Singlespeed adventures

Rhonda 2017 race reports

Corn Cross

Singlespeed racing is always an adventure – epic courses with only one gear and disappointments when mechanicals affect the race. My season started with Corn Cross in Boring, Ore., a fast and hard race that includes dodging fallen corn husks (they hurt) through a maze, a steep, oh-my-god downhill and enough hard, bumpy turf to loosen fillings.

Corn Cross 2017

With a bit of a slow start trying to get into the pedal, I chased another rider for a bit, but over took her after the first lap or so. After that it was chasing down racers in the men’s field. At one point I grabbed hold of a metal barrier with the intent of swinging myself around the corner, but the barrier wasn’t secured to the ground and it toppled over barely missing the male rider next to me. “Sorry about that,” I blurted, while he was probably quite irritated with me.

The flyover on this is a huge wooden U-shaped monstrosity that is one-part scary and one-part fun. Each time I had to remind myself to breathe while sailing over it – never clipped in of course.

I took the win this day and enjoyed the fabulous prizes they always give at Corn Cross. Thank you City of Sandy. You all do a fabulous job.

Zaaldercross

This one will be short. Had a descent start, top 5, and about 1 minute into the race on the first uphill my chain drops. On a singlespeed! Game over. Fortunately I was able to get it back on, but that in itself told me it would likely happen again. SS chains aren’t supposed to come off and certainly you shouldn’t be able to put it back on if it’s correctly aligned and tight.

I chased the rest of the race. No pressure, just clean out the pipes. Tough parts to this course, but it also had some great flowing parts. There were a couple of corners I never figured out. One was where you came in at an angle for a 90 degree turn up a small hill. Soft sand usually put me in the bushes. Turns out it was faster to run it.

There was an uphill section that could easily be done with a geared bike, but not a SS, at least not for me. I did see a SS racer ahead of me who remounted and took the second half of it. Impressive.

Dropped the chain a second time on the same darn hill just after passing a racer. Got it back on again and was able to re-catch her after the sand pit. There were two back-to-back pits (volleyball sand) – one was rideable, the other not. I love sand!

Managed to catch and pass two or three competitors in poor air quality. The Gorge was on fire with the Eagle Creek burning and on this day and the smoke was particularly choking. Probably took a year or two off my life.

Battle at Barlow

Haven’t done this one in years, despite that fact that it is four miles from my house. It hasn’t been one of my favorite races before this day. We’d had several days of race and several dry days leading up to the race, so the ground was less bumpy then in the past. There have also been years when it was an absolute mud swamp and not even worth the trouble. Google pictures of a few years ago to see what I mean.

On September 24 the sun was out and the ground was tacky. Perfect conditions. Fast in parts and wicked hard in others. For the first time I ran up the steep ravine via the railroad ties that are lodged into the earth. I had discovered the right-side edge pre-riding it the night before, which allowed for not having to leap up each railroad tie, some of which came up mid-thigh on me!

That’s the spot where I took third on the first lap, passing others who chose to take the circuitous route up a path through the trees. I’ve done that before, but saw first-hand this time that it takes longer. I remounted at the top right away and muscled through to the single track.

I put some distance on me and #4 and worked to keep #2 in sight. There was never a chance I’d catch her, but I did manage to keep the time difference to about 10 seconds between me and Anna C. She’s in her 30s I think, so that felt good.

A podium finish helped erase last week’s chain episodes and my body felt good. Looking forward to doing a few Cross Crusade races this season.

Battle at Barlow 2017

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