This past weekend was the Bonelli Triple Crown race. Sagebrush kicked off the season a couple weeks ago but Bonelli was the first of the bigger races to come this year.
Last week was really tough. Lots of work stress, trying to fit in training, and everything else, has made race preparation even tougher. The crap weather means the bikes are trashed after every ride too! So much to do and so little time!
Friday night I was finishing up the prep work on the bikes and it was very stressful and didn't quite go as planned. I will leave out most of the details, but when I torqued Allison's crank bolt with my torque wrench I felt a small pop. At first I thought it was my wrench, then I realized that the wrench wasn't engaging the bolt anymore. I shined a light inside the crank and could see that the bolt head had broken. Not good. It appeared to be holding together though and I figured I would worry about extracting it after the races. Interesting to note that I have spent a full year riding and wrenching on Sworks bikes with Sworks cranks. This is my first problem with them (new cranks, new bolt). I still love them and stand by my word that nothing beats Specialized. Shit happens, I know Specialized will stand behind the product and Rock N' Road supports us well!
On Saturday morning we got all packed up and headed north. We stopped in at Rock N' Road Cyclery to pick up a couple banners and grab last minute items (key tire purchase, read on!)
When we arrived at the venue I did the setup stuff and Allison ran over to go check in. Setup takes a little while but it is really nice having a professional looking pit area. :)
Allison wanted to get out on course before the start of the Junior race so we suited up to head out. Allison jumped on her bike and started to ride off when what was left of the crank bolt gave way and her left crank arm free rotated. No bueno.
I quickly developed a plan and sprung into action.
1st plan: Pull cranks from my bike, switch the spider to Allison's gearing, install the cranks from my 2009 Sworks HT in the 2010 Epic and get Allison rolling, worry about my bike some other time.
1st plan failed 20 minutes or so later, after a bunch of wrench turning (much thanks to the Bear Valley Bikes dudes for all their assistance), when I discovered that 2009 Sworks cranks are not compatible with 2010 frames. SHIT! I had a great deal of comfort last year knowing that my bike could donate parts to Allison's in a pinch. That isn't the case anymore and it worries me for when we travel farther and spend more money to get to races.
At this point I was flustered and was starting to panic.
2nd plan: The second plan was really my last ditch effort to salvage the weekend. I put my cranks with Allison's gearing onto my Sworks HT and adjusted the saddle position to meet approximately Allison's dimensions. Allison was much less than pleased, but took off onto the course to try to figure out how to ride MY bike in her first BIG Pro race of the year. She loves her Sworks Epic and has no desire to ride a 26" HT let alone race one. Things were pretty dire at this point. I was starting to think that I wasn't going to be able to race on Sunday.
Scott Tedro happened to be walking by and I mentioned to him the problem. He pointed me to his rig and said to get some help there. Turns out that they couldn't help me so despite having a Specialized backed team on the premises I was still up a creek.
So I am standing by the pile of tools and parts in our pit area when Juan (Specilized Rep and Demo Truck Dude) rolls up on his 2010 Sworks 29er and says, "Hey man, what do you need?"
I looked at him, chuckled a little thinking that it would be a ridiculous request that is denied and said, "A drive side Sworks crank arm with 26-39 XX rings." He points down and goes, "Take this one." I almost fell over! We were back on track thanks to Juan!!!!!!!!!
Lots more wrenching later, all was back to normal. I had to put my fit back on my bike, steal Juan's cranks, install them on Allison's bike, and take a really deep breath, then an even bigger sigh of relief! Allison took a little spin with me on my course so she could start her warmup and I could preview what was to come in my race on Sunday. I quickly discovered that Allison's gearing wasn't going to work for me and while she finished her warmup I set forth tearing my bike apart and re-installing my XX spider and rings on my crank then reassembling my bike.
Too much stress and wrenching!!!!!
Allison finished her warmup and then her race was off! I think being the racer is easier than being in my shoes. As Allison's support/coach/husband/etc. I was so twisted up inside! I wasn't eating or hydrating properly for sure. She was out there doing what she does, giving it her all and for the first time ever she was right there with the big girls! Allison was hanging on in 4th by herself chasing a pack of three (1-3 were Lene, Emily, Pua, and 5th was Heather Irmiger a little ways back). The race was very exciting and I loved being able to see more of the course from the feed zone! On the last lap I rode over to cheer her on and she powered through to take 4th! So amazing!
After the race I went for a ride on my course with Nick. I quickly determined that I needed to swap to a faster rear tire (remember key tire purchase from Rock N' Road?). Nick is a great guy and we had a good lap of our course.
To celebrate the day we went out to dinner at BJ's with Steph and Dan (Allison had quite the fan base at the race!) and Nick.
We went back to our hotel, checked in and I set about switching my rear tire to a Specialized Renegade Control (Sworks casing is too thin for me, I need the extra durability!). Only with Specialized tires would I have been able to put a brand new tire on and get it to seal up in the parking lot of a hotel with a foot pump. There really isn't another tire manufacturer that you can do this with. (I have used Kenda, Maxxis, Continental, Bontrager, etc) I love Specialized stuff!!!
Our hotel (Extended Stay) was the worst experience I have ever had at a hotel. A couple of girls checked in around 11pm and were making all kinds of noise, yelling and screaming and carrying on. All I wanted to do was sleep. The hotel staff did nothing to enforce any sort of civil behavior. I was very disappointed. Then our AC in our room didn't work and our room got really hot! Then the AC came back on and it got really cold. Needless to say I didn't sleep much.
Sunday my race started really early (with a time change, REALLY early). We got to the venue an hour or so before my race and I rolled out to go warm up. Rode with some of the fast ladies of the Cougar Class as they checked out the new course. I was really glad that I got out on course as I discovered that the bridges were wet and VERY slippery. I showed how not to stay rubber side down and managed to bash my left knee on the 2nd bridge in the process. Come to think of it I should have informed Scott that they need to install chicken wire on the bridges for traction when they are wet! Before I knew it I had to go line up and then we were off.
The lead pack had a solid bunch of riders in it and a few went off the front. Knowing the length of the race I wanted to try and play it safe and conserve. One interesting note from the first lap of the race was some lady walking two dogs on course at the bottom of a super fast descent. Scared the hell out of me. I was shouting at her in this photo...
During the course of the race I was making passes but didn't know how many were from my class. It is very hard to determine position. I had guessed I was in fourth or so, would be super cool to have the announcer give position or something. When I was by myself I was trying to push hard to catch the next rider but I was also using other riders for draft where it made sense. On lap three I tried to turn up the pace. Every time I felt like letting up I thought of Allison's performance the day before and kept on the gas.
Something on my bike started rattling (later found out that my rear brake caliper was loose, must have forgotten to tighten it in all the confusion/wrenching) and I just kept asking my body and bike to hold it together and finish strong. On the last lap it happened. My legs started pinging on the steady climb near the end of the lap. The guy behind me saw me letting up and said, "Five more minutes!"
I bombed the descent and got as aero as I could on the flats while still breathing. I must have let off a bit too much though and on the short steep climb into the trees Alexis passed me. I was pissed that I knew for the first time during the race that I had definitely lost a spot, yet at the same time I knew that if Alexis was with me we were up towards the front of the group. I rallied and tried to give him a run for his money but my legs were cramping.
Right at the line someone yelled like a sprint was going down and I tried to sprint... NOTHING. I put all I had into the pedals and watched two guys go by right at the line. I was sure I had blown it. Allison said I came in 4th and congratulated me. I was pleased and didn't find out I had scored a 3rd till I was on the massage table! So cool to score a top 3 spot!!!!
I had some time to relax and eat and then it was time for Allison to race Short Track. She once again impressed me with her desire and despite some horrible yo-yo-ing she finished with the lead pack. Doing that well is no joke against World Cup racers!
After short track I suited back up and pre-rode the SuperD with Allison. It was pretty cool because we wound up riding with Chloe, Pua, and Kelly. After riding I went and picked a spot to spectate from and watched all the racers suffering. Unfortunately my enthusiastic cheering for Allison may have distracted her. She started to make a wrong turn on course and had to change directions scrubbing speed. I was stoked on her finish though as she still got fourth with a mistake!
So it was a long and exhausting weekend for The Mann Show. We had some great racing and lots of fun! See you all at the next one.