Just some thoughts and experiences from a mountain bike endurance racer who likes to ride and race his single speed mountain bike a long long way on remote single track in the mountains and desert.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3rd place in the singlespeed category at the 2012 Fat Tire 40 mountain bike race at McDowell Park in AZ

Finished 3rd in the singlespeed category at the Swiss American Bikes 2012 Fat Tire 40 held at McDowell Park in Arizona.  http://swissamericanracing.com/fat-tire-40  Saturday there was a time trial on the sport and tech loop to determine your starting position in the main race which was on Sunday.  This turned out to be key!  The main race was approximately 40 miles and the route was all the perimeter trails in the park plus some additional trails on the competitive tracks.  Route was: Sport>Tech>Long>Service Road>Pemberton>Scenic Loop>Pemberton>Coachwhip>Dixie Mine>Pemberton>Service Road>Long Loop>Sport Loop backwards>Finish.

I chose to run 32x18 gearing.  I may have preferred a 17 in hind sight but with the 24 hours in the old pueblo effort two weeks ago that may have been too much.  I ran Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires front and rear which hooked up great.

Friday in Dolores I loaded up the mountain bike and the family into the truck during a cold and windy snow storm and Headed down to Arizona.  The weather was looking great in AZ for the race.  Maybe a little hot for racing but after wearing snow boots while leaving that didn’t sound bad at all.  When we arrived in AZ the sun was out and I went for a 30 minute spin just to see how the legs felt.  I hadn’t ridden the mountain bike for the last two weeks since the 24hitop race.  I did get some exercise during that time (one road bike ride, a hockey game, etc.) but not much since it was snowy and I was trying to recover still.

Saturday I met up with Art Macfarland for a pre-ride going backwards on the sport loop.  It’s always a little weird riding a primarily one direction trail backwards so I had to check it out since it wasn’t normally allowed.  Around noon Nick Gould showed up.  He came down from snowy Colorado as well for the race.  After he pre-rode the time trial course we went out and picked up some power food before the race start.  Taco’s!!! (Vitamin M…)   

My time trial started at 3:02 and 12 minutes into it I rode up to a helicopter on the trail evacuating an injured racer off the course and I was diverted back to the start.  Haven’t had that every happen during a race, I guess the racer ended up okay.  They restarted the time trail an hour later and I ended up with the 11th fastest time of the day out of all racers geared and singlespeed so I would end up with a desirable position at the starting line the following day.

On Sunday everyone lined up at 8am in their prearranged position based on the time trail finish.  There was a ton of racers.  If you were up front at the start things went smoothly but if you were back in the pack there were definitely some bottlenecks which created traffic jams.

After the first mile I stayed in the same position through the competitive loops but when we got to the Pemberton trail I was spun out on the singlespeed and began getting passed by a few geared riders.  I knew that Mike Melley was in front of me but I didn’t know where Hunter was.  They both had a faster time in the time trial so it was possible he was in front of me as well.  I felt pretty good and didn’t get passed by very many geared racers on the flatter Pemberton trail.  When we got back on the Long loop I was able to gain some of those spots back.  When I came back though the pit before doing the sport loop backwards I saw my wife and daughter cheering me on which is always pretty cool.  After crossing the finish line they had wet towels, snacks, drinks and beer waiting.  I ended up about 5 minutes faster than my previous years time but that wasn’t enough to get the win again.  I was about nine minutes behind Hunter and 6 minutes behind Mike.  Nice job, you guys crushed it!

Great event the promoters really did an awesome job.  This was my second year and it was noticeably larger than the first.  I think it will just keep growing.