Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Race report: SoNoMas without a seat

Lining up.

This past weekend I raced the inaugural SoNoMas endurance event by Bike Monkey. I'd signed up before joining the Sheila Moon tribe, so I was racing in the coed relay category with my non-Moonie friend Angel.

It was great to see my new teammates out there racing and volunteering. Thanks to Sasha I even had a borrowed jersey to wear.

My race was entertaining. Fifteen minutes before the start Carlos surprised Angel and I with the new rule that teams had to stay together. I was initially bummed about this, but it ended up working out for the best: three or four miles in, Angel's seatpost broke. After determining that it was clearly non-repairable and a different size than mine, we decided to swap bikes, since the last minute rule change had made our strategy all about maximizing Angel's speed.

We are about the same size and were running the same pedals, but other than that the bike swap was comical: I had never used integrated shifters or a rapid-rise derailleur, Angel had never used sram thumb shifters, and I run my brakes euro-style (reversed). We each crashed several times on the unfamiliar rigs, at one point both on the same switchback. It sounded like Angel enjoyed the 29er though, and she was able to keep a solid pace once we got sorted.

Before swapping bikes.
Photo courtesy of
Nick Gaetano

My pace for most of the race was semi-casual. At aid stations I would make sure my teammate had what she needed and was on her way quickly, then take my time getting refueled before catching back up.

The camelback guys got really excited when they saw I didn't have a seat, and made an entertainingly drunken attempt to attach an old flip-flop to the top of the frame. I let them get a picture of their rubber band and zip-tie creation before giving it back to them and proceeding.

Wrong Tim and the crew at aid station 9 were awesome. They didn't even need to ask what you needed. We felt so revived after our brief stop there.

Angel had felt pretty beat about half way through the course, but she revived before the Bummer Peak area, and our spirits lifted as we started passing other coed teams. I was stoked to see Sasha and Murphy at the Sheila Moon checkpoint, and I left with a full cup of ice down the back of my jersey and another one in my bib. The Sheila Moon volunteers have set a high standard for race support, which I'm hoping to contribute to at the FOTI race.

Once we popped back out onto the road for the last time I realized it was (past) time to take advantage of the 10-minute gap allowed between teammates, so I said bye to Angel and took off. The final pavement climb was awesomely horrible. I'm normally all about the spin, but today it was stand and hammer or get off and walk, so hammer I did. Riding a bike without a seat for 3.5 hours had turned out to be easier than I anticipated, and my legs felt pretty good all the way to the finish.

We ended up getting 2nd in the coed team category, finishing in roughly 4 hours. Afterwards we stumbled around in the scorching parking lot like zombies, trying to rehydrate and get cleaned up. The Bike Monkey crew came through as always with delicious food, but I was too hot and worked to sample the beer on tap (I may get kicked out of the team for admitting this).

Later in the day I caught myself thinking "gosh, I didn't even notice my saddle during that race, it must have been really comfortable..."

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