Monday, 27 April 2015

Hotcup Race #1 - Third place

Result: Third place

Bike: Trek Superfly FS 9.9 SL, Fast Trak S-works/Rengade S-works 2.0 - 1.6bar

So this was the first race of the Danish Hotcup. There are seven races all in all. Most on weekends but some on weekdays. The weekend races, like this one, are 2 hours plus the lap completed. There was a bit of rain during the night and morning leading up to the race. However the terrain was mostly dry. I chose to ride the full suspension bike with the narrow S-works tires as I was expecting a slightly bumpy but quick race. Preperation during the week was good. Everything felt 100% going into the race.

HotCup #17

Race story:
The start at the race went well and just a few minutes into the race I found myself in the lead group with four (!) other rider's from my club (Jerry, Stefan Larsson, Nico and Björn) and two Danish riders. The pace, set by Björn at the front, was brutal. I just hung on for dear life, mostly at the back of this group. The only rider in this group who was in my category (M40) was Stefan Larsson, the other riders were all younger.
The terrain was fast and furious with some gravel roads, some quick single track but also mixed in with some virgin tracks which were slow and slightly tricky. The relative lack of grip of the S-works tires compared to wider Schwalbe (Rocket Ron / Racing Ralph 2.25) was noticable. I had a couple of hairy moments on the first lap when the pace was particularly furious.
Our lead group started splitting up at slightly over an hour into the race with one of the Danish guys going off in front. Still the rest of the group, with six riders, continued to cooperate with Björn letting the rest of us come up to lead for a while. Then Nico and Björn went off ahead and left us. At about 1h40m I started feeling rather tired and dropped off at the back of the group. No other bikers caught up from behind so I was on my own. With Stefan Larsson competing in the same category as me going ahead this means I was second in M40 at this point.
At around 1h50m into the race I noticed that the back of the bike started behaving slugishly in the corners. I suspected a puncture or some sort of leak (perhaps a 'burp'?). After just a few minutes I was sure that something was wrong with the rear tire. Sometimes in the past, in this situation with a slightly deflated tire, I have tried to continue but I always have to stop in the end anyway to fill up with air. So this time I stopped almost directly, took out my CO2 canister, and as quickly as I could gave the rear tire a boost of air, hoping that the puncture fluid in the tire would seal whatever leak there was (or if it was just a 'burp' then the tire would hopefully hold air). Checking Strava later shows that this stop cost me less than a minute of time. However I was passed by quite a few riders while I was inflating the tires and I was unsure of how many of them were back markers and and how many were actual riders on the same lap as I.
So back on the bike and full speed ahead again. I was rather tired and this point. However I feel I managed to finish the race at a reasonable pace, still riding alone. The only problem towards the end was that there were a lot of back markers that needed to be passed in some thight single track conditions.
After finishing the race a quick check showed that I had come in third place. So one M40 rider had passed me while I had my tire problems. However, the quick inflation using the C02 also saved me third place as the fourth place guy only came in 14 seconds behind me.
I'm very happy with the race and especially with being able to hang with the quick guys for 75% of the race. Riders like Nico and Björn have previously always disappeared at the start of a race and I would not see them again until after crossing the finish line at which point they usually had finished some 10-20 minutes ahead of me.

This is the third time that the S-works tires have burped during racing. I may need to re-evaluate how I use them. Higher air pressure? Any suggestions?

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