Monday, May 3, 2010
Not only is Lost a show on TV, but it is also what happened to me at the Michaux Maximus Race this past weekend. I have never watched the Lost TV Series, so I really don’t know too much about the show; however, I do know how frustrating being lost can be and can empathize with other victims in the same situation. I was not lost because of another person’s mistake or error, but because of my own failure to accurately follow the course markings.
Up until the point where I got side tracked, the race was going pretty well. The 19-34 year old racers started first at the event and about a minute later or so, the group I was mixed in with containing the master and single speed racers went off. During the first 10 miles of racing, I was leading the single speed race and had worked my way up into the top 10 riders overall, catching many of the racers in the younger age group that started ahead of me. My good race beginning started to go wrong when I went over the bars while descending down a short steep section of single track because of a large stick getting stuck between my front wheel and fork. The crashed caused a good size abrasion on my inner thigh, tweaked my left should a bit and also broke my lockout lever off my front suspension fork. After the crash, I decided to take things a little more conservatively since I was leading my race and seemed to have a comfortable lead.
I went into check point one and then entered some more of the infamous Michuax Technical Rocky Single Track, which then lead to a fire road. During my descent to this fire road, I heard another single speed racer coming up behind me. I could tell it was a single speeder because I did not hear a chain slapping on the approaching rider. Before I exited the single track, I saw a course direction arrow pointing to the left. I then took the left onto the fire road and looked over my shoulder to see who had just caught me. Unbeknownst to me, while I was looking over my shoulder instead of the course ahead, the course almost immediately turn left off the fire road back onto a single track trail. The other racer also missed the turn because he was following me up the fire road.
I like to turn my speed up on fire road climbs, so with another racer catching me, I had no problem with hitting the turbo switch on the climb to gain some time over the other racer. To make matters worse, the fire road we were climbing actually came back onto the course, so we now had course marking to follow again. The course marking eventually lead to the finish line and, at that time, I knew something was wrong. After talking to the race organizers at the finishing area, the other single speed racer and I decided to head back down the fire road to where we though we took the wrong turn. We descend down the fire road climb and took a left onto another fire road that we assumed was from where we came. We followed it for a while and climbed up another ridge, which lead us back to checkpoint one. Knowing this was wrong we then descended back down to the original fire road and eventually found the turn we missed. Probably about 100 feet or so into this trail my lost single speed companion got a flat rear tire and told me to go ahead without him.
Since I lost about 30-40 minutes of time after trying to get back on course, I knew there was no shot of me having a good finish at this race. But, since I had paid $70 for registration and driven almost 3 hours to do this race, I figured that I would at least get a long, hard training effort out of my mistake. I rode to check point two and only saw few riders here and there, but started to catch riders pretty regularly after the checkpoint. Even though I was not in the game for the win, I was still having fun riding the sweetness of the Michaux Trail network.
By the time I had finished the race, I figured out the extra mileage of being lost added 7 miles onto the 40 mile race loop. Even with this additional mileage, I somehow still managed to finish in the top 7 single speed riders. I also learned a few things during my misguided ride, which made the race a good learning experience for me anyway. First, I learned it is more important to pay attention to the course a head of me rather than the riders coming up from behind. Secondly, I learned that my body does not like to use Perpetuem by Hammer Products during a race on hot days. It seemed like everytime I would take a swig of the stuff my stomach would knot up. I am not saying this will happen to everybody, but it is the experience that I had with using it. I also learned that Caffe Latex Tire Sealant works wonderfully. I tore my side wall on one of the many rocks at Michaux sometime during the race and Caffe Latex sealed up the hole enough to allow me to finish the race without any repair. Other tire sealants that I have used have not done this nearly as well for me as this one did.
Yeah, sure, it would have been nice if I would have stayed on course and remained competitive for a good finish, but at least I learned a few things from the race and had a good time riding on some incredible single track. As I believe there is with most things in life, there is always a positive experience to gain from every situation, even if it is a bad one. Happy Trails, Gerry