Six Shooter Recap
October 3/4, 2015
Author: Patrick Smock
Six Shooter cyclocross weekend (The bike let me down!)
I moved into my second weekend of cyclocross racing with high hopes as the Bicycle Sport Shop Six Shooter always brings big crowds, a fast course, and general cyclocross hooliganism. For one, there was no dedicated 3/4 race, therefore I had a valid excuse to race only once for 30mins. Also, temps had dropped into the downright chilly upper 80's and on paper the course looked to be flat and fast. I had the foresight to preregister, and I hoped to earn a better call-up position at the start line, because the popularity of this race brings a large crowd and positioning is everything. Perfect! Until right before the race started......
As I was finishing my warmup I noticed my back tire felt a little squishy and I debated adding more air versus taking advantage of the extra traction in the corners. As I turned, however, squish morphed into squirm and I knew something was up. I was losing air rapidly, most likely from a goathead I picked up somewhere. For those of you not familiar with Texas off-road riding let me explain: Growing up in the midwest we had plenty of "stickerbushes." These are NOT the same thing. Goatheads are more like a cross between a police spike-strip and something that Dr. Seuss would conjure up. Tubes are no match. I darted back to the car where I luckily had a spare tube stashed and did my best NASCAR tire change. I hooked up the pump to reinflate and.... woosh! Nothing. I fiddled with the pump until I snapped off the locking lever, switched to my mini pump, but still couldn't get the tube to hold any air. I noticed the tube I had removed was sitting there on the ground, still holding some air, so I threw it back on and hoped that maybe my valve had just leaked or something. It would only hold long enough to make it back to the venue. I was sure Id have to call it off and then I saw the Bicycle Sport Shop tent and I approached, looking very pathetic, and asked for a tube. They happily helped me change the tube a 3rd time and I was off! Having missed my call-up, I snuck in the back of a nearly 90 rider deep pack just in time to take off.
That seemingly fast course had been tilled into fine Texas silt by the previous races of the day, making for some long stretches of soft-slow dirt and some pretty sketchy corners. I had just switched tires to a pair of Schwalbe Sammy Slicks. Turns out, its not just a clever name and they took a little getting used to in those loose corners. I was able to steadily move up, rider by rider, at every opportunity. The course had two double sand pit crossings that I used to take advantage of and pass several people at one time, and two sets of barriers right in front of the raucous crowd and the announcers tent. A set of off-camber, short n' steep, hilly turns at the back of the course was another great area to jump up several places. I felt good and continued to make steady progress and then..... the race was over (disadvantage of the 4/5 30min race). Another lap and I think I wouldve finished much better but in the end I was quite happy moving up from 80-something to 40-something.
I showed up for the Sunday race ready for redemption but the old Rock Lobster wanted to make sure I knew who was really in charge. I made my call up this time, starting firmly mid-pack as opposed to my usual spot in the back. The course was was essentially run in reverse on Sunday with some minor changes. The crowd was no less unruly, and at some point a large rubber fallace was flung dangerously close to my head. Again, the pits were my opportunity to overtake several spots in one fell swoop. At the sand pit on the second lap I bounced my rear tire while un-shouldering the bike and dropped my chain. Even with a quick chain-fix I had lost 5 or 6 places. I fought to make them back up quickly. The back of the course was changed up enough that the tight, hilly turnarounds were a little more challenging and a lot more loose with an extra day of racing on them. A rider in front of me went down taking me out as well.... no big deal (rubbin' is racin') and I ran the rest of the turns and hills to get right back up to my spot, but as I remounted I realized I was dragging my rear wheel like a rudder. I had popped out the spring on my rear canti brakes and the brake was stuck on the rim. After some fiddling, I got the spring back in, but still coudn't get the brake to seat correctly. After goofing around and letting most of the race pass me by, I said "screw it" and unhooked my rear brake and finished the race on a front brake only. I wasn't going to reclaim any spots so I took it easy, had fun, and even saved a fist bump for the rubber dong on my last trip by the crowd.
After the final results were in, I had finished about in the same place on both days, having moved forward on Saturday and backward on Sunday. But its cross season in Austin and its all good.....Dutchman will be back for more next weekend!