and sunshine had made the morning a beauty. The temperatures hovered below freezing and the track was running fast and hard during my pre-ride: I’ll be running file treads.
With the sun high in the sky, high that is for November, it was quite toasty on the trainer for warm up. That same sun had now changed the conditions of the track and I was ill prepared. It was now getting quite greasy on much of the course and the corners were getting nasty. The problem is that as I lined up, I had no clue. The whistle blew, I had a great start and weaved myself close to the front but the straight away was no reflection on the rest of the course. I’d left my other bike at the car for ease during my 20 minute turnaround between races so I was stuck with my decision. Frankly, poor preparation on my part and I went backwards losing spots to others with better tread selection. I finished the race as best I could, in a bit of a pissy mood but had a quick 20 minutes to get warm, change wheels on my singlespeed, eat and drink and get back to staging.
My singlespeed had a file tread on the rear and a mixed condition tread on the front. I had an extra mixed rear in the car so I quickly swapped wheels but also had to swap rear cogs to get the gearing right, and of course i almost forgot to switch Jersey with the appropriate race number.
Wow, what a difference the tires made. Knowing the straight away was a strength for me I pressed the pace and entered the first turn in third position. I could now lean into the corners and actually not spin out when I pushed on the pedals. Now my Kona Super Jake was behaving at it should. I was dancing on the pedals sitting comfortably in third and the three of us soon separated ourselves from the rest - this is what these races should feel like! That’s how we stayed for 30 to 35 minutes, until the leader decided to relinquish his pole position.
Traditionally one of the strongest singlespeeders in Michigan ‘cross decided to pull back from leading with a lap to go. The previous second placed guy was happy to pull and I slid into second wondering what games may be planned behind me. As we turned onto a fast slight downhill into some wooded singletrack the leaders front tire got caught up in a wet boggy section. He went down with bike flying into the air. I batted it down with my right forearm, jumped out of my seat and gave everything I had - I had a gap and the crash residue and held up the others.
And that was that. I redlined first the remaining three quarters of a lap shouting “don’t catch me, don’t catch me” to myself and “rode smooth, ride smooth”. This was my first open singlespeed win and a big turn around from the earlier fiasco. The race announcer commented on the fact that I’d been saving myself but in reality, that’s all I could do. Note to self: use the right tires.
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