Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, February 4, 2013

2012 Cougar Cup CX

What race is this you say?  Well, Denise and I decided that our Thanksgiving weeked would consist of us driving over to Pullman on Thanksgiving day and go to the Apple Cup on Friday....GO COUGS!!  On the Tuesday before we left I saw an email announcing a race in Pullman on Saturday.  I decided to load up my bike and if I felt like it I'd race.

Thanksgiving dinner in the RV lot was a blast and the game the next day was awesome....if you're a Coug that is?  It had been dry but late Friday night it began to pour.  The wind picked up and it lasted througout the night.  When we got up Saturday morning it was still drizzling but the wind had died down and it wasn't too cold.  We packed things up and drove the 1.5 miles to the venue.  Since they announced it late and it was a holiday weekend I knew the fields would be small.  If it was too small I was just going to get a couple of warmup laps then pack up and head home. 

The course was at the top of Observatory Hill and the view of campus and the surrounding Palouse was awesome.  The course looked mamath and had just about everything.  Part of the course was on an old equestrian track.  There was more climbin per lap than any race I'd done this year.  Throw in some mud, grass, gravel, pavement, barriers a tunnel and you had a pretty cool course.  After taking a couple of very confusing warm up laps (It was really hard to tell where the course went in several places)  I went up to check registration.   With 15 minutes until the start I decided I'd throw down the money and race.  I didn't want to wait and race in the 1/2 field at 2:30 so I opted for the open 40+ race at 12:15pm

It was a sanctioned race so officials were on hand.  we were let loose on paved section that was slightly downhill.  The course was entered by grabbing the brakes hard and negotiating a hard right turn that transitioned to an off camber, downhill grass section.  After a couple of turns we were on the horse track.  This was a really cool section.  About half way around the track there was a log obstacle that could be ridden.  I was right on the heals of the leader but had a bobble while trying to maintain momentum after getting over the log.  I lost a few seconds but was able to catch back on during the rest of the section on the track.    After making an almost full rotation of the track the course took a left hairpin to what I thought was one of the toughest sections.  It was fairly steep climb large loose gravel.  I really had to fight the bike the whole way up.  At the top we took a sharp right and flew back by the start/finish area (first lap was really a half lap) and then a hard left to a run up. 

I was right on the heals of the leader but when I set my bike down at the top of the run up I dropped my chain (more on that later).  It dropped below my chain keeper and it took about 5 to 10 seconds to get it back on.   There was still plenty of racing left so I was hoping I could gradually catch back on.  I got to the next short climb and noticed my chain was "jumping".  It wasn't skipping gears, it was like there was a stiff link.  It was more annoying than anything else. 

I took the muddy downhill section extra fast to try to make up some time.  I reached the paved parking lot and hit the gas.  Unfortunately the tape at the end of the lot had be broken and there was no one there to point the correct way to go.  I went straight and after a couple of seconds someone finally started yelling at me that I was off the course.  Shit!!  I quickly turned around and got back on track.  I made it the the next climb which was about 13% at one point.  It was a grind.  At the top I took a slight right turn that led to a tunnel.  I came out of the tunnel and as I wound my way through the course I managed to take another wrong turn.  It was totally confusing (there was someone there pointing you the correct way on the next lap).  I quickly turned around and could now see that Alan had about a 15 second gap on me.  Unless he had a major mechanical it was going to be hard to catch him.  I looked back and saw that no one was on my wheel so I just focused on running a clean race.  I was actually hard to stay focused while my chain was jumping but as soon as I realized it was not slowing me down I pressed on.

I rode the rest of the race error free but never made up any time on Alan.  I ended up finishing 2nd and had a blast racing that course.  I think I was the only racer from the West side there.  As a bonus the prizes were all Cougar related so no complaints here. 

When I got home I finally took a look at my bike.  I couldn't see anything wrong.  I finally decided to remove the chain and found that two of the links were totally tweaked.  That is what caused it to jump.  Into the garbage it went.

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