Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Pitiful and the Pinnacle

The Pinnacle is one of the finer mountain bike races in New England. So fine I've done it every year since starting in 09'.  

This year was just like last year.  Perfect weather.. and again, Fathers Day.  It was also like last year in that the 3 hour drive to Newport left plenty of time to reflect on daddyhood.  That kind of thinking goes in two directions: 

Utter joy & self loathing.

Ava and I have been riding a local trail pretty often in the evenings.  It's a short flattish trail not easily seen from the road right in our neighborhood.  At the end of the trail a wide open grassy field that leads to a big pond. 

The trail has a few log crossings of different sizes.  She hasn't mastered the 6-18" logs - but has figured out how to stand up on the pedals and ride out a 4" one.  She has also gained confidence in handling a couple of downhill / uphill sections.  Makes papa proud.

It's obvious that she is enjoying the discovery aspect of riding off the beaten path as well,  so I have been thinking of taking her to another trail network a mile from the house.  Fathers day was perfect for such an adventure.  But it's the Pinnacle!!

So off to NH, taking my time getting ridiculously great gas mileage partly just because, and partly as it'd be tragic to wreck driving to a race you just "had to go to" on Fathers day.

See where this is going??

My head just wasn't in it.   

On arrival - the usual.  Check in, get plate, check tire pressure, make sure fluid are in me, on the course and on the bike. 

OK then, time to line up.  There's the start.  Damn these bitches are fast.

And that's how it went. 

Lap one I hung on to the main group for the first mile and a half and they slowly pulled away.  A couple riders behind also slowly drifted behind.  OK then, that's good I suppose.  At the top and into the downhill my groove just wasn't there.  Usually this is where I can focus, let loose and rip.

Not today - mustn't "die doing what he loved" today.

The roots were punishing, my hands were going numb and I had zero groove.  Before long - down the plummet into a wide fast arc through the lap point.  Passing spectators along the way I threw my arms up victory style - eliciting a response from a guy I know from back in high school.  He yelled "C'mon Alby!!  - Take it seriously man!!"

That pretty much sealed it.  Not even a little serious today.

The downhill on lap 2 saw attempts at focusing through the forest of doom.  That'd be the pine section with tight turns and roots to trip you up.  You know how when your truly focused you can pick clean efficient lines??  I  almost got there on lap 2 - but it was forced focus.  Like silicon enhanced focus.

Lap 3 - the uphill was starting to kill.  But the downhill was much improved.  I started to remember that I like riding fast. I was also figuring out where to carry speed from experience.

Lap 4 - the uphill was a freaking death march.  I did start to catch up with Noah Tautfest at the bottom - but he put in a great effort and widened the gap to beyond sight.  In the past, I'd ride at a nice even level from the start and possibly pick up the pace along the way.  No chance of this in Elite.  These guys go hard from start to finish.

Coming down the last downhill I was riding fairly clean - but not as focused as lap 3.  After the crazy great mega berm section I caught Noah.  He was riding rather slow.  Not knowing who he was at the moment, I was thinking he might not be so technical so I asked for the pass and he obliged.

Then, oddly enough - he clung to my wheel as I navigated the bottom half of the downhill.  WTF??! 
I yelled back - "sorry - I thought you were a roadie or something" and he responded "I hit a tree and was picking myself back up when you came along"

Oh. Sorry about that.

As we neared the flat section just before the plummet Noah lit it up and passed.  Alright, fair enough. Surely he'll slow a bit before the plummet??

Nope.  He absolutely FLEW off it - likely traveling in excess of 20mph  before you get to the good part.

I'm thinking he isn't a father yet.


  1. that "not quite feeling it" was exactly why I decided to not go. I was having fun with the fam camping so why blow it with a mediocre race (me, not the course)?

    1. Mmm. Shoulda listened to my innerstink.

  2. I opted for family time on Father's Day. By 1pm I was shagged from 4 hours of yard/tree work and my wife and kids were a couple hours into extended naps. I cracked a beer and thought "Damn, I wish I was racing today."
    Guess the grass wasn't greener on either side.

  3. I have those thoughts before every race. Especially if I'm driving there alone.