Last weekend was the first of two Snake Creek Gap TT races. Being that it is the second weekend of the month, it did not leave much down time for the new year. I didn’t go too crazy at the end of the year, but I tried to keep as active as I could. I knew this race was just around the corner. The first week of the year didn’t work out too good for riding and I didn’t get any miles in before this race. I did have some activity, but no riding out doors.
As the weekend drew closer, the extended forecast kept getting worse. The high temp if the day kept going down and the chance of snow kept increasing. There was even some thoughts about not heading down as it didn’t seem like it would be worth it. Since part of the group already left Thursday, there was no way I was going to back out even if I had to head down by myself. Thankfully that didn’t happen and Friday afternoon we headed south. The chance for bad weather Friday night was pretty high. There was some areas not too far away already getting snow. They also posted that there would be a decision late Friday about if the race will be shortened or cancelled. We were already on the road and I figured they would not cancel it unless it was really bad. Worse case we would have a real good time Friday night and find someplace farther north to ride on Saturday.
The company that was going to do the shuttle was not going to run to the parking lot for the 34/50 mile start. So, the race was shortened for everyone to being just 17 miles. Now that may sound like a pretty short race, but anyone who has done this before knows that this is the hardest 17 miles of the race and seems a lot more than just 17 miles. Then if you add in the snow that was coming and the temps reaching a high of 28 degrees, it could be a very tough “short” race.
I was torn on how to feel about hearing the race was shortened. It was not really what I came down here for, but with the conditions it would make a hard race even harder. I was also a little worried about how strong I would be for the full 50. Also, with it being this early in the year I as really thinking this more like a training race than something that I could actually place well at. So, with all that could go wrong for the weekend a snowy 17 mile ride was not too bad.
The first climb out of the parking lot hurt me more than I thought it would. I am not sure if it was the fact that half way up the hill I could no longer feel my fingers to know if I was pulling the brakes or not, much less holding on to the handle bar. I felt like I kept moving pretty well even with it hurting. I was going faster than some and slower than others. It was cold and the snow made some sections tricky. Once I hit the top and started flowing, the feeling in my hands came back. I felt like I was a lot farther in on mileage than I thought I should be. This made me think that I probably was riding better than previous times there. I did have one issue. The one water bottle I had was banging around and making a lot of noise. I thought my water bottle cage was loose, but it was just that the ice block of a bottle was too much weight and it was bouncing around everywhere. The other bottle that I had was an insulated bottle and after the second drink, it was frozen too much for me to get a drink.
I rolled up to the water spot quicker than I expected. I ended up staying here longer than I normally would have wanted to, but it just kind of happened. I was going to just leave the water bottle there and thought the guy would take it back to the start. Then he said he was just going to throw it away. But, I really like the cap that was on that bottle and then dug in the trash to retrieve the cap. When I took it off, I noticed that there was some water still in there. I dumped out everything I could and put it back on the bike. I took the top off of my other bottle to get a drink. I had a slushy for the rest of the day, but at least I could take the top off and get something to drink.
I kept moving for the next section and doing what I could. I had a few sections that I thought I was going down, but managed to keep myself up right. The extra effort I was putting in to keep traction or to stay upright was starting to add up. I am sure the lack of fluids or food played a big part in this. There were a couple of spots that I had to push and tried to take a drink during some of those sections. I did finally eat a gel at some point, but it was pretty late in the ride. I was very happy with how I was climbing the tricky sections, but it was not necessarily what I would call fast. I did destroy any of my previous times climbing the wall. So, I guess I had that going for me.
I admit that I didn’t ride as much of the last rock section as I normally would have. After so many near misses I was second guessing myself too much. Some of the snow had melted and it was hard to tell what exactly was there. The sun was also to my back and put a shadow on the section of trail I was trying to see. With the race being cut short, my finish time really didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was that I did finish and I didn’t get hurt too bad to ride the next race.
The radio tower was there sooner than I expected, but I was really happy to know that I was just about done. The down hill from there had a few sections you really had to watch but was not near as bad as the road section. The changing between the pavement and the wet snow spots had me thinking that a high speed crash would be very easy to do. I took it way easier than I probably needed to but oh well.
I ended up finishing in 2:40 and in 108th place overall out of 232 riders. It should not really bother me but it does. The fastest time was 1:54. I don’t think I am anywhere near that time but still think I should be faster. Granted I went in to this thinking more like a group ride than a race and I also made a few more bad decisions the night before. The time makes no difference for me in the race final, well unless the next race has the same issues and it cut short. If that is the case I will just go harder then.
Even with knowing all the reasons that I didn’t go faster, it still bothers me. It is also compounded by the fact that in 2012 I did this race in a lot worse condition (myself not the trail) and I was on a rigid SS and it only took me 7 minutes longer. I am either getting slower the more I work out or I just need to sell the new bike and start riding my SS again. I have said several times that my best/fastest races are on a SS.
Yea, I know I have some issues. That does not mean that it is easy to change how I think.