So to rewind a couple of weeks, let's get back to Sunday Muddy Sunday in Maine.
Following that Saturday's freezing cold slip-slop fest, there was a lot of work to do in the way of bike maintenance and laundry. My teammates Justin Lindine and Emily Curry and I set up a sort of assembly line in the hotel room (Justin did most of the work, he's like that) and soaked and then re-soaked all of our gear, stuffed shoes with newspaper, etc. Sunday morning was spent finding a laundromat and re-cabling our non-shifting bikes. This was not really so unpleasant because the sun had come out and graced us with a beautiful, New England fall day, the kind they make postcards out of.
We rolled up to the course a nice leisurely couple of hours early, speculating optimistically that the sun would have dried out the course some, and besides, they can't really be using the same track as yesterday, right? Right?! Wrong.
As soon as we saw a mud-drenched Roger Aspholm come through for his bell lap (way off the front, nice one Rog!) we knew we were in for another hard day. Only given that it had stopped raining and the sun was out, the mud was no longer soupy, but of a chunky, peanut-butter consistency that sticks to everything and adds 10 lbs to your bike and about 2 lbs to each shoe. The proverbial long day loomed, but at least it was warm and sunny.
The long and the short of it for me was a bad start, then a bad crash that left me tangled up with another rider on the ground in 6 inches of mud, still clipped into my pedals. By the time I got up and moving again (this was 2 minutes into the race) I was the last man on the course and about 30 yards--the length of the run/ride up--behind the next rider in front of me. Yes I wanted to quit, but I had been pretty determined to finish both races this weekend because I haven't finished two races in a weekend in many weeks, so I slogged on, passed a lot of people, and much to my surprise worked my way up into the top 15 after a couple of laps. I was finally having a good ride after weeks of crap legs and bad luck! Then my seatpost came loose.
At first the bold slipped and the saddle just tilted back at a 45 degree angle, which sucked but was bearable. After a lap like that and with 2&1/2 laps to go in the race, the bolt loosened almost completely and I was left with a saddle that had about 3 inches of travel, fore and aft, and almost as much side-to-side wiggle. For whatever reason I was determined to finish my reasonably good ride, so I dealt with it and pressed on, hollering at everyone I knew in the pit that I needed a bike (since I only have one at the moment) but of course nothing was available. I thought about getting my pedals fitted to a neutral bike but it seemed like I would lose more time than if I just kept riding, so I just kept riding. Then I got a flat.
Fortunately the flat came about 1/2 a lap to go and the mud was so thick that I was actually able to ride it a good portion of the time, though it did give Phil Wong the opportunity he needed to get away from me before the finish. Through a combination of running and riding on the rim I managed to hold off the next couple of guys behind me for 16th place, but a much more interesting 16th place then the previous day's.
And Justin got 2nd, missing the win by a wheel or so, but that's old news.
3 months ago