Monday, August 08, 2011
Pierre's Hole 50 - Single Speed
This weekend was my second time racing the Pierre's Hole 50 on my singlespeed. Last year went well with me finishing 4th in 5-1/2hrs. This year I was anxious to race the event and compare this year's fitness to last. Adding to my excitement was the chance to race my new Niner One9 that the Hub had set me up with. It's been a great bike all summer and has really improved my descending. I hoped this would help me take advantage of Pierre's 7500' of downhill.
As always the start was full gas in an effort to split the group before the single track downhill. I was pegged immediately, but was able to stay with the front group into the descent. After a few minutes of being outside my comfort zone I began to pick up some of the geared riders who were in front of me. As always, everyone was super polite and moved aside letting me pass. On the climb up the Targhee road I caught single speeder Dave and we rode together until the Bustle Creek descent where I was able to get a gap. At this point I was third on the road with Hamilton in second and "Salt Lake Dude on a Pink Bike" in the lead. (His name wasn't really important since none of us would see him the entire day, and he won by over 8 minutes.)
Thoughts of riding the entire Bustle Creek climb disappeared quickly and I was relegated to walking for a few minutes. Luckily Dave was walking as well and upon gaining the pavement I went hard to the top and got comfortably in 3rd. At this point I hadn't seen Hamilton from the start and thought he was out of reach. Through Rick's Basin I went as fast as possible, using the geared riders ahead of me as rabbits. Dave must have had a great descent of Mill Creek, because when I looked back on the Targhee road climb he was right there and starting to close. I thought I should try to drop him before the next descent, since it seemed clear he was much faster than me on the down.
Luckily I got a good gap on the road, stayed upright on the descent and went into the Bustle Creek climb alone. I tried to focus on just getting the cranks over the top but then I saw a glorious sight: Hamilton. And he was walking. My exuberance quickly faded as two seconds later, I was walking as well. After that section I caught Hamilton and we rode side by side up the double track and I joked that I promised I'd get off and walk if he did too. Thirty seconds later the terrain had us both walking and me envying Hamilton's 6 foot strides.
We came out on the Targhee road together and I started thinking about how I could win our little battle. I felt like Hamilton was stronger on the steeps and the thought of trying to attack on the steep dirt climb of Rick's Basin didn't seem like the best bet. So I began to launch a few attacks at Hamilton on the road. (Attack at this point in the race meant I rode about 2 mph faster for 30 seconds and then sat up) Each time Hamilton reeled me in until my last effort near the top of the climb got a gap of about 30 seconds.
Fortunately I was able to hold that gap and extend it through Rick's Basin and ended finishing a satisfying 2nd place. Hamilton came in a couple minutes behind me and we exchanged congratulations. It's always better to race hard against another strong competitor and it's even better when that guy is a friend.
Congrats to the organizers for a great race and thanks to all the volunteers and sponsors.