I don't think I've been off a bike for a solid six weeks in many, many years. Since getting back, I've been spending my mornings logging in base miles on the road bike. Prior to this weekend, I hadn't ridden my mountain bike since April.
No better way to get back into the swing of things then a six-hour singlespeed escapade!
I mounted some fresh rubber, filled my water bottles and off I went. This was the first Heartland race at Shawnee Mission Park and the trails delivered. Very fast and flowy, with enough rocky sections to make things interesting.
Saturday was hot and sticky. I was looking forward to it. I knew I was not in shape for this kind of event but was counting on my secret weapon to give me an advantage, provided I could turn over consistent laps. The hotter it is the better I seem to perform, relative to others. The reason: I don't cramp. In 26 my years of existence I have never had a cramp.
I had a good start, there was a long grass section leading into the singletrack. By the time we hit the trail everyone had figured out where they needed to be. I traded laps with several singlespeeders of ill repute, Skip from Lincoln and Team Seagal from Saint Louis. The STL crew rolled in deep, nice guys too.
My first five laps felt good. After that, my lack of fitness began to show—I could maintain a consistent pace, but couldn't attack or power up the short climbs. I took a long pit stop to relax after my sixth lap and felt haggard for the last two laps. My hands took a beating from my rigid setup; towards the end I had to brake thru the rough stuff.
I came in from my eighth lap and called it a day. Considering my current level of fitness, I was more than content with a 3rd place finish in Men's 20-29 .
After the race I was looking forward to hanging out with my singlespeed compatriots around the beer cooler, but it was not to be.
"There can't be good living where there is not good drinking."
One thing that makes a Heartland race a Heartland race was absent this weekend.
Apparently you can have alcohol in parks in Johnson County.
Things I learned this weekend:
- Maybe a suspension fork is not such a bad idea.
- Hutchinson 29er Pythons are great race tires.
- The key to comfort on a hardtail during a six-hour race is a Ti seatpost combined with a women's saddle—WTB DEVA—my ass has never known such decadence.