Racing in the dirt in December? Yep. Fort Rock has lots of rock, dirt, roots, and mud. Team NEMBA was out in full force. Gadway, Smith, DeVincent, and Orlowski all representing (by far the largest showing of any team). This was a mass start event with no branding of gender, ability, or equipment. People with 6″ travel bikes with body armor, single-speeds, even a guy on a CX bike. Oh yeah, this was my first Single-Speed race too.
The course was a 3.5 mile short course with a two hour time limit. So if you came in under the 2 hour timeframe, you got to go out for another chance at taking glory. Course starts with a slight downhill right-hander and then a short moderate climb. This would help to space things out and bring the more racer type dudes to the front before the first major bottle neck. 9:00 race just above freezing and plenty of water in the soil from lack of evaporation this time of year. Roots and rocks were slick, bridges were the same. Lots of rocks and rock features to add difficulty. For the gearless among us there would be many run-up’s.
At the start I was about 8 to 10 spots behind the eventual race winner “Andy Gould”. Going into the first bottleneck uphill I would seat myself behind another SS guy (Mark Tucker) for much of the first two laps. I would screw up, then he would screw up. At the end of the 2nd lap Teammate Carl Devincent checked in behind me. Figured he was gaining on me, you know having suspension and gears and all. He went out of site at one point passing Tucker who I had been following. This would change though as laps three and four I would settle in and just put power to pedal. I passed Tucker, who was starting to fade. I then reeled in and passed Carl. Then I decided to take a right to go over a bridge to nowhere. Carl says “Where you going?” Damn! wrong way. Back on Carl’s wheel, and time to have some fun. Full on sprint passing him on the gradual uphill on his right shoulder. Yelling at him “Ride Evil!” I had thoughts of clipping his bar like at the Horror in 2010. Not this time though. Lap 4 I found myself all alone, and technically may have been my smoothest lap. From that point on to the finish there would be nobody passing me.
Although there were no official categories I did place first in SS (note: Ryan Littlefield was geared today) and won a nice tune up from the folks at Exeter Cycles.
As for the single-speed thing. I will definately do it again. It’s hard as hell for sure. Hurts the hands, and joints. I ran 20psi front and rear which helped a bit in the rough. Bike performed flawlessly as always.