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January 23, 2005

Photographs and Memories

I made it to Bush Lake today for the first part of the 3rd Annual Ice Crit Championship Race Series. It was really amazing. I did take pictures but didnít race. I was about 10 minutes too late to race because I had to assemble my bike and had trouble with the brakes and the spindle on the rear wheel being too short. But I fixed those problems and threw my camera bag over my shoulder and rode down to the lake to see the action. I think I got some great photos and I hope they turn out, since Iím still trying to figure out this 35mm camera.
After one race ended and before the A-Class race began I had time to try out the course myself. It was very cool. They had cleared a path about 5 feet wide zigzagging over part of the lake, then up a steep hill through the woods, then leveling off on top of the hill and then back down a steep, winding trail back to the lake. My bike and new studded tires did great on the ice, but Iím still having mechanical problems with the gears and shifting. Iíll have to work those out before next weekend.
Yes, next weekend! I am going to actually race next weekend, since I missed this one. I found out that anyone can race in any of the classes and itís not necessary to be at all three. In the A-Class race, however, each racer is awarded points during each race and the winner of the overall cash prizes are those with the most points, so to be in the running for one of those prizes or to win the race, the racer would need all the points they can get.
So Iím planning on going to Crystal Lake in Burnsville next weekend on January 30th to actually race. Today gave me a preview of what to expect. It also showed me my bike wasnít ready. And it gave me to confidence I needed to do this. There were a lot of people there just to have fun. All these people seemed to be really enjoying the winter and were all very enthused. I am still kind of amazed at this event. Because of my willingness to go to this event even if I didnít have my wheels done actually turned out to be a blessing. I got the gift of another week to prepare myself.
The race itself is 40 minutes long for the B-Class. The A-Class was 60 minutes. One of the guys there said he lost track of how many loops he did because he had oxygen deprivation from breathing so hard. That was a tough hill to climb in the snow. I found out many of the riders were running up that steep hill carrying their bikes. Haha. I didnít know that was allowed. Because of my gear problems, I could only make it about halfway up before I had to jump off and run up the hill. I donít know what the course will be like next week, but I bet theyíll make it similar to this one. The next two races in the series will be at Crystal Lake so the racers going for the big bucks will be familiar with the course for the last race. I bet the speeds will go up for that one.
This morning I was going back and forth between optimism and acceptance of whatever happened. I was ok with not racing, but excited that I might still make it. But I was still finishing my tires this morning after I woke up and then threw them in my car with the bike and headed for the race. I didnít even have a chance to test them. Thatís why I had mechanical problems. In the military we used to always say the four Pís whenever getting ready for a mission: Proper Prior Planning and Preparation. If I had prepared better, I would have known what the problems were and would have taken care of them. Thatís why having a good attitude and going there anyway was such a great gift. Now I know I have another week and Iíll be ready.
Here are some highlights of the day:
1. I met a guy from the St. Paul Bike racing club, who normally does only road races, but borrowed a set of studded tires from a friend to try this race. He was going for the money race and looked like a serious cyclist. He was pretty impressed with my spiked tires. And he said heíll be one of the instructors in the Beginning Road Racing class Iím signed up for. That was cool. All of that happened right after I finished putting my bike together.
2. I met another guy who was late, but his bike was in one piece and functioning properly and he made the race. He wonít be in next weekís race because once was enough for him.
3. I took some photos. Itís 35mm film so now I have to use up this roll quickly so I can see how they turned out.
4. I got to ride the course 3 times and know what kind of course it is and what to expect.
5. I got stuck on the way out of the park, since they didnít plow the parking lot or entrance to this park from the snow we just had. About halfway up the hill from the parking lot down by the lake, I got stuck. A couple of guys behind me helped push me out. Once I reached the main road I pulled over to the side, and ran back to help them. The one guy said, ďIím so happy you came back to return the favor!Ē He didnít think I was coming back, but then I told him I had to drive out onto the main road and park out there where I wouldnít get stuck again. He was happy I came back though, and with two of us pushing he made it out too.
6. Several people looked at my homemade studded tires and told me Iím going to get a flat tire. When I asked them why they thought that, they didnít have an explanation, just that it looked like it wouldnít work too well. I think they will work great, and I had really good traction on the ice. And besides, I used Duct Tape! Thatíll fix anything right?
7. We got some amazed looks from cross-country skiers and people walking their dogs.

I noticed that both of my hands are stiff and sore tonight as Iím typing It must be from screwing all of those 300 screws in to make my studded-tires. Thatís a good workout!

It was a good experience today! And a blessing that I didn't expect.

Posted by carl1236 at January 23, 2005 11:59 PM | Winter-Biking


What a great day you had ! I was sitting on the edge of my seat, awaiting the news of yet another successful day of adventure for you. Congratulations too, on your "wicked" attempt to run the course aside from the race. You met some new friends, gained some confidence, and have the blisters to prove your hard work ! A red letter day for you ! Happily......janni

Posted by: janni at January 24, 2005 5:18 PM

Thank you for your comments again Janni. :-) I'm happy too that I tried it.

Posted by: John at January 25, 2005 5:43 PM