Sunday, April 13, 2008

Race Report: Pontiac Lake TT or Our Personal Hell of the North

In a fitting tribute to the famous Hell of the North road race taking place across the pond, Mother Nature saw fit to put her personal touch on the opening race of the 2008 Michigan mountain bike racing season. The first race of the year was a 19 mile time trial held as part of the Michigan USAC state championship series. Racers were prepared to face some muddy conditions based on the continual rain that fell the day before but they woke this morning to an inch of snow and temperatures hovering just above freezing. Additional snowfall during the early part of the race coated the trees and bushes, providing an almost surreal feeling while zipping through the woods and fields.

Arriving at the race I quickly registered and began my warm-up sitting on the trainer and tried to stay warm. I had prepared my Cannondale 1FG F29 especially for this race by putting on a derailleur hanger and running the bike as a 1x9. I knew the course and mud would not really allow much use of the big ring and I wouldn’t have to worry about shifting problems. Braking however was another matter.

We were mixed up in the starting order for day of registrants and I was lined up behind another racer in my class, one of the faster racers last year. I didn’t know who else was racing today since we started every 30 seconds and you didn’t know where anybody was on the course. Once the gun went off I tried to keep a steady pace since I figured it would be about 1:40 for a finishing time. The mud made some of the corners slick but the Michelin XC AT 29’er tires provided superb traction. Less than two miles in I caught the guy in my class and quickly passed him.

I continued to pass other riders that started ahead of me and was occasionally caught by others from behind. Half way through the first lap I was coming down a rough section just before a turn and as I grabbed the rear brake nothing happened except the lever went all the way to the bar. For the rest of the race I had to rely on the front brake only. I did take it easy coming into the corners after that so I had to push a little harder elsewhere. Besides, brakes only slow you down, right?

I ended up winning my class, a great way to start off the year. Maybe I should take the rear brake off for every race! Oh, and I caused the problem with the brake. In bleeding the brake last night I forgot to put the retaining screw back in and as a result actually lost a brake pad. You can bet I’ll be double checking that from now on.

Our new team kit got lots of compliments and it felt great to be standing on the top step of the podium at the first race of the year. On to Cohutta next week. From hypothermia to sunstroke.


SquidBuzz said...


You mentioned at Iceman that the Hammer popup was yours. Where/how did you get it? I bought one from REI but the canvas cover was damaged and I ended up returning it. But I might be able to get the frame at their scratch and dent sale, so getting the Hammer cover from some where would be cool if possible.

Thanks in advance.

Todd Strobl
Brookfield, WI

Steve Kinley said...

My son worked for Hammer and was able to get me one of their older covers since I was doing a lot of events for them and may do so again once my contract with Sobe runs out. They are not available for sale as far as I know.

SquidBuzz said...

Darn. Thanks for the info.