This weekend was the next round of the Kentucky Point Series at Cherokee Park. It was also the first race of the 6hr series. I had really wanted to do this race ever since it was put on the schedule, but some things happened and the calendar was filled with some other obligations, so I did not make the trip to Versailles to ride my SS for as close to 6 hours as I could have. But, I do hope to make it to another one.
With Saturday’s schedule filled I was left with the only option of racing the Cherokee park race. I have never been there and was not sure what to expect. The trail had a shorter loop, so I did not have a lot of high hopes as to what was actually there. So, as the evening was running late on Saturday night, I was not too worried about it. A storm was blowing in and raining hard, so I was not sure what the conditions of the trail would be in. The wife was having a good time at the wedding, so I was not pushing her to go home early. The week leading up to this was filled with a lot of late nights and not near enough sleep, so what can one more night hurt.
I woke up very tired and if I did not have a passenger, I might not have gotten out of bed to go race. The drive was not that far, but I still didn’t want to drive it. I loaded up anyway, got everything else ready and off I was. Soon enough we were heading down the interstate to the land of unknown trails. The park was super easy to find and plenty busy. I was shocked to see how many people were using this park to ride, run, walk dogs or all kinds of other things. It is great to see that many people keeping active.
Reluctantly I signed up and then got ready. I knew there would be a few fast guys there and in my current state, I didn’t have high hopes. The Breck’s duo that usually kicks my arse decided to enter their SS’s in the Cat 1 class. That did not hurt my feelings at all, but they are great guys and don’t mind at all getting beat by them. I kind of had some small hope that I could at least keep up with them for a longer amount of the race since they both entered the 6 hour race the day before. I still didn’t expect to beat them only to hang on longer.
|Photo credit: Sherri Thompson|
I did get a little spin in and see a small section of the trail. There were some great sections with berms and rollers. I could get used to that! I made my way to the start feeling better than I thought I would. I finally remembered to turn on the Garmin since it takes a little bit to start. I was not too far in the front of the pack because they have been starting the group in different waves. Then I realized that all of Cat 2 and SS were starting at the same time. I guess I should have noticed that when I looked at the flier. I watched Cat 1 start and go around the field. As we moved toward the line I had an oh shit moment as I realized my gloves were still in my jersey pocket. Dammit!! I quickly grabbed them and started to put them on, but to no avail the whistle blew and the race was off, with me trying to put my gloves on while riding.
I finished the grass section way in the back of the pack. I did pass a couple of people on the road section but there was quite a bottle neck going in to the woods. I just tried to stay calm and ride with the guy right in front of me. One guy wrecked and we got around but still back farther than I hoped. I just rode what I could and passed riders as it seemed needed. I know I passed at least one ss rider, but other than that I am not sure. I did see one in front of me on the switch back section and thought I would be able to catch him, but that never happened.
On the second lap I found myself stalled out on a hill when I hit a root and fell to the right. It was a good drop off on the ride what was bad enough, but the bigger problem was that my back wheel was half way past a tree. So, with all of my weight and the bike falling to the right, the back wheel did it’s best to try and hold me up, but I was just too much for it. When I got back up to the trail and on my bike, I noticed the back wheel had one heck of a wobble. The tire was rubbing on the frame pretty bad. I rode it for a little bit trying to figure out what to do or see if it got any better. It did not. I could have just finished the race with the wheel the way it was, but I didn’t want to damage the tire or the frame in the process. I hopped off and leaned the bike over a little and stood on the skewer to try and bend the wheel back in to shape some.
I got back on the bike, but it was still rubbing on the frame. I only went a little farther down the trail before I figured I needed to try again since I was not packing a spoke wrench (well, maybe I actually did have one and didn’t know it). This time I stood on it a little harder than the last time. I saw the wheel fold in half and figured I just really screwed it up. I immediately let up on the pressure expecting to see spokes fly or at the very least a flat tire, but I saw nothing. Humm…. did that actually work? I spun the wheel and it was no longer rubbing on the frame. Sweet!! Not sure how that worked out for the best, but I will take it. I jumped back on and could go a lot harder. It was time to see if I could catch any riders.
I didn’t ride bad the last lap. I could tell I was more tired and worn out, but I did catch a few riders and passed them. Too bad none of them were on a SS. I ended up 6th in class. There was a good turnout of SS’ers at this race especially since two of the regulars raced the Cat 1. I am very happy with how well I rode considering how tired I was, but I can’t help wondering where I could have finished if I had started a little closer to the front. I know there was a lot of ground lost on the first lap. My main goal is to ride as strong as I can and keep getting better. Some day I would love to have to line up with the Cat 1 guys again, but not sure I can get that fast again. It had been probably 20 years (and 30+ lbs) since I have had a Cat 1 license and at that time it was called the Expert class. One just never knows how it will work out. I keep getting faster every year, maybe I will make a big leap in performance at some point. If I could just climb at the speed I think I should be able to climb, I would be a lot faster than I am now.
I would like to recommend anyone that has a chance to ride the Cherokee Park trails, make sure and take the opportunity. The trail was full of good things. Rocks, roots, jumps, berms, creek crossings and anything else you could want in the mtb trail. It may not be the longest trail out there, but I sure wish it was in my town. I would also like to thank the Bicycle Sport/Rooibee Red Tea Off Road racing team for putting on such a great race that ran very smooth!!
Hopefully I can get a ride in or two this week. Next weekend is the DINO race at North Vernon. Maybe I will be able to put a little better effort in there on the Niner. She will have disc brakes by then. Even with some concerns about the brakes on the Misfit, overall they did a great job at the race and only squealed a few times.The brakes on the Niner should be even better, so I sure hope to see an improvement in my riding. Hope to see you there.