After last years mudfest at the same venue and after an extremely muddy race just 7 days before, the prospect of a dry race and strong SS field should have had me a little more excited than I was feeling going in to this years event. Getting my gear ready on Saturday afternoon, I realised that the bottom bracket on my Superfly SS was on its last legs, but I really wanted run the gearing(34/20) and tyres I had setup on it. After some cleaning and extra TLC, I was fairly confident it would get through the 50K of Dirtfest. I'd also had to recover a saddle from my "spares" pile after breaking the seat rail on my much loved Fizik Gobi in the previous week's race.
I had everything ready the night before, and was on the road by 6am to get a good park fairly close to the event and save lugging my stuff too far. The traffic on leisurely drive up the coast was fairly light, but somehow there still managed to be an accident that closed the highway and we were forced to take a diversion. I realised at this point that I was about 5 cars behind my mate and sometimes pit crew Andy. Luckily the traffic in general seemed to know where they were headed as my phone GPS was playing up. In the end we arrived only a little after 7am and were able to park about 200m from the track. Andy and I found a good spot right on the track.
One of the peculiarities of this event was deep down in the rules(as found by Andy), it stated that changing bikes excluded a rider from the placings. I still decided to take my back up bike in case I changed my mind about things before the race. I decided however, to leave it on the car.
An announcement was made that the race start was to be delayed by at least 30mins due to the accident on the highway. Potentially a problem as I only had pretty much the amount of fluid I thought I'd need before and during the race. My plan was to be well hydrated at the start of the race and go with 2 bidons on the bike and if necessary stop for one bottle at the 5 or 6 lap mark. This was another reason I wanted to race the Superfly, it had 2 bottle cages where my Ti Inbred had only 1...even though it would turn out I would notice pre-race that one of the mounting bolts was loose, and I used duct tape to make sure the cage would not come loose.
Race start finally came around, and it was wave starts with Elites off first, then Open and then single speed. Including the SS girls, there were nearly 20 riders, a sizeable field. I started on the 2nd row, but with the first row being about 7 or 8 riders wide, I found myself around 10th after getting through the start/finish chute and on to the fire trail. I settled in behind FTR riders(Tim and Isaac), who were going just fast enough to make passing difficult. On the first bumpy descent, I lost both of my drink bottles as they bounced out of the cages(Oh the irony). I decide to push on and hopefully pick them up on the 2nd lap. With the tallish gear I was running, I managed to get past on the flatter fire trail. Memories came flooding back of the circuit last year all muddy. It was so much fun in the dry. I started to catch and pass the open riders who had set off ahead of us.
When I got back to transition, I had to stop and get my one and only spare bottle, and got passed by Tim and Isaac. I sat just behind them again so that I could get my dropped bottles which were still lying in the middle of the track. With only one cage available, I drank as much of the 3rd bottle as I could and threw it off to the side of the track. I eventually caught up to Tim and Isaac and rode with them for a while. Then again 1 bottle bounced out of its cage! This was somewhat bewildering as I have done many hundreds of ks with these cages and bottles and never had this kind of issue. In lap 3 I was able to run my own pace and hit the climbs fast. On one of the descents nearly halfway round the track I hear a crack and the saddle disappeared beneath me. I figured the stand-in saddle had suffered a broke rail like its predecessor, but when I looked down the seatpost is gone. I rode on, trying to decide what to do. Riding with no seat is way tougher than I thought, especially on flat ground with the low gearing of SS. I decided that I would probably hurt myself if I pushed on in the single track without a saddle and turned around. There was still a substantial amount of single track before the I got back to the start/finish, but I still make OK time and even found my lost bottle. On the way back I changed my mind on pulling out of the race and got my spare bike and turned a disastrous race in to a fun training session on a fun track that I can't ride at any other time.
When I got back to my gear, I couldn't find the car keys only to discover I had them in my pocket. I eventually changed bikes. I stupidly decided to reset my bike computer, and headed back out on track. The Ti On*One rides beautifully as always. I found the bottle that I threw beside the track and stopped to pick it up. With no spare cages I had to carry it in my pocket. The rest of the race was fairly uneventful except that I was never really sure what lap I was on. I also had to stop to fix my down tube mounted pump that had come loose and started rubbing on my crank. I also had to stop on the last lap to re-mount my chain which was derailed by a stick when I passed a rider by going a bit off track.
In the end I did 7(+3/4) laps in 2:52 and finish well down in my category. Its funny how the short races seem to be the most exciting and have the most drama. As always, the event was well run, and it was a an awesome track in the dry, and no bike clean-up afterwards is always a good thing. Hat off to all the DirtMasters and DirtMistresses on a tough weekend.