Singlespeed-A-Palooza is a singlespeed mtn bike race down in NY put on by Darkhorse Cycles. About a 2.5 drive from Boston. We got down in time for a pre-ride the night before. Stewart State Forest houses the nicest trails I have ever ridden in my life. They remind me so much of Skyline in Napa Valley. Only nicer. They are just so much fun. Buffed super twisty with some technical bits. Drop ins etc. Nothing scary at all just fast and fun. The area is really funny. Darkhorse cycles reminds me of West Hill up in Putney. In a barn/house super cool people. How many race promoters have beer for you at registration? Ok I know one or two dudes but other than Colin/Thom? Yeah that is what I thought
They also allowed people to camp out in the yard next to the shop for the race. And had a fire that night for people to hang out and drink beers. We went to dinner at a restaurant across the street from the shop called the Cauldron. I kept expecting Dennis Hopper to walk in and demand a Pabst Blue Ribbon. A bunch of the NECX went down for the race. Team Awesome was in full force and it was awesome to hang out with them. We also bumped into Doug Jenne the guy who rode to the Ronde from ct. As in rode his singlespeed to the Ronde, raced the Ronde and rode home. Such a cool guy. I was exchanging texts with Todd P and Kerry all night just getting stoked to see them and race the next day.
It really is worth a trip just to ride the sweet trails get a nice dinner etc. That alone would have been worth the trip. We went to bed watching Resident Evil. Perfect movie for the night before a 27 mile ss mtn bike race!
I stressed out all week about what gear to pick etc. In the end I had the "perfect" gear aka what I had. But in all seriousness 32 x 18 was perfect for me. David Wilcox is once again a hero for not only getting my bike ready so fast (less than 24 hrs) but doing it so PRO. My bike worked flawlessly. Dropped the chain twice at the end cause I was bonked out of my head and riding like a bull in a china shop but it was no big deal. Its a singlespeed race. You just get off and put it back on and keep pedaling
I went down with Matt Aumiller and Leah. Such a great crew. I love hanging out with those two. I missed my start for the second mtn bike race in a row. I say missed as its just way more casual than cx. People mill about and then some one says go. I was talking with Ryan White and Bob Morgan at the back of the NJ wave when I hear an air horn go off. It really was no big deal as we had two miles of fireroad ahead of us before the holeshot. I openly admitted I was not going to pedal 150 rpm for 2 miles for a holeshot. Either way Ryan and I moved through a ton of riders. We got to the singletrack top half or so. It was hard to tell who was in your category and it really didn't matter to be honest.
When I say singletrack it was just that one track about a wheels width. Super fast no brakes style. First descent some dude crashed and took out about ten guys. I just squeezed by the wreck and kept going. I had a good first lap which was the opposite of Hopbrook where I crashed about 20 times on the first lap. Second lap my back was crushed. It hurt sooo bad. Obviously you have one gear. You have to use a lot of core etc to keep going. There was about 3-5 runnups/walkups. I named them after cx runnups. Noho, Lowell, NBX, Sterling...it became a bit of a mantra. Early into the second lap Ryan caught me. He must have gotten caught in that crash early on. We chatted for a bit and then he took off like he had a jet pack on. I couldn't believe how fast he rode away from me. He ended up 9th
Todd P caught me at about the half way point of the second lap. Again we just chit chatted etc and had a great time carving the singletrack etc. I dropped my chain at one point and he got away from me. I closed down the gap and we rode fast together. I don't have that same mindset (aka Killer Instinct) as I do in cx. I really don't have any "I must beat x dude" at this point. Maybe when I get better at this but really I can only go the speed I can go. I am loving it but haven't figured out how to race it. And I was bonking pretty bad. I guess Todd was as well and he was trying to hide it by joking etc. But it was a race so I turned on my tactical part of my brain and got a plan. I knew we had a pretty long fireroad section right before the final singletrack into the finish chute. I knew that who ever led on that singletrack would beat the other racer. There was only one place to pass on that section and it would have been tough physically and mentally at the point.
So when we popped out on the gravel road I hopped on one of the local Darkhorse cycles riders wheels and rode tempo up the road. I peeked under my arm when we got to the top and we had popped Todd P off. I followed the Darkhorse guy the whole way in. Just talking about how amazing the trails were and the beer and hotdogs that were waiting for us at the finish line! I came in 26 and Todd came in 27.
We all hung out at the end. It was like Ice weasels. Only warm! One big keg party. People hanging out and smiling. I am sooo hooked. Wish I reg'd for the Darkhorse 40.
Leah had a rough race. 2 flats, a bunch of co2 etc. But she is such a badass. She finished strong and as always was smiling. It helps that they had beer stations ON THE COURSE! And that the trails were 100 times better than anything we have up here. It was so fun road tripping with Leah and Matt. They are awesome. They keep me from totally freaking out. And I am learning so much about mtn biking from them. Can't wait for the next one!