Hanging on for dear life!

We've officially (at least I have) entered that phase of Summer that seems to move at lightning speed.  June and July always seem to drag.  By the end of July we're desperate for school to start back up.  Then August hits and the sh!t hits the fan!

Saturday was my first ever mountain bike race.  The day before the race a friend asked if I wanted to go in on the 6 hour relay with him.  I thought, sure, what the hell!  It was fun, but I really have no business on a mountain bike, heh.  My teammate, JD, was a 68 year old guy who has been involved with the JDRF cycling team in the past.

I started off...dead last with the solo riders just waiting to inhale me like some chubby bug.  First lap was a disaster.  I had a couple of falls, including one big one as I crested a short/steep rise and caught my pedal on a high root.  This sent me shooting backwards...landed on my back and slid a ways, getting my bike tangled in a small tree (sorry, tree, that probably hurt you more than it hurt me).  I ended up with ground-in streaks of dirt that won't come out of my jersey for anything.  Looks like that jersey will be ideal to reserve for CX races this Fall.

I finished with some scrapes and bruises, but still mostly in one piece.  It was a kinda tough course with lots of LONG uphill climbs.  Not generally really steep, but my bike is lower-end with heavy wheels and the course had a fair amount of wet grass and mud that slowed me down even more.  I definitely got in a good workout, but the course got easier as the day wore on and the grass got tamped-down.

JD took leg 2, rode his 4 mile lap, then tagged me for leg 3.  Leg 3 went much better than leg 1, as I managed to stay upright the entire way, though I still had to pull off the single-track sections frequently to allow faster riders to pass.  I also had a couple spots of steep, loose stuff immediately following tight turns.  I never did manage to keep enough momentum to scale these without getting off the bike and running up.  That's fine, it's good training for cyclocross season.

JD had decided he was done after a single lap, but friends talked him into continuing.  He took lap 4 and ended up limping in with a broken chain (technically didn't finish, since he cut down a hill, rather than walking his bike the entire course) and decided he was officially done.

I rode 2 more laps with maybe a 45 minute break in-between.  I really hemmed-and-hawed about doing that 4th lap, but decided it was good practice.  I never really was out there racing, just getting more needed experience on a mtn. bike.  Our friendly local cycling photog., Jack, still managed to snap some decent (albeit comical...on my too-small-for-me bike) shots:
• lap 2?
• lap 2 or 3...yep, I got a gut
• lap 3? - serious oxygen deficiency after scaling massive, evil hill, then turning and going back down on the sandy side slope
• starting my last lap (I think), still grinning like a fool on my clown bike

DH and 3 other friends did the full 12 hour relay and WON their divison (35+ year old mixed team).  Next year I'd like to do either 2 or 4 person 6 hour race.  I'm thinking it will be a couple of years before I feel up to doing 12 hours--since the last few hours are in the dark with nothing lighting the trail but headlamps and bike lights.  Plus it's really late to have DS out.  When he's 13 staying out until after midnight won't be such a big deal.

The following day was a 60 mile JDRF training ride.  Oh, I was in some hurt for the first 20 miles or so of that ride, but felt pretty strong by the end.  It was a last good longish ride before my One Day Ride Across Michigan, which is just days away, now.  Today has been really busy with answering questions and getting the official ride maps online for other riders and their crews.  I was able to wear my new ODRAM jersey for the Saturday team ride, which was nice.  It's very comfy.

Speaking of gear, I need to update the status of that saddle I tested a few weeks ago.  It was good for a short ride, but on a longer ride I found it to not be as comfortable.  It has a couple of ridges that run down the length of the saddle and by the end of a 30 miler I was REALLY feeling those ridges digging into my butt sort of midway between my sit-bones and my butt crack.  I think it could be a good saddle for mountain biking or cyclocross, though, since my hinder isn't actually on the saddle nearly as much.  The suspension built into the saddle would be really great on rough singletrack and roots.  I'll be interested to see if Ergon does eventually come out with a road-specific version of the saddle and how it might differ.  With a few changes to the design it would be perfect.

In other gear news...yesterday we got a letter from Sallie Mae informing us that the final payment on my student loans is about to be a thing of the past.  Wow.  I joked to DH that with that extra money laying around we should pull the trigger on that Salsa El Mariachi mountain bike that I've had my eye on.  That's when he informed me that he'd already put in an order -- squee!!!  I guess in the last week or so he was down at our preferred bike shop and was able to get the order in with the big order the shop is putting in for demo/floor bikes.  Not sure when it will arrive, but I'm guessing sometime in the next month.  I'm pretty excited!  I can't wait to see how much more comfortable and stable I'll feel on a bike that doesn't have me so upright.  It's going to be interesting to see how the 29" wheels feel vs. the 26ers I've been rolling on, thus far.  I'm sure the handling will be different enough that I'm going to have to sort of re-learn a few things.  Now we need to see if we can get some lighter wheels for my existing bike so that DS has a shot at keeping up with us on the trails!

Just a few more weeks until we head to Tahoe for our big JDRF ride.  We have only one more training ride the weekend after ODRAM, when we'll leave our bikes with our head coach and they will then make the trek out to Tahoe.  I need to get cracking on my fundraising.  I am still >$2300 away from my goal of $4k.  If you can help me get there, I'd greatly appreciate it!


  1. Way to tough it out on your first mountain bike race! I raced that course last year without a pre-ride and the technical sections really came up on me! Especially some of those short, steep dips with tree roots. The climbs were lung-busters.

    Bummer about the saddle, I was hoping that would work for you.

  2. I think I may end up liking that saddle on a mtn. bike or my CX bike. Ergon did get pretty close to perfect with it. If they tweak just a few things (remove the ridges, narrow the nose) they could have the perfect road saddle (for me) right there!