Half Fast Velo

Presented by Ninkasi Brewing

Kruger's-The Singlespeed Swirl

I wish I could say that I felt super or that I had slept great, or ate heartily the night before, or even that the dawn had broken clear and bright. Instead, it was kind of the opposite. I was dragging from racing hard out at Corn Cx the day before, getting home later than anticipated, doing the usual gamut of chores, barely snagging a semblance of dinner, and then tossing and turning all night due to a variety of reasons. Not to mention it was 23 degrees at my house!!  Cripes!

6 a.m. had me loaded up, and rolling out with tent and rack with just enough time to get there, set those up, register and maybe get a pre-ride in before my first race? 

The drive in was a little dicey on the Fremont bridge and headed out to Sauvie’s with frozen fog. Oh yeah. This was gonna be a cold one. 

At the registration table I confused the poor woman to death by trying to register for not one, but TWO singlespeed races AND Master B’s. YES, I do already have all of the numbers I need. Trust me, I have actually done this before. It’s going to be ok.  I’m pretty sure.

After getting the tent and rack offloaded and basically set up (ish), I get ready to go check out the course (somewhat).  I did maybe a half of a lap.  I noted that I wanted to go high left at the right hand corner off the farm road after the barrier section.  Hang onto that tidbit, it comes into play again.

Whelp, race time. My hands and toes are already frozen.  Here we go.  Women’s SS first.  Smallish herd of us standing around clutching our torsos.  Beginner men behind us looking like they wanted to appear fast and confident.  Hope nobody notices the upside down numbers. 

And we’re off.  First lap I was in third place and actually noted out loud how incredibly bumpy the ground was (frozen).  We got through the barrier section, up the farm road, and like an idiot, I followed Jericho’s line into the corner (she went right).  Cursing myself as to WHY I did that we bobbled and bungled our way through that mess. At some point she got caught up in the muck and I made my way through it. I was in second for the time being but I knew she was strong and fast and I would have to work hard to keep it that way.  Someone yells “wipe your nose! You’ll go faster!”  This was such a theme for the day.  I think I got dehydrated from my nose running all day. 

Most of that race was a blur.  I remember feeling really good and feeling like I was getting some speed up.  I suddenly realized I was catching Mari (second place) and that with each lap I would sometimes get real close and then she would pull away again as I would get hung up in traffic.  The beginner men provided me with great internal dialogue entertainment.  They would come flying by me on the gravel road where they had the ability to go faster because they had more gears and I was spun out.  Then we would hit the mud/grass/technical stuff and they would stall out.  Or, as the race rolled on and stuff started to thaw and get slippery, and their confidence got stronger, they would hit the mud too fast and totally slide out, leaving me a nice clear path.  Welcome to cx boys.  Nothing ever stays the same!

It was a fun race and I left nothing out there.  Mari raced hard knowing I was hot on her tail and I raced hard trying to reel her in.    Race 1 done!

Damn my toes are cold!

Time to line up for race 2.

Found the SS guys already lined up at the front. Shoved in with them.  I planted myself right next to Spears.  I told him about the corner.  Had told Seth too.  Couldn’t catch Ian’s eye to tell him.  Oh well, I tried.  And we’re off again.  They didn’t drop me RIGHT away.  At least there was that.

So tricky course officials, made a change to the course between the two races.  After the fabled corner (high left) we had hooked a quick left and then another left.  Now we did the left but at the top went right.  I get to the top and nearly cannot stay on course due to the fact that I’ve been “trained” to go left.  BRAIN NOT WORKING!  I got over it, but it was funny how it took me a couple of laps to break the 5 lap habit I had from the first race.

I can’t remember if it was the first lap, or the second, but going over those tall and 6, did I mention there were 6! barriers, the crowds under the tents start hollering at me because they realize I’m back out there again.  They are talking to me, I’m talking to them, I’m carrying my bike, I have frozen feet and can’t feel my toes….I’m sure you can only imagine.  Yup, I tripped. Took a total face plant right over the third barrier.  Popped right back up, laughing.  They asked if I was ok, saw I was laughing, noted I wasn’t bleeding, “Nah, just a flesh wound!” and off I go again.  Must pick feet up more better. 

The rest of the race I was just enjoying hammering away and being part of the mix.  Towards the end I spotted Spears up ahead.  I thought if I had another lap to go I could catch him because I was really catching him on the uphills and then he would drop me on the downhill bits.  But alas, we got the flag and I finished just 20 feet behind him. 

I rolled back to the tent to rest up for one race and get ready for Master B’s. 

After a few minutes back at the tent, I discover that the front tire on my SS is completely flat. How did I manage to finish two back to back races and not have a flat until I got back to the tent??  Wow.  Lucky.  But now I need to change that out because I really want to ride the SS again for the next race. 

I think I actually got muddier changing out the tire than racing. And cold.  Good grief it was cold!!

Now that I was all cooled down and had lots of lactic acid built up, it was time to go do the last race of the day.  Master B’s.  Most everyone was in this race.  This was going be fun.  I would just be fodder for everyone to lap and heckle.  Which was ok by me.  Just remember to pick your feet up!

Lined up. Shivering like mad.  And we’re off.  That first half lap hurt.  But I did my best to keep Seth in sight. And he would yell back encouragement.  Finally things seemed to warm up and I managed to catch up to him. Like a little duckling I stuck to his wheel as best as I could and just followed his line.  Huffy, Paul, Mack, I remember them all passing me.  After a couple laps Seth and I were navigating the really slippery hillside and we both ended up shooting off the side of the course in opposite directions. He started walking. I refused to give in.  I got back on and started pedaling.  I yelled back to encourage but he seemed to be done.  Another lap in, I saw him behind me and yelled back for him to “get his butt up here”, at which point I was admonished by someone on the sidelines saying “he’ll never catch up to you, just keep going”, to which I replied “yes, but I can still heckle him”. 

I was having fun and in my groove.  Picking my toes up and actually starting to catch some guys again and pass them.  Some of them were really sweet and giving me serious props for being out there and especially for being on a SS. 

I can’t say I was sorry when they waved the flag though.  Three races was 26+ miles of that loop. And I was kind of getting dizzy. 

I don’t know. Some days, the conditions are just right, the stars align, and in spite of everything else, you have a damn good day.  Often the damn good days are just because you’re hanging with good people, doing something you love. 

It’s been a fun season with ya’ll and I can’t wait to do more!  Thanks for everything team HFV!


-Carly Heron