Monday, September 06, 2010

The Big Valley

Some readers may have read the blog title and thought of the TV show. I guess that would probably mean you are getting up there in years. But this Big Valley is the race held every year south of Cleveland in the Cuyahoga National Recreation Area at Camp Manatoc. The race weekend is the only time of the year that the trails are open to riding at the Boy Scout Camp.

I raced last year and enjoyed it a lot and since the weather looked like it would cooperate, decided to do it again. This is a course that would not be very enjoyable when wet. Plus it is less than a half hour from my parent's house so I get to visit them and they can see me race, or at least see me go by.

The preride on Saturday was better than last year since the course was dry. Last year it had rained overnight and the wet and slippery conditions had me nervous. Even on race day last year there was some moisture. This year it was dry and even a little dusty.

It was strange to not start a race until 1:00 in the afternoon. But the early chilly temps gave way to the 70's by race time. I line up with 18 others in the 50+ group, not really knowing who was the race favorite although a couple of the guys looked familiar from last year.

As we rounded the first corner after the opening straight I was in 7th but moved up into 4th or 5th after a short while and then on one of the longer gravel climbs early on moved into 3rd. Soon it was hard to tell who was in my class because we had caught up to so many that had started in front of us. I kept plugging away and passing people where I could without getting passed.

At some point 4th place passed me in some traffic but I was stronger on the hills but kept right behind him, planning on passing later in the race when we got to some more hills. We cam around for our final lap and was right on his wheel and starting a climb when I felt and heard a strange sound in my rear wheel. I couldn't figure out what it was when I looked down so I stopped and got off the bike.

I discovered that at the bottom of the rough and bumpy downhill right before the climb, my seat bag had come unzipped and the contents had come out. My spare inner tube had wrapped itself around my axle between the frame and the spokes. It took me a while to work it free and riders continued to pass me up. I was fortunate that the tube hadn't done any damage to the bike or me.

Once the tube was free I remounted and charged up the hill and just tried to catch whomever I could see. I think with a mile to go I passed another rider in my class but it was hard to tell. I ended up 4th out of 19, with the tube mishap probably costing me at least one place. But it was still a fun race and one I would recommend to everyone.

Next up is the MICA short track race at LOHS this Wednesday. I have done some preliminary marking of the course with paint. Hopefully everything goes well and we get decent turnout.

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