Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hodges Dam Race: On the Podium! (with a dead car in the parking lot)

A few weekends ago I had a very good weekend.  It all started out with my sister and her two friends coming out for a Boston Red Sox game.  They started driving from Michigan on Friday at noon, and left Sunday at 9:00AM, in between this we spent almost all day Saturday in Boston.  The Red Sox were playing the Detroit Tigers and we all made out first trip to Fenway Park to watch.  Before the game we took a tour of the Sam Adams Brewery and did a little sight seeing in Boston.  Although I do not have any pictures of all of us, I did manage to put a good picture of Fenway together:

Long story short, it was a nail bitter and the Red Sox pulled off a 5-4 win, with a walk off double by Big Papi.  It was great to have them come visit, but hopefully next time they can stay a little longer!

Now comes Sunday and the Hodges Dam Race.  My original intentions were to go to the race to see how two nights of little sleep, drinking beer midday the day before, eating ball park food, and walking all over the place would impact my performance.  I made the trip down, but before I parked I noticed a rather loud knocking in my rear end.  With this I decided that I made the trip, so race first then take care of the car later.  I registered, and started to warm up, and I felt pretty fatigued, it was hot and dusty (terrible for asthma), and  the field was very strong, with the odds stacked pretty high, I knew this would be something.

The race started, and I wanted to get into the single track first because of the terrible dust.  I accomplished this goal, and to my surprise I actually put a little gap on my chasers, however my chain then fell out and I had to hop off the bike.  Once I got it back on I had fell to 9th place or so.  I then began my chase, and slowly started passing a few dudes.  I then caught up to John Foley, and him and I continued to ride through the field together, and at this point I actually started to feel pretty good.  We kept it on until we caught Mike Mooradian, who was in second place.  At this point we rode together, which meant that our group represented 2nd-4th place, I have placed 4th too many times, so I knew this was a good chance to crack the top three.  With this is mind I got up front and pushed the pace.  However we were sticking together, and I just kept it on, and eventually with about 30 min left to race it was just Mooradian and myself.  I knew that I was feeling good, so as we got into the singletrack I kept the pace high, and was able to  put gain some ground between myself and Mooradian.  I was now on second place, and knowing that Seamus Powell was up front I wanted to try to keep second place.  However, I started noticing that my rear tire was losing air!  I franticly put CO2 into the tire, and hoped back on.  I was ten minutes out and just slammed on the gas, and as I was making a corner I went down.  I got back up, and then kept up the pace until I crossed the line in second place (Nate got second in his race too).

On another note this was the Massachusetts State Championship Bike Race, and as Seamus is from New York I won the state title in the Pro/Open category (my grandparents claim that I am now the King of Mass!)

So my experiment turned out differently than originally expected.  I ate horribly, drank beer, walked all over the place, hardly slept, and had the stress of a broken car and I managed my best race of the year.  I do not think that I will do this before every race, however everything lined up pretty well and the course was a good fit.  Check me out on the podium, still in my racing clothes covered in the dust (why you might ask, keep reading):

After the race was over I started working on getting my car home (hence not changing).  I called AAA, and found out that I could get my car towed 3 miles for free, and than pay a ton for every additional mile.  As I was about 60 miles from home I decided to have it towed near by, not ideal, but it would get my car out!  In times like this I am always happy to have my buddy Nate Peppin around, who stepped in with his 100 miles tow card, and I called AAA back up and let them in on this new development.  The tow truck showed up, as seen below, and took the car to Nate's house:

Nate and I had looked around the rear end and noticed a broken rod in my rear suspension, we thought we could fix it.

Nate took the reins and got the part ordered and installed, he then came and got me and I picked up my functioning car!  I would like to thank Nate and his mom Dawn for helping me out in this situation, I am happy to have had these great people at bike races for all of my four summers out east starting back when I had my internship in Connecticut.  Whether its bottle support or sitting around waiting for a tow truck and then feeding me dinner afterwards, they have truly been an instrumental part in my mountain bike racing!