This past weekend I went up to Ona, Florida near Sarasota for Hare Scramble #11 of the Florida Trail Riders 2010-2011 season. This was my 5th race.
My friend Ivor and I made the 7 hour drive on Friday and got a hotel room rather than camp because of our late arrival. Early Saturday morning we headed over to the property and met up with our new FTR friends.
One of the guys has two young boys who race in the 65cc class. These kids do their practice lap at the same time as all of the saturday bike riders. Young Mathew's brother was sick and could not make it to this race so Ivor and I rode behind him to keep an eye on him.
This turned out to be a great way to take a nice easy practice lap to see the course but conserve energy. Why didn't I think of that sooner?
I tend to ride the practice like I would in the race and burn energy.
I was feeling great and used the 3 hours before the race start to rest, hydrate, check out the bike, etc.
As race time approaches, I always get a nervous anticipation. I try to lessen it by kidding with Ivor that this is the race where I will pass him.
At the start, with a little advice from Tbone I fired the bike up on the first kick. I took off and was flying down the first field among the first few riders. A couple of other riders had a better angle to the first turn and I entered the first trees in fourth. Right away one of the guys in front of me missed a turn so now I was third as we flew down an open field past the spectator area.
As we approached the next wooded area, the rider in front low-sided as he braked for the 90 degree left so now I was second.
I was ecstatic, I was telling myself to stay calm and be smooth and I would catch the leader who was nowhere in sight. I made my way through the tight trees and numerous palmetto stumps and roots. I felt like I was flowing really well and trying to relax my grip when I could to avoid fatigue.
About a mile later my bike started to feel like it was losing power. I accelerated out of a turn and the bike was bogging. WTF? this never happened before, what could be wrong? It got worse and going into a real tight section it stalled. I pulled the hot start and kicked and it started right up.
It seemed to be running fine so I let out the clutch and it bogged again. I tried to go but soon realized my rear wheel was locking up.
I got off to the side of the trail and some course workers rushed over to help. we looked for something jammed somewhere but found nothing. My rotor was red hot and my brake pedal was stiff. As I banged on the pedal to try to free it, the brake line blew, squirting boiling brake fluid.
"Well, you can ride it now at least" said the course volunteer as he radioed in to cancel the tow vehicle he had called for. They said I could finish the lap so I could at least avoid a DNF and get my money's worth. "just go slow and remember you have no rear brake".
So that is what I did. I was crushed. I had gotten off to such a good start and I was feeling so good I knew I could chase down the leader eventually. I took off and wheelied all the way across the open field. Hey, I want to get my money's worth.
I soon learned how much you depend on your rear brake to ride in the woods. I really had to be careful.
So my race was over. The theory in camp is that I must have been resting my foot on the pedal, and there was no play in the pedal so the fluid heated up and locked the brakes. Me? I would NEVER drag the rear brake.
When I told one of the veteran riders what happened, the first thing he said was "take your foot off the brake". D'oh!!
He also said I should lower the pedal a bit and that would help.
Parts have been ordered, lessons have been learned. I had fun and didn't get hurt so I can't be too upset.
Ivor took second in his Evo class. I totally would have passed him this time......
Next up is another Okeechobee race, only a couple of miles from the last one a few weeks ago. It's not until March 26th so I have plenty of time to fix the bike and maybe even try to work out a little and improve my endurance.
Right after this nap.....