IT WAS KNOWN for a week in advance that Sunday was going to be a wet race. Whilst I was registering myself on line last Monday, a regulatory weather check on the BOM website forecasted that both Saturday & Sunday was going to be wet. Anyway, for reason of optimism, I decided to run 310 dry racers on my Zaskar for Sunday, thinking that my bike handling skills would make up for the tire's lack of grip in the wet conditions. Had I set the bike up with Hutchinson Mosquitoes wet racers as per the year before, I'm pretty sure that I would have written today's blog with a lot more positive tone than now.
SO LAP 1, instead of the usual start dead last at the back of the pack and work my way through the group, I've decided on a reasonable start today and work myself into the race. I was in cruise mode chatting with Damien, both of us sitting in the mid pack somewhere. Damien's finally back on saddle after disappearing off the radar for over a month, and it was good to catch up and chat. Although the track was damp, the 310 tires were actually working reasonably well, and I didn't have too many issues until I hit the first mud patch. OH MY GOD. It was like watching butter sliding over a hot pan. How I didn't fall off there and then, only heaven knows. Well, at least that woke me up and shut me up, no more chatting with Damien, it was time to get serious, if I was going to try stay ahead of Damien, I'd better cover some distance on the fire roads before we both get to the single track section near the Dog Kennels, which is always wet and dicey, even during summer.
EVERYTHING WAS GOING OK, going fast where I could and taking extra care on the wet areas, I've built up a nice 3 min gap over Damien by the time I exited the Dog Kennels, which wasn't as bad as I had imagined. On the climb up to the single track, the chain exploded. BUGGER! So turn the bike upside down and getting into the mechanic mode, I quickly checked the bike for the damage. For a fleeting second I though my race was done, as the chain was wrapped so tightly around the frame and middle ring - it snapped as result after a major case of chain suck. After few minutes of cursing and fumbling, I managed to free the chain and re-joined the broken link with the handy little SRAM Power Link that race organiser wisely issued to everyone. By then Damien's already long gone and I've got a long way to go and catch him and make up for the lost time.
THAT CHAIN, now caked solidly in mud, was griding away the middle ring horribly. It wasn't long before I had to put the middle ring out of action as some of the teeth was pretty badly bent out of shape when the chain blew up. So I was forced to mash it out in the big ring for entire Lap 2. It won't surprise me if Lap 2 will be my fastest lap of the race as I had no options but to crank hard over everything. Caught up and flew past Damien, I was getting used to the slippery track but I had a niggling feeling that I won't be able to keep this up for long, and sure enough, I was right. Half way through Lap 2, the heaven opened up. Not quite bucketing but enough to make sure that the greasy sub soil would be dragged on to the surface after a knobby tire have tore through the saturated top soil.
LAP 3 WAS HORRIBLE. Never before have I gone around Lysterfield Lake so slowly and yet at the same time, holding on for my dear life. With the ground now nicely churned up by tires full of knobs, I was ricocheting through the single track like a pack of loose Skittles down a Safeway isle, out of control, and sliding wildly whenever the contour changes. Over some parts of the track, it was like riding on a bar of soap. How I escaped today without a single crash is beyond me. At one stage going down a relatively shallow & straight section of single track, I was understeering AND oversteering at the same time just trying to keep the bike on a straight line! Fishtailing wildly at 40km/h in a single track isn't cool. And because I cannot maintain momentum, I'm forced down to use the granny gear wherever there was any hills, which is the last thing you want when your chain's already on it's last legs, so at the end of the lap 3, seeing Paul who's already decided to pack it in for the day (for similar reasons), I also made the decision to end the senseless destruction on my bike and potentially myself, and call it a day.
So the damage bill at the end of the day are:
- worn out brake pads, front and back.
- a mangled chain
- bent middle chain ring
- blown rear hub seal
- sticking freewheel
- probably need a new set of brake and gear cables
Looks like I'll be going to Kat's shop, Croydon Cycle Works this weekend shopping for spares.
This will be my last race at Chase The Sun Series, as I'm away at Mt Hotham next round to indulge my other passion, snowboarding. Hopefully by the time next Ananconda event come around, the 12 Hours at Reedsdale, I'll be less flabby and a bit fitter. Need to do more training with Kat and James. No more excuses not training for the next event as spring will be coming around soon.