Monday, September 12, 2011

A Recap: The Dakota Five-O

A week ago today, the 11th Annual Dakota Five-O took place.  Shit-tons of blogs have given their recaps of what happened, who won (coincidentally if your last name wasn't Eppen, you probably didn't win) with photos and the like.  Hell, I had a race summary going, but I wasn't feeling it AT ALL.  I mean really, who in their right mind wants to read the whining ramblings of a mid-pack 40 year old? "First I rode over a rock, then my t'aint hurt, then I had to eat something, whaa-fuckin'-whaa."  No one, that's who.  So, I changed it up and here is my report for the rapid-fire, short attention span world we live in.

I had high (or higher) expectations for this year's edition.  I had kinda trained and after last year's debacle, I knew it wouldn't be worse.  And, it was my best year ever.  Took almost an hour off of my time from two years ago (the last good race I had) but still left plenty of room for improvement.  I raced my Stumpy 29'er hardtail, which I don't really know if it was a benefit.  I mean, I had a GREAT first half of the race, which is mostly up and had a shittier second half of the race, which was more down.  I could attribute it to needing more longer rides on that bike, or it could be that I am flippin' old and a hardtail beats the shit out of me.

Some details of the day. 

My tenderized drumstick
  • It was down right COLD to start the day, with frost on the ground in areas of the race course, which was fine with me.  Being a bit, ahem, hirsute, I welcome the cooler weather.  
  • The course was in primo shape, although by the time I came through areas like Dakota Ridge, it was getting a bit chewed up from a couple hundred people rolling through before me.  
  • I did have a bit of an accident in Krangle Connection which was just a lapse of concentration on my part, especially considering all the work the Ridge Riders did on the trail.  Zigged when I should have zagged and I fell and went boom.  A bit disconcerting when you fall down, the rider behind you is shouting "man down, man down" and when you get up and pull your bike off the trail, like 10 guys go zooming past.  A bit disconcerting because at with over 600 entrants out there you'd think that'd be the norm and yet, there were times when I couldn't see anyone ahead of me or behind me.  
  • Have I ever mentioned that I love the new location of the Bacon Station?  For those that don't know, the BS is an "aid" station where you can get bacon and some PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon).  It used to be in a location where you had to climb immediately afterwards, so drinking some PBR made for a tough climb.  Now it is at the beginning of Dakota Ridge and you go down (at least for a bit) so slamming some PBR and eating a slice of salty pork goodness is, well, a beautiful thing...which I did.  Did it cost me some time?  Sure.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.
  •  Did I talk about nipples?  No?  Well, I have an issue with my nipples and chaffing on my jersey, so I covered them with New Skin.  Did it help?  Nope.  I'm sitting here with chaffed nipples right now.  Why the fuck do men have them?  Don't need 'em at all.
  • My wife and son are incredible support people.  Meeting me exactly where I wanted, when I wanted.  The best.
  • As I mentioned, I had my best year ever.  5:37, which is almost an hour faster than I've ever done it before.  But hell, almost all the Ramblers had a personal best day.  The cool weather, the trail conditions and a summer of kickin' the shit out of each other equalled a great ride for almost everyone!
  • Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Perry Jewett and the Ridge Riders (the group that put on the race).  This race is always really well run, with Perry learning from each year and making changes for the better for the following season.  I kinda expected a bit of chaos at the end with having well over 600 riders, but there wasn't any.  It was GREAT!  Super awesome food, great beer, music, and times getting put up quickly.  Kudos the the Ridge Riders for such a great event!           
Well, there you go.  I was fairly beat after the ride and was glad it was over.  And now I am planning for next year.  I've still got a little time to play with, although taking yet another hour off might be a bit much.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Dakota Five-O and Stubbornness

Here we are at the end of the summer (school started Monday around here) with the Dakota Five-O looming just a few days away, a capper on a summer of riding your ass off.
There might just be some climbing in this race...

I pre-rode the course on Sunday, which is the first time in 4 years I've ever pre-anything the Five-O.  Having grown up in Spearfish, I have ridden all those trails and didn't think I needed to or more importantly, wanted to.  All that changed this year and I not only felt like I should pre-ride, I wanted to flog my sorry ass on this course.  Not only would pre-riding it give me an idea of how next Sunday will go, but I also wanted to see how I would fare riding a hardtail on the course.  The climbs would be good, but would I be able to keep the pace up on the descents?  Would the pros outweigh the cons?

Well, I decidedly cannot descend the same on my Stumpy 29'er HT as I can on my full-squish 5" travel Moots Cinco.  But, I think that the effort I expend on the climbs is no where near lost on my descents, so I am coming out ahead.  I am planning for my best Five-O yet, which isn't saying a lot as my 3 other efforts have been, well, let's just say I finished.  And NO mechanical issues this year.

Which leads me into stubbornness.  All cyclists, well all cyclists that tinker with their bikes, have this phenomenal trait.  If we want something to work, we are going to go to great lengths to make it work.  Wanna use Shimano shifters with Sram derailleurs?  There are adapters to make this work.  A 5" travel fork on a bike designed for 3"?  You can do it, you bike will steer like a wheelbarrow, but you can and you will.   Case in point, tires for my 29'er.  When Knobby Nick told me he had some Schwalbe Racing Ralphs for sale, I jumped on it.  A fast rolling 2.4" tire is just what I needed to take the edge off for the race.  I slapped 'em on the Stumpy and immediately noticed there was about a pubic hair's clearance between the rear tire and the front derailleur.  And it all should have ended right there.  But NO, I had to get a different front derailleur, return it and get yet another different front derailleur which has about a 7 pube clearance, futz with it adjusting it and readjusting and readjusting it to get the right clearance between the granny gear and the shift mechanism. Yep that should do it I thought and I was victorious.  Don't take no for an answer.

And it did until about 4 miles into our 43 mile ride Sunday I broke a spoke and every time I shifted into the granny ring the tire would drag on the inner plates of the front derailleur.  When it first happened I thought about the ways I could fix the problem so I could run the tires.  Really?  What a stupid ass I am.  Finally my logical part of my brain whipped the emotional part of my brain's ass on the Ballpark climb, which is about 30 miles into the ride and the longest portion of granny gear riding, at least for my sorry ass.  Having that drag on each pedal stroke gave me seizure inducing flashbacks to last year's Five-O debacle with the dragging lock ring.  There was NO CHANCE IN HELL that I was going to endure that shit again.  So the RR is coming off the back of the bike and the old tire is going on.  Even if I break another spoke, it won't be rubbing on the derailleur.

Of course, maybe I should leave it on there.  If it is on there I have an excuse...reason...ahem, um, well you know, in case I have a bad race.