Today was the Brighton Race. I have been wanting to race here for a while but every year there seems to be other things going on the same day as Brighton: weddings, baptisms, family picnics...more important stuff. I live right off the trail so this is where I have done 95% of my riding for the last 12 years. In my previous two single speed races I finished 2nd and 1st so I was very optimistic about today. The neighbors, which watch me with curiosity as I take off on rides in sub-Artic temperatures, decided to come watch since the trail head is just a couple minutes from our street. Today was perfect weather; sunny and cool. Everything was looking up.
We didn't go to church this morning so I had 5 hrs to get my bike ready. All I had to do is change my rear gear. I had 12 years to figure out which gear to use so I knew I got it right. My front tire was a little low on air. I decided to change the tube just in case this slow leak got worse. My rear wheel had come loose at the previous race. I noticed my Salsa skewers were smooth where they clamp the frame. I swapped them out with Shimano skewers that aren't smooth so the wheel wouldn't budge. I also changed my pedals. I really like Bebop pedals but Shimano pedals hold cleats much more secure so I could stand up and pedal as hard as I could without worrying about my shoe releasing. I am not athletic but I am prepared. Everything was looking up.
Only six people showed up for the Sport Single Speed class. I was talking to the other single speeders at the starting line and this young guy, I didn't recognize, said his times are normally in the middle of the Expert Single Speeders. This could spell trouble since my times always would put me in the back of the Expert racers. I formulated a plan, a brilliant plan. The course takes off on the normal part of the trail but where it crosses Bishop road, the race course makes a hard right hand turn so you race down the road a 1/4 mile instead of going straight across the road to get back on the trail. I decided to get the hole shot so Ricky Racer would be behind me. I would head towards the normal trail across the road, let Ricky pass me, and send him careening down the wrong trail while I turned right on the race course down Bishop road. This plan would only work if he didn't bother to look at the course ahead of time. This isn't cheating because part of racing is knowing what you are doing. It worked perfect. The course marshals shouted at him to turn around. I could hear him swearing in the distance. I entered the trail where the race organizers intended, looked behind me, and Ricky was no where in sight. I know the trail well and figured if I could make it to the single track before Ricky I might be able to hold him off. Everything was looking up.
Then everything fell apart. When I changed the tube I put 60 psi in the tire to seat the bead. I forgot to deflate it to 42 psi. I have never made a mistake like this. I was busy talking to people and just forgot. My front wheel slide out just as I got on the single track and I hit a tree so hard I broke my helmet. Two people passed me. I did an inventory of body parts, saw I was basically OK, and took off after them, slid out 100 yards later and clocked another tree. This time Rick Racer past me.
Then I heard my brake shoe rubbing against my tire. When I change gears I need to readjust my brakes since the wheel moves back or forth in the dropouts depending on the size gear that is installed. I forgot to tighten the left brake shoe. I never make mistakes like this. I wanted to turn is a very good time so I used my light camelbak that doesn't have room for tools. I very rarely needed tools on this trail so I thought it was a safe calculated risk. Without tools I couldn't tighten the brake shoe. It rubbed my tire for the entire race. It wore the left hand side of my tire down to the threads and it felt like I was riding through mud the entire time. And my rear brakes were almost useless. All this within 5 minutes of the start.
I past a few racers and finished 3rd out of six. Ricky Racer was much faster than me so I couldn't have caught him even if I wasn't an idiot but I wanted to turn in a good time even if the best I could have done was second. A miserable race and it was because of stupid mistakes, not my lack of power. What a pisser.