Wow, what a wild weekend in Seattle! The Seattle single speed folks know how to poke fun at ourselves, party, and wrap it together with a race.
Friday. we got our first glimpse of the Saturday race qualifier on our cell phones via a facebook link to the race. Unfortunately I quickly discovered my blackberry has no zoom in or out feature for pics and the map pic contained very few street references. At 5:30 we got out as a team and rode for a half hour to an intersection of the race course and realized we better get back before it gets to dark. The only thing we learned is Seattle has a lot of hills, more similar to San Francisco, not so easy on the Single Speed.
Saturday morning, right before the prequalificaiton race we picked up a hard copy of the race map. Fortunately, my teammates, Garret and Brian just finished there race and gave me the low down. They both said find a local and stick with them like glue. The race was a street circuit race loop around Seattle’s Suburds, with many to-do style stops along the way, where you pick up a card for doing each of four different obstacles. My race unraveled from the start, while pissing in the port-a-potte, I heard my name called. I missed my assigned group start. The race promoter decided to mix it up and sent off my group 5 minutes early. I grabbed my bike and flung myself out on the course to chase my group. Riding on the streets of Seattle with no guide other that the hard copy map I had in my back pocket was never wracking. Getting stopped at a traffic light and knowing the clock was ticking as your teammates ride away, not cool. Somehow I passed my group in the first 20 minutes. Then I think back, I must of missed an obstacle, so I turn around, within minutes I see my teammate Derek Strong with 6 other guys. Derek had raced from his group who started 5 minutes behind me to catch my group. Derek informed me the riders he was with were my group. I wsa back into the race. First stop was an option of Beer guzzling or jump roping, I choose the later. We head out again, I move to the front and try to do a few pulls and quickly realize as I fly off course, I have no real idea where I’m going. Dereks says follow this guy he knows where he is going. I change tactics to follow Derek and the local guy. Sharp left turn off the pavement, at speed, as I hit my brakes, my rear wheel slides out from under me and I hit the wet pavement. I quickly get up, brush it off, and get back to the race, down the single track inches behind Derek, full speed ahead. I look back and see we are gaping our group then I look forward and see Derek shutting his bike down as the trail ends and turns left on to the pavement. I slam on the brakes. Again my rear wheel slides out and I hit the wet pavement. I quickly get up, twice is a pattern and within seconds of each other, then I realize I had reversed my bike brakes, switched for cross on the dirt. The switch means, I have to reverse my thinking every time I hit the brakes. A mile later, our local tour guide and Derek jump a curb. I miss gauge it and smack the rear tire into the curb. I pinch flat, slowly the air starts to leak out. With a flat, in a city where I have no connections and no cell phone, no money, just me and my tight skin suit and about 15 miles to get back. I decide the best course is to ride the flat tire home. I missed the qualification and do not get in to the main event, but I got home happily in one piece, minus a little skin. The memories of watching Derek jump rope and thigh master in a bike race, priceless! Derek jumping from his group to mine to help me — what can you say but “Thank you!” Derek told me later he thought about giving me his bike when I flatted. I’m glad he didn’t.
Later that night, in the hotel Derek pulled another great teammate and helped fix (I should say he did almost all of it) to my bike. Straightening out the flat spot on my wheel with a small screw driver and pliers that you would expect from a boyscout like Derek.
Saturday night second option to qualify, roller sprints in the bar, they said 6:00, well the crowd didn’t arrive until 8:00. At 8:30, I did the fastest 11.45 seconds of my life to get an entry into Sundays race. It was great having Paul, our Gates Carbon Rep., and my teammates hooting and hollering at me the whole way thru. The bar seen was wild and I enjoyed watching but knew the Single Speed partiers were way out of my party-going status, mine has little kids and birthday cakes involved. It was great to see so many people having a good time.
Sunday, the SSCXWC (SingleSpeedCycloCross self proclaimed World Championship), more water than I thought possible fell from the sky. The entire race course, 3″ to 6″ mud just about everywhere. I got a great start by interpreting the race promoters intentions, with a make shift run up the hill and then on to the course. Within minutes, there was 6 of us clustered together for the first half, then it broke into 3 of us on the front. Mid way thru the race, I passed the guys to take the lead and to say I’m here to win. I quickly get passed back, as I chased I noticed I no longer had any brakes in the drops. Next thing I know I’m flying off the course, because I can’t slow down enough. I loss contact with the lead two guys and struggled to be able to race without brakes for an entire lap, fortunately the race had very little elevation gain. Then I realize that my right top handlebar (front brake) still barely works. I speed back up and chase, I finished the race in third, about 10 seconds behind the two leaders. After the race, I was amazed how much mud covered us from head to toe. It was like we jumped into a mud bath. I saw my teammate, Ben with his hair and gates uniform and asked Paul (the Gates Rep.) who’s that? I couldn’t recognize my own teammate with the mud and hair due. After the race, in the beer garden, they crowned the male and female winners in gold speedos, as I stood there shivering with multiple layers of clothing on, looking at these skinny naked people, I wondered are all these Seattle people just used to the cold and wetness or do they have thicker skins? After the small ceremony, I asked Sal, the race promoter are you going to do the podium, for 2nd and third. He said “No, that the results were posted over there and they are just lines of paper and they don’t really matter.”
Biggest Seattle memory, it is great having great team mates, I enjoyed the time spent getting to know the other Gates team riders. I will never take a cross bike with reversed brakes on wet streets. I have dialed out my brake pads fully for cross, you never know if it will be wet. In Seattle, you go thru the entire brake pad in one race. Not cheap to race in Seattle. Hmm… disk brakes for cross? Lastly and most key “PBR” means Paps Blue Ribbon. I didn’t know that before Saturday, my team mates had to tell me, after they laughed when I asked what they were talking about. The only PBR beer I got in Seattle was in the eyes and a drop on the lips during the race, and both stung like a bitch. You should of seen the thousands of PBRs stacked in front of the 12 barriers that were placed close together. Then after each time thru. Less and less beer. Than no beer on the last couple laps.